Edmonton Mill Woods
The new Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Amargeet Sohi, was a city councillor in Edmonton for almost a decade representing Ward 12. As a councillor he represented the city on the Canadian Urban Transit Association. He is a big proponent of light rail. He was also a city delegate to the Alberta Municipalities Association. He has also volunteered his time with Public Interest Alberta, the Centre for International Alternatives, and the Canadian Labour Congress.
Sohi was the leader of Edmonton’s City Council Immigration, Multiculturalism and Racism Free Edmonton initiative. For his work promoting socially inclusive communities Sohi received the Edmonton Interfaith Advocate award and John Humphrey Centre’s Human Rights Advocate. Sohi has also been active in initiatives fighting gender-based violence and was awarded the Man of Honour, Exemplary Leadership Award from the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation.
He is also a strong advocate of safe communities and was a member of the Edmonton Police Commission. As part of that role he created the Police Chief’s Indo-Canadian Liaison Committee. He also led the creation of the Punjabi Cultural Association and the Punjabi Arts Association.
Sohi was born in Banbhaura, Sangrur district in Punjab, India. He emigrated to Edmonton in 1981 after being sponsored by his brother. Though he was born Sikh, Sohi does not consider himself religious and does not wear a turban or a beard. He did speak out against Sikh fundamentalism and state oppression in India.
In 1988 he returned to India to study with Punjabi playwright Gursharan Singh and became active in a group in Bihar advocating for reforms. While attending a protest Sohi was arrested under India’s Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention Act). Sohi was accused of being in Bihar to train insurgents and was interrogated and tortured while being denied access to Canadian diplomatic officers. For 18 months he was kept in Gaya Central Prison. Eventually his case was picked up by Amnesty International and the Canadian government took action to have Sohi freed. It took a change of government in 1990 for his case to be dismissed.
He is married with one daughter.