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UBC Theses and Dissertations

East Indians in British Columbia 1904-1914 : an historical study in growth and integration Lal, Brij

Abstract

The full history of the early East Indian community in British Columbia has yet to be written. Here an attempt has been made to assemble the information relating to some aspects of the community's origins and development between 1904 and 1914, the first decade of their presence in Canada. This thesis also attempts to examine the structural position of the East Indian community and its lack of integration into and acceptance by the host society. Four major factors influencing the nature of development of the East Indian community were examined in detail: the socio-economic background of the East Indian immigrants, the nature of institutional developments in the nascent community in British Columbia, the attitudes and perceptions of the host society, and the political responses of the Dominion and Imperial governments to Indian immigration. Intensive, as opposed to extensive examination of these factors dictated the adoption of a thematic rather than a chronological approach. The methodology employed was interdisciplinary in nature, utilizing theoretical material drawn from the disciplines of sociology and anthropology. It was found that the East Indian community was an alienated ethnic group which lived on the social fringes of the host society. Integration and acceptance of the East Indians did not take place as a result of vast differences in the cultures and institutions of their country of origin and the host society, but more importantly, because the immigrants themselves did not want to integrate. The East Indians were sojourners who hoped to return to India in their old age to enjoy the wealth they had acquired abroad.

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