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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An oral history of the Sikhs in British Columbia, 1920-1947 Jagpal, Sarjeet Singh


This thesis recognizes the value of using a variety of perspectives to study the history of an ethnic minority group. The history of some groups is lacking in insider perspectives. I have attempted to add balance to the existing accounts by using an oral history approach to describe the experiences of the Sikhs living in British Columbia from 1920-1947. I am an insider, a Sikh whose grandfather was one of the original pioneers who came in the first wave of immigration in the 1904-1908 time period. These people are no longer with us, but some of their wives and children are still available to share their history with future generations. I interviewed and recorded 24 individual histories. From these I have formed a composite picture of the Sikh community in British Columbia from 1920-1947. Beginning with descriptions of social, political and cultural conditions in India and Canada at the time of arrival, we follow them through the important stages of their lives in their adopted land. They describe the journey over, settling in, adaptations, work, social life, the fight for rights, and the role of their temple and religion. We see the events and circumstances that eventually led to the Sikhs being able to call Canada their home. The many photographs, letters and documents give further insights into the lives of this distinctive group of Canadians.

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