On 23 August 1985, then Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney, officially opened the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam and then Premier of British Columbia, Bill Bennett. The opening of the first Ismaili Centre in North America was a historic moment for the Jamat in Canada and around the world.
Both past and recent events held at the Centre demonstrate its role in fostering a pluralistic civil society where the diversity of cultures, traditions and ideas are celebrated. Since the opening of the Centre, the building has continually welcomed citizens from within its neighbourhood to discuss the commonalities amongst their faiths.
The Ismaili community in Canada is celebrating 50 years of calling this country their home in 2021-22. The community started migrating in large numbers to Canada in 1971. The Ismaili Centre, Burnaby, as one of the representatives of the community across the country, will contribute an exciting chapter the South Asian Canadian Social History Book that will tell a story of community’s cultural, social, economic and other contributions to enrich British Columbia’s diversity and prosperity. The Centre has also expressed its eagerness to contribute to the other projects under SACLP such as Historic Sites and Learning Resource development to promote ideas and practices in pluralism and inclusion.
The South Asian Canadian Digital Archive (SACDA) has partnered with The Cowichan Valley Museum and Archives to digitize and describe the Joan Mayo Fonds and Mayo Singh Family Fonds for inclusion in the forthcoming SACDA portal. The two fonds document the town of Paldi, Mayo Singh’s family and their companies.
The South Asian Canadian Digital Archive (SACDA) has partnered with The Reach Gallery Museum to digitize and describe a portion of the Del Monte Studio Collection. The Reach has selected around four hundred sittings and thousands of individual images done by the photographic studio from 1956-2000 with South Asian families in the Abbotsford region.
Dr. Kanwal Singh Neel
Dr. Kanwal Singh Neel is a career educator who has served as a teacher with the Richmond School District, and the Associate Director of Professional Programs in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Canada. He is currently a coordinator with SFU’s Friends of Simon, an outreach program where university students tutor and mentor immigrant and refugee children after school.
Kanwal is an internationally acclaimed mathematics educator, speaker at many international conferences, host of the award-winning television series Math Shop and one of the authors of Mathematics Makes Sense textbook series published by Pearson Canada.
Highly engaged in his community, Kanwal has been a tireless volunteer for over 50 years in the South Asian community. He was coordinator for the 75th Anniversary of the Komagata Maru Incident, and during the centennial of the Incident he served as an advisor to the Komagata Maru: Continuing the Journey Project with the SFU Library. He is well known in the sports world as an international track and field official.
Dr. Neel is also supporting the Curriculum Development project of SACLP through his significant work with the Open School BC, especially offering his support for stakeholder engagement to promote diverse community participation. Additionally, Dr. Neel is serving as a valuable member of the South Asian Canadian Historic Sites Advisory Committee.
Contractors and Service Agreements
Founded in 1919 as the B.C. Elementary Correspondence School, Open School BC first offered printed courses to students in rural settings. 100 years later, the school is offering online courses, educational services and resources for both public and independent schools, as well as the public sector. The delivery of educational materials may have changed dramatically, but the goal is still the same: supporting learners and teachers with high-quality resources.
In 2019, Open School BC commemorated a century of work in distributed learning with a year-long online celebration.
Through the South Asian Canadian Legacy Project (2020-2022) at South Asian studies Institute, University of the Fraser Valley in partnership with Open School BC, the research team will work on the development of learning resources for South Asian Canadians which will be relevant to the social studies curriculum for K-12 schools in BC.
StudioThink is a web design and branding agency operating out of the Metro Vancouver Area. Founded in 1997, StudioThink has worked with organizations such as Haida House, the City of Abbotsford, and Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society on web design and branding projects. The South Asian Studies Institute has partnered with StudioThink to design the front end portal and logo for the South Asian Canadian Digital Archive.
The BC Labour Heritage Centre Society was founded in 2004 with JJ (Jack) Munro as Chair. The Society preserves, documents and presents the rich history of working people in British Columbia. The Society engages in partnerships and projects that help define and express the role that work and workers have played in the evolution of social policy and its impact on the present and future shaping of the province. The Society’s motto is “Preserving Our Past, Preparing Our Future”
The association of South Asian workers with Labour Heritage Centre goes back since early 1900’s when Darshan Singh Sangha was elected one of the Shop Stewards of I.W.A. With the end of the Depression, labour’s long hostility towards Asian workers slowly began to change. The International Woodworkers of America (I.W.A.) led the way by hiring three non-Caucasian organizers to break down the barriers of race and unite workers across ethnic divides in the forest industry’s diverse workforce. Though rarely remembered as union pioneers today, Roy Mah, Joe Miyazawa and Darshan Singh Sangha all played key roles during the union’s intense organizing drives of the 1940s. https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ethnicdivides/
The BC Labour Oral History Project has been conducting audio and video interviews with working people involved in the history of British Columbia since March 2016. The Project has a shortlist of individuals with whom we are pursing interviews. These interviews are digitally archived and the first set of 12 full-length video interviews and summaries are available to the public online through Simon Fraser University’s Digital Collections. https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/research/oral-history/
In partnership with BC’s Labour Heritage Centre, South Asian Studies Institute’s goal is to do the research and development of an online comprehensive B.C. Labour Movements Social Histories Research Project under the South Asian Canadian Legacy Project (2020-2022).
The Royal BC Museum Corporation is one of Canada’s greatest cultural treasures. The museum was founded in 1886; the Archives, in 1894. In 2003, these two organizations joined to become British Columbia’s combined provincial museum and archives, collecting artifacts, documents and specimens of British Columbia’s natural and human history, safeguarding them for the future and sharing them with the world.
