Baljit Kaur Claire
May 7, 1932 – July 27, 2019
Our beloved mother, Baljit Kaur Claire (nee Grewal) was born on May 7th, 1932 in Dhaka, District Ludhiana, Punjab, India. She was the only child of her parents Harchand Kaur Grewal (nee Sekhon) and Harchand Singh Grewal. Mom’s father died when she was less than two years old which is why she and her mother (Bibiji) returned to Bibiji’s family home to nurture and care for the young Baljit. Mom often told us of how her elderly Mamaji and Mamiji (maternal great aunt and uncle) took such wonderfully adoring care of her by encouraging her to grow up as a confident and happy child. This enriching early childhood upbringing was something Mom would never forget for the rest of her life and she remained eternally grateful for it.
Mom is survived by: her children, Harinderjit Kaur Cheema, husband Dr. Gulzar Singh Cheema; Jatinderpal (J.P.) Singh Claire, wife Loretta Marie Claire; Jagjit (Jeet) Kaur Claire; and Mohinderpal (Paul) Singh Claire, wife Kiranjit Kaur Claire; grandchildren: Anuraj Singh Cheema and his sons Roman and Dylan Cheema, Kiranjit Kaur Cheema-Sidhu and her husband Pushpinder Singh Sidhu, Haley Jordan Kaur Heath and husband Brett Heath and their children Blake and Sophie Heath and, Jared Paul Singh Claire and a large extended family.
Coming of school age, Mom was sent to Sidhme Boarding School in Sidhwan Kurd (today known as Khalsa College for Women) where she completed her primary and secondary school studies and teachers’ training. She also studied Gurbani and learned to pray and sing Shahbaads beautifully. As a result of her education and family upbringing, Mom was a cultured young woman with high standards who remained immaculate and careful in her personal habits and routines throughout her life. Mom strived to bring those same exacting standards to all that she did in her life for as long as she lived and she tried to instill these values in her children as well. Mom taught elementary school in Mehraj before and after marrying our father, Inderjit Singh Claire, who was also a teacher by profession. In 1964, our parents left India and went to Scotland and then England before finally settling in Canada in 1969. By that time, they were an adventurous young couple and immigrants so far from home. They had also created a family of their own with four children: Harinder, JP, Jagjit and Paul.
Mom and Dad raised their family in a small town called Hudson Bay, in northeastern Saskatchewan during the 1970’s and 80’s when there were few other Indian families in the region and very little chance to make contact with a larger Sikh community. Despite that, Mom and Dad worked hard to teach us about our heritage while also adjusting to life in Canada. Our father taught high school and farmed while Mom worked hard as a housewife. She also went to work at Saskatchewan Forest Products. Over a span of fifteen years, Mom not only gained seniority at the mill, but she attained one of the most sought after jobs in the plywood production line. Mom worked diligently both in and out of the home. She also supported Dad in helping many members of our large extended family to immigrate to Canada from England and India and to settle in Winnipeg and other parts of Canada.
Our parents worked tirelessly during those early years to not only support their own children, but also, to help many relatives and friends of our extended family in India. Bibiji aided them by helping with childcare and household tasks. Mom would volunteer at the canteen at the local ice hockey rink where JP and Paul played. She would turn up at our school plays, concerts and sports days always looking very poised and elegant in a traditional Indian sari or a smart looking pantsuit. We were so proud of our pretty and smart mother. Mom learned to drive a car and manage winter highway conditions so she could take us to medical appointments in larger cities and towns. Together, and as a family, Mom and Dad loved to travel and took us to places all over North America when we were kids. Dad loved the long drives, but it was Mom who was an expert on how to pack the car with everything we would need for those long road trips.
Throughout the many years of their married life, Dad and Mom attended many weddings and other special occasions together and enjoyed socializing with friends and family. Dad was active in the community and Mom kept the household in order. We kids still think that our Mom made the best parathas, lasagna and pizza EVER! Mom took great pride in being a good wife, mother, daughter and hard worker – both at the mill and at home.
Mom and Dad settled in Winnipeg in 1989. They were both actively involved with Singh Sabha Gurdwara and served on its committee for several years. Winnipeg remained home until the deaths of Dad and Bibiji in 2004. After those events, Mom moved to Surrey, BC for a few years. Mom was glad to return to Winnipeg after five years as she missed her friends and family and her strong connections to this city.
Mom loved her family, her cultural traditions and her faith. She also took great comfort and solace in prayer and in social contacts with her many relations and friends all over the world. She especially loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren delighting in their accomplishments and joys as much as she hoped and prayed for their future happiness and success in life. Mom had a wide network of people for whom she was the hub of connection, both in person and over the phone. After a lengthy illness, Mom peacefully departed from life at Riverview Palliative Care in the early morning hours of Saturday, July 27th, 2019. She will be greatly missed by all.
Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, August 1st at 2:00 pm at Thomson "In the Park" Funeral Home, 1291 McGillivray Boulevard, with prayer services to follow at Singh Sabha Gurdwara.
The Claire family would like to extend our appreciation and thanks to the doctors, nurses, and staff of the Riverview Palliative Care Unit for the excellent and compassionate care provided to Mom during her time there.
- Funeral Service Thursday, August 1, 2019