The spirited journey of Canadian Sikhs

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

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.