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The spirited journey of Canadian Sikhs

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Sikh gents in New Westminster Courtesy of the Sikh Heritage Museum of Canada | shmc.ca

By Baisakhi Roy

In 1907 a two page article appeared in the Canadian Life and Resources Magazine entitled “Another type of New Citizen” with the subtitle – A glance at the spirited Sikhs of India who are becoming a feature of the industrial life of our Pacific Coast.

The article started with the following paragraph…

“To those who are interested in the development of our country every type of new settler is a subject for study. The English and Americans we know and the Irish and the Scotch, and of most of the people of Europe who are coming to us we have some broad idea.  But there are arriving now on our Pacific coast men of a nation about whom most Canadians have only a very shadowy idea – the Sikhs of the Punjab.”

And ended with the following paragraph…

“What will be the outcome of this migration from crowded India to sparsely settled Western Canada? What success will these Sikh have in a strange land and what part will they play in the industrial life of this country?  These questions the future alone can answer”

Here are but a few answers…

They toiled in the factories

They cultivated the fields

They ran the sawmills

They built the railways

They carried the cement

They established Sikh Gurdwaras (Temples)

They served in the Canadian Army

They resisted relocation to British Honduras

They advocated for the passengers of the Komagata Maru

They persevered without wives and families

They overcame disenfranchisement

They became professionals

They became Police Officers

They became boxers

They became the Premier

They became the Minister of Revenue, Multiculturalism and Defence to name a few

They became Canadian and received the Order of Canada.

Source: http://www.bramptonguardian.com

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Ethnic Indian Jai Sears responds to complaint against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada

Jai Sears wrote in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier

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Gandhi
Mahatama Gandhi, leader of non violence

Jai Sears from Grenada, Caribbean has written a letter to editor in response to complaints against the statue of Gandhi in Grenada. Here is the text:

I write in response to a letter on Mahatma Gandhi entitled “Dustbin of history” written by Josiah Rougier and published in the Grenada newspaper, The New Today (Nov 3, 2017). In his letter, Rougier is asking the Government to remove the bust-statue of Gandhi which overlooks Sauteurs Bay in Grenada where East Indians arrived 160 years ago. Rougier’s opinion is based on the false notion that Gandhi was racist because the Mahatma reportedly considered Indians to be superior to black Africans when he referred to the latter as “kaffirs.”

Gandhi was only 27 years old when he made that contextual statement. If Rougier had done his research, he would have found that Nelson Mandela said: “Gandhi must be forgiven for these prejudices in the context of the time and the circumstances.” The quote can be found in “Gandhi the Prisoner” by Nelson Mandela published in 1995. Gandhi was a man; he was not god. And even god made mistakes.

In favour of Mahatama Gandhi
Photo of Jai Sears

Rougier must instead focus on the Gandhi’s vision of non-violent protest and his belief in satyagraha which inspired rebels and revolutionaries around the world. Gandhi’s ideas influenced leaders of the African National Congress and the struggle by Indians and blacks against white apartheid rule in South Africa. From as early as 1956 when he was 27 years old, Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to Gandhi as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”

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Following the success of his boycott, King contemplated traveling to India to deepen his understanding of Gandhian principles. The fact is that Gandhi saw people of all races, castes, colours and creeds as equal which led to his assassination by a Hindu fanatic in 1948. So who is this unknown Josiah Rougier? Is he as illustrious as the great Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King? And is he disagreeing with his possible heroes?

A friend to all.
Jai Sears
Grenada, Caribbean

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