For the first time, the City of Vancouver will name a street after one of its most famous South Asian pioneers.

Council voted to designate Jack Uppal Street in South Vancouver's River District to commemorate the philanthropist and business leader who has been credited with uniting his community and fighting discrimination.

Uppal owned Goldwood Industries on Mitchell Island, one of the oldest sawmills in B.C. The mill was located on the north arm of the Fraser, on what is is now the River District.

His daughter, Cindy Bains, is now the president of his company.

"Nobody, unconditionally, could do what he did, and he did it from his heart," she told The Early Edition's Jason D'Souza.

"He preached to us that love is everything and that you have to love your fellow man."

"We're just lucky that we had a father like Jack Uppal."

Helping the South Asian community

Jack Uppal came to B.C. as an infant in 1926 and was forced to leave school at the age of 13 to help make ends meet for his family.

Jack Uppal

In his early years, Jack took on many jobs including becoming Vancouver's first South Asian bus driver. (Mehfil Magazine)

Bains says her father helped South Asian immigrants find meaningful work in the lumber industry at a time when widespread discrimination kept them out of many professions.

"They couldn't be lawyers or doctors. They had to work hard and it's because of that industry that we've been able to be successful in Canada," Bains said.

In 2012, Uppal received an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University, which was the only degree to his name.

Uppal also earned a B.C. Community Achievement Award, the University of British Columbia's Nehru Humanitarian Award, and the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal.

Uppal died in 2014, at the age of 89.

With files from CBC Radio One's The Early Edition


To hear the interview with Cindy Bains, click the audio labelled: Jack Uppal remembered as a 'legend' for the South Asian community