Bhagleant "Bonto" Singh was born in Abbotsford, BC in 1934 to Natara Singh Burns and Chanan Kaur Burns. Bonto was initially raised at the Abbotsford Gurdwara where her father, Natara, was a granthi. Her family moved to Paldi, a small multicultural logging community on Vancouver Island, when Bonto was elementary school aged so that Natara could serve as a granthi at the Paldi Gurdwara. Bonto, the oldest of eight siblings, spent the remainder of her adolescence in Paldi. She moved to Vancouver after marrying Donie Singh, a good friend of her cousin Jiginder Singh Johl. While in Vancouver, Bonto lived in the St. George St. neighbourhood, which was home to many South Asian Canadian families. Bonto worked as a translator at the Vancouver Community Courthouse, and also volunteered as a translator for her neighbours when accompanying them to doctors appointments.