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Punjabi hip hop artist and equal rights advocate pursues the Canadian dream

Published on May 03, 2017

For Jagrit Bajwa perseverance has paid off.

When the 24-year-old international student from India came to Edmonton in January 2015 to attend NAIT’s JR Shaw School of Business, he was jobless, poor and out of his element to say the least.

“I had to learn how to walk on snow,” he laughs, recalling falling on the sidewalk one day. A passing stranger took pity on him, and on the spot showed him how to maneuver on icy sidewalks – to take smaller steps and shuffle a bit. “When you drag your feet, it creates enough friction, so you don’t fall,” he now explains.

Bajwa graduates this week with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting. He’s come a long way from those early days in Canada, when once he had to rely on donations from the NAIT Students’ Association food bank. In time, he got a job as a NAIT Peer Mentor and is now working in an extended student position with the Canada Revenue Agency. He wants to work as an auditor and plans to stay in Canada.

While at NAIT, Bajwa organized a Punjabi Zumba event on campus, led how-to sessions on turban tying and formed a band with fellow international students. Back in his home country of India, Bajwa would write and perform hip hop tracks in his spare time, and produced a handful of music videos which he also starred in.

“I like to rap,” he says of his Punjabi songs. “It’s an opportunity to bring up social issues and to talk about inclusiveness.”

He’s been nicknamed Jaguarr by his NAIT friends – who had trouble pronouncing his given name. However, it’s fitting, Bajwa notes, as his full first name is Jagrit Singh – and Singh means a lion or tiger in Punjabi. And like the great cats, he’s a fighter.

“I go along with the name pretty well,” he says.

NAIT's 2017 Convocation will be held on Friday, May 5 (8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) and Saturday, May 6 (8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) at The Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, 11455 - 87 Ave. More than 8,000 students will graduate this year.

Jagrit is available for media interviews prior to convocation. He will also cross the stage at the Friday afternoon ceremony.

About NAIT

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and trades. With nearly 60,000 credit and non-credit students and a 95 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads are essential to Alberta’s prosperity. Known for hands-on, technology-based learning, NAIT engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. Recognized as one of Alberta’s top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.