Dr. Avnsih Jolly, Winnipeg, Canada
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Odaroo alias Ishar Singh Banns was born in 1894 in the village of Kotla Naudh Singh in Punjab. At the age of 13, after running away from home, he boarded a ship bound for Canada. He arrived in Vancouver aboard the Monteagle in 1907. Odaroo was most intriguing members of the Indo-Canadian community. His adventurous spirit and activism inspired North Americans’ as well as Indo-Canadians.
Odaroo worked in the lumber industry at Vancouver until 1919. Before moving to Winnipeg he moved to Alberta. He worked as a mechanic in Winnipeg, but his true passion was aeroplanes’. He studied aviation at the Warren School of Aeronautics, Los Angeles in 1927.
In 1929, Ishar earned the nickname “Odaroo” (one who can fly) after making a parachute jump in Stockton, California. He shared his experience with media in 1945: “I was scared every inch of the way down!” he also shared, “I suppose it’s more or less commonplace now, but in those days a parachute jump was still a gamble and not many private fliers had any ambition to hit the silk!” Odaroo made two more parachute jumps, in Victoria and North Vancouver.
Odaroo eventually decided to fly from Los Angeles to Vancouver in his own airplane. He couldn’t make it. Somewhere between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, the single engine of his open- cockpit. He crash landed into the branches of a tree, miraculously sustaining only a minor injury. Still he did not give up, bought other plane. In 1939, he turned his attention to the plight of East Indians facing discriminatory immigration policies and joined a protest.
Odaroo become President of the Canadian Sikh Welfare Association in 1954. He was married to Ida Mongol Banns, who was well known for her public speaking, including a broadcast for the CBC entitled “My Own Mother,” and for her volunteer work teaching English to new Canadians at the YWCA. They had two children, son Paul and daughter Chandra. Odaroo passed away in 1969 in Vancouver at the age of 74.