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Indo-Canadians Need To Get Beyond Bhangra Dancing If They Want To Create Solid Identity In Canada

Discussion in 'Book Reviews & Editorials' started by spnadmin, Apr 4, 2011.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    1947-2014 (Archived)
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    The author raises some serious issues. Yet, I am not convinced that the comments in this editorial are deserved. They may be too harsh. They may overlook some of the contributions made through Bhangra Dancing in the west. I will don my crash helmet and wait for your replies.

    The Community Remains Polarized To Make Any Significant Impact On Canadian Fabric

    “There are no streets named for Sikh pioneers. There are few donated artifacts from Sikh families in my collection, and no photos. Typically speaking, we all know that Indo-Canadians live in our community. But if you all were sucked up into a gigantic vortex and disappeared tomorrow, how would the next generation know you had ever been here?,” says Christina Reid Of Abbotsford’s MSA Museum.

    By Ken Herar
    “Diversity would be working better if East Indians participated more within the community.”

    As much as I hate to admit it there is some validity to that point. For multiculturalism to survive in Canada and to be an effective government policy for future generations, there has to be equal participation from all people.

    Unfortunately, I have heard it too many times: that we’re working in separate silos and those walls are getting harder to penetrate.
    Abbotsford in many ways is leading this discussion as evidence by the many brilliant groups of individuals working diligently to address this issue.

    When we examine cultural divide issues, they not only exist within mainstream society, but also within ethnic communities. For example, the Indo-Canadian comedy show incident in Abbotsford where the police cancelled the popular show in addition to making a few arrests.

    This particular incident raised comments from various members of the South Asian community. For example, I heard comments such as this: “It’s the newer immigrants from India that are ruining it for the rest of us.”

    It’s loud and clear that the cultural divide within the Indo-Canadian community is also growing parallel with the mainstream. Being born and raised here my values are often different than someone coming from India.

    I don’t speak fluent Punjabi and some members from my community find that hard to believe. Not all members from the South Asian community are the same, as one might believe. There are South Asians who have been here for several generations – more than 50 years.

    Then there are families who fit somewhere in the middle with 20-30 years of Canadian residency, followed by the newest group who may have been here less than 20 years. Consequently, members maybe at diverse stages along the Canadian experience spectrum.

    There was a time decades ago, when you could fit everyone in the same room. This has become virtually impossible now as the community continues to grow.

    I heard an interesting fact: If Indo-Canadian all came together and were to form their own city in Canada it would be the third largest city in our nation.

    Indo-Canadian leaders should take a closer look at these subtle divisions and attempt to address them in order to create unity, understanding and respect not only within the Indo-Canadian community, but the larger mainstream of Canadian society.
    Christina Reid from the MSA Museum contacted me about an upcoming event they are hosting at the Trethewey House on May 14. They’ve put together a program to answer the following question: “If you were a pioneer who had just arrived to Abbotsford 120 years ago, what skills would you [need] to have or learn to survive here?”

    The idea is for the public to be invited to the site, which we will have set up as a working homestead for the day, and to have people who are engaged in the activities that would have taken place when our pioneers were settling. Reid is requesting for more Indo-Canadian participation to gain insight.

    “I have tried in many different ways to provide opportunities for participation for the Indo-Canadian community. It has become painfully obvious to me that when we ask for Indo-Canadian participation at our events, we invariably ask for Bhangra dancers and demonstrations of how to wrap a turban,” said Reid.
    “Now is the time to decide if you want Canadian culture to be one that includes your ethnic heritage, or if your heritage should be something that sits isolated in a part of town where only those kinds of people live.
    “There are no streets named for Sikh pioneers. There are few donated artifacts from Sikh families in my collection, and no photos.”

    Many settlers were here long before the Anglo-Saxon/German/Dutch-Scandinavian families who do have streets and schools named for them.
    “Typically speaking, we all know that Indo-Canadians live in our community. But if you all were sucked up into a gigantic vortex and disappeared tomorrow, how would the next generation know you had ever been here?”, Reid asked.

    Ken “Kulwinder” Herar is a Mission-based writer and a winner of the champions of diversity award for his columns in the LINK newspaper and other Fraser Valley newspapers. Herar can be reached at kenherar@gmail.com or view his blog at http://www.kenherar.blogspot.com

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