A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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PASSAGE FROM INDIA
Immigration History
Legacy

After 17 long years, Bagga Singh's wife Harkaur joined him in Canada. Soon after they had a third daughter Nsibe. For Bagga Singh, as with Indian Canadians in general, family ties and a sense of community were important parts of a full and prosperous life. When Bagga Singh discovered that his friend's wife was from his same village in India, he virtually adopted the young woman into the family. Her children grew up thinking of Bagga Singh as their grandfather and the close relationship between the families still continues, passing down through the generations. The heart relatives, they say, are as strong as the blood relatives.

It's these familial and community ties that have provided social comforts and the foundations for economic prosperity. Many Indian families grew and prospered. A century after their arrival, some Indians continue to work in the lumber mills. Many of them now own these mills. Bagga Singh, like other workers, moved from place to place, from the mainland to Paldi on Vancouver Island. Paldi, named after mill owner Mal Singh's village in the Punjab, is the one town established by Indians in Canada.

In 1947, four months after Indians received the right to vote in Canada, the British left India and gave the colony its independence. Celebrations went on around the world. In Canada, Bagga Singh, now a proud full-fledged citizen, must have rejoiced at India getting its freedom.

The Canadian Sikh community is still strongly affected by events concerning Sikhs and Sikhism in India. One central issue since the 1970s has been the rise of a nationalist movement in the Punjab for greater Sikh rights and for an independent Sikh state. Continued attention and involvement with Indian issues has effected Sikh religious practice in Canada. Heightened Sikh consciousness has led to a remarkable increase in Amritdharis and Keshdharis, even among second and third-generation Canadians(12).

With its strong community institutions and group consciousness, Sikhism has found fertile ground in Canada and has resisted pressures to assimilate. With continued immigration and the rise of a large second generation, it is estimated that Canadian Sikhs will number 200,000 by the year 2000(13).

Endnotes:

11-13 - The 1998 Canadian & World Encyclopedia
(McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1998).

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