Farmworker Women

Farmworker Women

(Dedicated to all those women  working in the BC farms)

Women come and work in
the wide spread BC farms.
Smiling and energetic they come
from the land of Punjab
educated, uneducated, married
unmarried young and old
all become slowly and slowly
hard-working farm labourers!
From the land of the five rivers
soon women arrive to Canada
they work in the farms every where.
Many of them are attracted to
Fraser Valley ornamented with
sharp rich colours of raspberry,
blue berry and strawberries.
Brides take off their gold and silk
come wearing  t-shirts and jeans
with soft henna coloured palms
women come with holding babies
women with pre-schoolers
women with grandparents
women with old in-laws and
some with old parents
and aunts and uncles
women with large families.
Women work around the clock
their hands work non-stop
in the fields of raspberry
blueberry and strawberry.
Women pick mushrooms
cut broccoli and sprouts
marshy land is under their feet
under the rain of pesticide
their hands get blisters
their feet get swollen
their eyes become watery
they breathe on fumes
and their arms, necks and faces
get infected with killer pesticides.
Working the soil they become soil.
Women work day and night
their hands work non-stop.
Longer hours more than dawn to dusk
women work and get tired
come back with aching feet and hands
when are taken back to their homes
in a stuffed van of a contractor
where they can not even breathe.
Working women, labourers, they just work !
They come back home late at night
tired and then they start home-shift –
cooking for their hungry children
for their men, for their large families.
they wash everybody’s dirty dishes
and do everybody’s laundry.
Women take care of everybody
– crying hungry or sick children
Women look after everybody’s needs
remain unaware of their own needs
women go to bed vary late
after everybody’s gone to bed
and after making preparations
for everybody  tomorrow’s work
and they have to get up very early
before the first ray of the sun rises
and get ready to go to the farms again.
Farmworker women are brave- Zindabad!


Surjeet Kalsey (1985)


Earth Poem



Mother earth,

I bow my head on your feet!

You raise us by giving us

food, water and warmth.

Earth weeps when it sees

Tones of tones wheat

do not go to those mouths

of millions hungry children

but it gets ruined burned under

the unseasonal torrential rain.

We unthankful children of yours

Let it happen and do not save

it from this natural disaster.

The earth – the rich soil of

my land of five rivers: Punj+aab

irrigated with these waters and

with farmworkers blood and sweat         ..

gives us golden wheat and paddy         

in abundance in our fields.

The golden ripe crops get

destroyed and ruined in the rain

outside under the weeping sky –

The wheat is grown enough

to feed the whole India and

to keep the hunger away.

But is it God’s will perhaps not that

poor will have to stay hungry for ever.

Farmworkers and consumers shed tears

Rich and politicians do not see the tears!

And the deaf and dumb rulers raise

their white elephant pets, pamper then

with expensive cars for joy riding!

Where is the father of the nation today!

Why do hungry and the poor have to wait

until the full stomachs are being over fed?.

That’s right hunger can wait until famine!


“There are seven things that will destroy us: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Religion without sacrifice; Politics without principle; Science without humanity; Business without ethics.”   — Mahatma Gandhi