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Heart of the City: Prince Rupert's Bill Parmar committed to giving back at home and abroad
When it was announced that polio had been eradicated in India, Bill Parmar was ecstatic.
As a longtime Prince Rupert Rotarian, an organization whose international project is to eradicate polio, Parmar knew India was ground zero for that fight.
Parmar quickly volunteered for a Rotary Club project that took him back to his native India to assist in the immunizations. In 2007, Parmar went back once again to India and to Nadalon, the village where he grew up, to continue the mission.
"I went to my village, and didn't expect they would be [vaccinating] people there because it's so small," he said.
The vaccinations were being done in a small school within the village, which Parmar said only had a dirt floor.
"They were doing the polio immunization in there and it was pretty dusty, which people are used to there, but we aren't," he said.
Parmar decided to remain in the village for two months to create a multipurpose building that community members could use as a place to be immunized and as a school. Parmar spent approximately $8,000 of his own money and fundraised the rest to construct the building, a road and a sewer system.
To this day, Parmar returns each year to Nadalon to maintain the school/clinic.
Parmar moved to Prince Rupert in 1970 and, in an arranged marriage in 1977, was set-up with his wife Anita. Anita immigrated to Canada and the couple started a family with son Bob and daughter Pamela.
At the centre of Parmar's life is family and volunteering.
In the early '80s, before taking on the fight against polio, Parmar spearheaded the project to build the Prince Rupert Sikh Missionary Temple.
Parmar and nine others began fundraising and by the middle of the decade had raised $500,000 for the project. The group enlisted support from temples across the country and the U.S.
Parmar was the project manager of the temple's creation, helping to oversee every aspect of the construction. The Prince Rupert Sikh Missionary Temple was eventually completed in 1987.
In the end volunteering has been something Parmar has done throughout his life as a way to give back.
"It feels great [to help people]," he said.
Parmar worked a number of jobs in Prince Rupert over the years before becoming semi-retired five years ago. He worked as a Canada Post contractor, a taxi driver and operated his own printing business.
About five years ago Parmar retired and wanted to use that time to again volunteer within Prince Rupert. He saw an ad in the newspaper for an auxiliary RCMP officer. The opportunity hit home to Parmar because his father was a policeman.
Shortly after, Parmar joined the victim services unit of the RCMP.
As part of victim services, Parmar helps inform and comfort victims of crimes, witnesses or grieving families. He provides what information he can on what is happening with their cases and makes available services to assist victims.
Although being part of victim services can be emotional, Parmar said it has been rewarding.
"I had never seen that side ... it's pretty hard sometimes," he said.
"At the end of the day it feels good."