Jai Birdi migrated to Canada with his siblings and mother in the mid-70s. After spending a few years in northern BC, Jai moved to the west coast in early 80s. He started his career in social services and advanced from a line position to senior management. Jai feels both the migration processes, living in diverse communities, and professional roles in diversabilities helped him in cementing his beliefs in equity and inclusion. Jai’s passion for understanding and proactively overcoming caste related barriers developed out of curiosity rather than experiencing caste discrimination or oppression.
Some of the initiatives Jai has led with a wonderful team of volunteers have resulted in establishing the Chetna Association of Canada that led the installation of memorials (Bust of Dr. Ambedkar at Simon Fraser University and portraits at various other institutions in BC); establishing Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture Series; and influencing local governments to pass proclamations as a means for enhancing awareness of Dr. Ambedkar and his philosophy. Jai is presently the general secretary and executive director of the Chetna Association. He looks forward to further advancing inclusion through strengthening partnerships and influencing local governments to add caste as a protected category to the existing legal frameworks; and, establishing a center or an institution for emancipation using the philosophy of Dr. Ambedkar as a guide.
Short Promotional Video: How can we react to caste discrimination with power and resilience?
Full Interview, Part 1:
Full Interview, Part 2:
Banner image: Collage of photographs, from left to right, interview of Surjit and Manjit Bains with Dr. Anne Murphy (courtesy of Jai Birdi); the Guru Ravidas Sabha Vancouver (courtesy of Anita Lal); Kamaljit, participant in the project; portrait of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar by Raghavendra Rao Karkala, now in the collection of the University of the Fraser Valley Library (acrylic on canvas); Mohan Lal Karimpuri, author and activist; Vipasna Nanal, project participant and video interview editor.