Through research and learning, the Museum strives to broaden understanding about the province and inspire curiosity and wonder. They are passionate about sharing British Columbia’s story with the millions of visitors who walk through the doors and explore their website each year.
Their collections, research and presentations enable them to tell the stories of British Columbians in the ways that enlighten, stimulate and inspire. By exploring their social and environmental history, the Royal BC Museum advances new knowledge and understanding of British Columbia, and provides a dynamic forum for discussion and a place for reflection.
Since 2014, the South Asian Studies Institute has partnered with the Royal BC Museum to record, narrate and include in a historical record the stories of Punjabi settlers in the Province of British Columbia. To date, the SASI and the RBCM have collected interviews and collected archives of 148 Punjabi families across the entire Province.
The details of the RBCM and SASI partnership can be read in Royal BC Museum in Partnership with the SASI Unveils New Exhibit: Haq & History and Punjabi Canadian Legacy Project (PCLP) blogs.
Dr. Inderjit Mann
Dr. Inderjeet Mann is working as a Political Scientist for the South Asian Canadian Legacy Project. He is developing a chapter on the political history of South Asian Canadians.
Dr. Mann holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and International Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi. Dr. Mann has been affiliated with Simon Fraser University in a research capacity. His Post-Doctoral Research on Political Participation of Ethnic Minorities in Canada was undertook at JNU and at the South Asian Studies Institute. The Post-doctoral work was funded by Indian Council of Social Sciences Research and the Shastri Indo Canadian Institute. His graduate research degree, M.Phil. was undertaken in the area of Human Rights.
Dr. Mann has taught political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Central University of Punjab and Government College, Bathinda. He participated as a Chair in the World Congress of Political Science held at Montreal in 2014. He has also participated with Amnesty International India as a member.
His current research interests include a focus on South Asian Canadian Diaspora and its issues and multifaceted aspects in Canadian state and society.
Currently Dr. Inderjeet Mann is the 2021 South Asian Research Fellow at the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley and is working on the Farmers Movement in India and the Diaspora’s response (with a special focus on Punjab).
Paneet Singh is a playwright and filmmaker whose work is largely inspired and informed by Sikh and South Asian culture and history, and who is most well known for his two stageplays, The Undocumented Trial of William C. Hopkinson, which has sold out every performance since its 2016 premiere, and the critically-acclaimed A Vancouver Guldasta, which was an honourable mention in “The Best of Vancouver Theatre in 2018” by Vancouver Presents. Paneet was also picked as one of 2018’s “most exciting fresh faces to watch” and a “major player” in Vancouver’s South Asian Theatre community in 2019 by Colin Thomas.
Outside of theatre and film, Paneet’s work is mostly based in history and education. He is a co-host of The Nameless Collective Podcast, which follows histories of South Asians in British Columbia.
Through the South Asian Canadian Legacy Project (2020-2022) at South Asian studies Institute, University of the Fraser Valley in partnership with Paneet Singh, the research team will work on the production of short films on Historic Sites.
Henna Mann is one of the filmmakers for the South Asian Canadian Legacy Project (SACLP) at the South Asian Studies Institute (SASI), University of the Fraser Valley. She is a second year student at York University in Toronto, Ontario where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production. She is working towards specializing in documentary filmmaking with hopes to write and direct journalistic documentaries. Her most recent documentary in collaboration with SASI touches the history, research and mission of SASI with interviews from the members of the Faculty and the SACLP team.
While studying full-time, Henna is also a part-time photographer and videographer. She works as the Media Director and Influencer Marketer for The Communications Studies Students Association (CSSA) at her University. As a Director and Marketer, she hosts the popular Weekly CSSA Advice Segment. Currently, she is working on a short film for SACLP covering the history and creation of Canada’s National Historic Site, Gur Sikh Temple and British Columbia’s Sikh Heritage Museum.
The Abbotsford Community Foundation was conceived by a series of initiating events that started with a substantial donation by the Trethewey Family to the Matsqui Parks and Recreation Commission in 1978. The Abbotsford Community Foundation has experienced steady asset growth over the years. This has come about through the generous giving of a number of people in the community plus the establishment of several special funds by other not for profit groups and special interest organizations within the area. ACF’s current endowment is over $12 million and from 1980 to 2019 has distributed more than $11 million in grants and student awards. These grants have been made to many charitable organizations for programs and projects in Abbotsford related to education, culture, arts, sports, agriculture enhancement, recreation and social issues like homelessness and poverty. In 2020, the ACF will have a record year of granting with $950,000 allocated for community granting!
The South Asian Studies Institute has partnered with the Department of Information Studies at UFV to provide students with practicum placements on the South Asian Canadian Digital Archive (SACDA). As part of their placement, students received training on digitization best practices and item-level description using the Canadian standard Rules for Archival Description. The students’ work will be visible in the forthcoming SACDA portal.
The South Asian Canadian Legacy Project of the South Asian Studies Institute, UFV, is the successful recipient of the MITACS Business Strategy Internship grant of $10,000 from January 11, 2021 to May 11, 2021. MITACS introduced this new grant based on the new economic landscape due to COVID-19.
This internship presents an opportunity to an UFV student to learn the new realities of community outreach and changing nature of business strategies in fulfilling organizational and project goals. The intern gets an opportunity at a professional level by working and engaging with diverse and inter-disciplinary stakeholders from the community, and learning about the Archives and Museums sector to facilitate a successful transition into a new growth opportunity.
Mitacs is a non-profit national research organization that, in partnerships with Canadian academia, private industry and government, operates research and training programs in fields related to industrial and social innovation.