This morning, Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to designate ‘Jack Uppal Street’ in South Vancouver’s River District, the first street in Vancouver history named after a South Asian Canadian. The street name was put forward by the Civic Asset Naming Committee to recognize Jagat “Jack” Singh Uppal’s legacy to the local South Asian community, and his contributions and achievements in public life.
“I am delighted to honour Jack Uppal’s legacy as an extraordinary leader in our City,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Mr. Uppal dedicated his life to standing up for equal rights and opportunities. He was at the forefront of paving the way for a more equal Vancouver, free from racism and discrimination.”
Mr. Uppal founded Goldwood Industries on Mitchell Island, one of the oldest sawmills in B.C., and the first owned and operated by H.R. MacMillan. The Mill was located on the north arm of the Fraser, on land that is now the River District. The choice to commemorate Mr. Uppal in that neighbourhood not only reflects its rich history and culture, it celebrates his legacy and achievements as an early activist for human rights in Vancouver’s South Asian Community.
"Naming a street in celebration of my father shows how much respect the City of Vancouver and the Canadian Society has for him. My father would have been thrilled and honoured that a street was named for his accomplishments,” said Cindy Bains, the late Jack Uppal's daughter. "He, along with other elders in the South Asian community, set the foundation to stand up to racism and discrimination, and it is our responsibility to honour their hardships. Future generations can learn from their legacy that hard work, humbleness and service to the civic life contribute to a thriving and inclusive community."
Mr. Uppal came to British Columbia as an infant in 1926 and dedicated his life to his company and his community, especially in regard to issues of racism and discrimination. He received an honorary doctorate from SFU in acknowledgement of his activism on behalf of the South Asian community and was also awarded a BC Community Achievement Award, UBC’s Nehru Humanitarian Award, and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal.