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Winnipeg street named for first Indian-born Canadian elected to Legislature

A new street in Winnipeg is being named after Dr. Gulzar Cheema, the first Indian-born Canadian to be elected to a Legislative Assembly in the country. William Ludwick / Global News

He’s the first Indian-born Canadian to have been elected to a Legislative Assembly in the country, and now there’s a street in northwest Winnipeg named after him.

Dr. Gulzar Cheema was first elected MLA for the Liberal party in The Maples in 1988. He was re-elected in 1990.

He later moved to B.C. where he was elected to that province’s Legislative Assembly in 2001, later serving as minister of state for mental health and minister of state for immigration and multicultural services.

New street in Winnipeg named after Dr. Gulzar Cheema, the first Indian-born Canadian elected to a Legislative Assembly in the country. William Ludwick / Global News

“In 1988 the perception within the community in Canada about the ethnic community, especially the Indo-Canadian community and the Sikh community, was not very positive,” Dr. Cheema said during the official unveiling of ‘Cheema Drive’ Saturday.

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He and his wife, both grandchildren of refugees, were working hard and facing “a lot of issues” at the time, and felt they had something to contribute.

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“We were trained, we were educated, we were told the great stories of our ancestors and … how hard they worked. We were approached, not by choice, but by a lot of individuals who are in this room … to run for a public office.”

Dr. Cheema was working as a physician when he first ran for office, and now practices family medicine in British Columbia. He is also an assistant professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia.

A new street in Winnipeg is being named after Dr. Gulzar Cheema, the first Indian-born Canadian to be elected to a Legislative Assembly in the country. William Ludwick / Global News

“The diversity and range of people here today is a testament to Dr. Cheema’s far-reaching impact on our community,” said Councillor Devi Sharma, of the Old Kildonan ward, describing Cheema as “a man of impressive achievement, who is near and dear to all of us.”

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Sharma was one of several dignitaries who attended the event, alongside MPs Kevin Lamoureux and Terry Duguid, and their counterparts from B.C., including Randeep Sarai, MP for Surrey-Centre.

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