Yusuf Suleman Bakharia
Aka Bakharia Chacha, Yusef bhai or Haji Saab
Written by the family of Yusuf Bakharia:
My grandfather was born in Lajpur, India, and went on his way to Barbados. They lived in Barbados, had 8 children, and established a lifestyle for themselves in Barbados. He had 3 successful businesses, a furniture shop as well as a coolly man service (sales) and limousine service. In addition, he was a very skilled tradesman. One day a Minister of Parliament from Canada hired his limousine service. The driver felt ill that day, so my grandfather took it upon himself to take the MP out. As he was showing him around the island, he got to know my grandfather. My grandfather told him that he had ambitions of living in the UK. When he found out about the businesses that my grandfather had, he invited my grandfather to explore Canada prior to moving to the UK. He took the opportunity, and in 1966 he landed in Canada. He loved what he seen and saw the potential in Canada, then came back the same year with his son Rashied and his son-in-law Syed Nana. The following year my grandmother came with the rest of my aunts and uncles. It was difficult during these times as he was adapting to a new life with little to no access to Islamic services (i,e, no halal butchers, only 1 masjid in Toronto).
My grandfather started buying properties and businesses, and people overseas started to hear about the country of Canada. Muslims, Hindus, and Christians started coming from India and Pakistan. During the late ’60s and early ’70s, being the pioneers here, he would send his sons to the airport as well as the homeless shelters and picked up all the Indian’s and Pakistani’s back to his house. The people who arrived at the airport were given two pieces of information when coming to Canada; my grandfather’s phone number and 10 cents to use a payphone to call him when they arrive. His house was not big enough to accommodate everyone so they would stay in our billiards clubs and sleep on or underneath the tables.
Being a highly skilled tradesman, he was employed for a real estate agency and did reno work for many houses/sites. Through his work, he had built connections in which he was able to provide employment and build ID for those who he was assisting to kick start one’s life in this new country. He had also provided halal meat by purchasing animals in Kensington market and slaughtering animals himself for those living in his house or the billiard club. Before Moulana Khalil was able to, my grandfather would perform nikkahs (marriage ceremonies) for Muslims who were trying to get married. The countless people that he has helped throughout the years of being here in Canada from India, Pakistan, Fiji and Barbados so they could establish a life for themselves here in Canada. There was a time once where Moulana Khalil had 24 hours left in Canada and was supposed to go back to India. My grandfather then called his immigration lawyer and was able to provide residency for him in Canada. He was also one of the founders of Madina Masjid and travelled around the world to collect donations for mosques in Toronto, Barbados, South Africa, and India.
My grandfather was a man that did his best to help anyone at any time he could. He has helped so many people that even till this day people would come up to me and tell me about how my grandfather helped them. He has left a lasting memory in the hearts of many. May Allah ﷻ accept his efforts and be pleased with him. Ameen.