05/07/2014 01:11 EDT | Updated 07/07/2014 05:59 EDT

Jagat "Jack" Singh Uppal, Sikh pioneer, dead at 89

Tributes are pouring in for Jack Singh Uppal, a pioneer in B.C.'s South Asian community who died Sunday at the age of 89.

Uppal's father was among the first wave of Sikh immigrants to B.C. His son fought for a better quality of life for his family at a time of colonial and racial tensions in B.C.

Uppal was one the first Sikh children to attend public school in Vancouver. In 2012 he received an honorary doctorate from Simon Fraser University. He was also the recipient of the B.C. Community Achievement Award.

BC. Premier Christy Clark says Uppal will be missed: 

"He went out of his way to support others looking to build their lives in British Columbia, hiring them with his successful lumber company, Goldwood Industries, or helping them integrate with Canadian society as president of the Khalsa Diwan Society."

Khalsa Diwan Society president Sohan Singh Deo says Uppal was a giving person.

"He was giving time everywhere, even for his business he was successful," he said.

"In the community he was successful, politically he was successful. You know he always gave something back to the society. It's a big loss. It's a big loss."

In a statement, his family said, "Jack will always remain in our hearts, and his love forever in us all. It was an honour to have met him, a privilege to have known him, and a blessing to call him our father."

A celebration of Uppal's life is planned for May 11 at 10 a.m. PT at the Riverside Funeral Home in Ladner, B.C. followed by temple services at Guru Nanak Niwas in Richmond, B.C.