BC | Canada 150 Grant Recipient Project Highlights

South Asian Studies Institute (University of the Fraser Valley)

Project: History Across the Region Project – Punjabi Canadian Legacy Project
Funding Received: $68,000

For BC|Canada150, the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley undertook to record South Asian Canadian family histories, collections, and then share those historical and contemporary Punjabi perspectives through web platforms, social media, and online channels, in partnership with the Royal BC Museum.

This academic leader in South Asian Canadian studies has dedicated efforts over the last ten years to recordings, (re)collecting, and researching South Asian Canadian history, dating back to 1902.

The impact of a provincial history that has not been recorded in a fulsome manner cannot be estimated until it is available in the public record. Of critical importance is the effect of recording histories from all over the province of BC with an audience that has not yet been incorporated in a purposeful manner by provincial mainstream archival organizations. As well, the cultural communities themselves have yet to fully mature their own response to personal histories, cultural artifacts, historic sites, and preservation of archives. This project shines a light on South Asian Canadian history in the province from 1902 on, which will form part of the provincial meta-narrative.

For this project, the Institute worked with communities in Surrey, Prince George, Golden, Duncan, Abbotsford, Vancouver, and Kelowna, all of which have 100+ years of South Asian Canadian settlement history in BC. It is the first time that provincial linkages across these regions have been made for the purpose of developing a historic record that would constitute part of the public record (with the RBCM support). The benefits of this work to the province of BC, its many cultural communities, its rich and diverse history, its recognition of immigrant groups, working towards truth and reconciliation with First Nations, and commitment to correct the provincial historic record are all part of this project.

In total, this project allowed for interviews to be conducted with 93 people across BC. These interviews have assisted in creating a legacy record of Punjabi Canadian historical settlement stories.