By Barj Dhahan,
Special to The Post
We are as Canadian as anyone else.
As we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday this year, let us consider the role of Indo-Canadians in building one of the leading democracies in the world. From the blueberry and strawberry farms in British Columbia’s fertile Fraser Valley to the Centre Block of Parliament in Ottawa, and from small town lumber mills to the large corporate headquarters in Toronto, Indo-Canadians occupy positions across all layers of the workforce, including posts of leadership and influence.
Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, once said that “Action is the foundational key to all success.” Immigration from South Asia to Canada started with a small group of adventurous pioneers over a century ago. They passed on their resolve to build a better life to subsequent generations who have been striving with unflinching determination to advance socially and economically.
That resolve however was not forged without adversity. We withstood the discriminatory immigration laws of the early 1900s that deterred family reunification and curtailed further immigration until the 1950’s. We challenged the notorious Continuous Passage Act which culminated with the infamous incident of the Komagata Maru in 1914. For nearly fifty long years we vigorously fought the illegal denial of our right to vote. Until 1947, we were barred from the professions of law, engineering and medicine, and prevented from owning property in certain parts of the country. Having overcome these barriers and obstacles we have become an integral and dynamic part of the great Canadian mosaic enriching the social, economic and political scape of Canada.
Today Indo-Canadians account for nearly twenty per cent of all legal professionals in the country, including occupying posts as lawmakers, judges, and senior police officers. In British Columbia, South Asian builders are driving segment of the construction industry. The same can be said of our activity in the trucking and logistics industries.
In British Columbia Indo-Canadians grow over eighty percent of the berries and sixty percent of fruits. From a village boy who became a premier to the many who are serving as municipal counsellors, provincial legislators and federal cabinet ministers, we are shaping Canada’s politics, policies and programs affecting the daily lives of all Canadians.
Among us are Olympians, hockey and football players, comedians and entertainers, authors and journalists, broadcasters and film makers, and movie stars and fashion models. In the world of finance and corporate board rooms we are in prominent executive roles. From Chief Executive Officers of Canada Post and TD Bank, Indo-Canadians are leading the massive technological innovation taking place in the delivery of services.
Diwali, Vaisakhi and Eid are celebrated across Canada as are Christmas and Hanukah. Hockey Night in Canada is broadcast in Punjabi and today the President of Canada’s most iconic brand Tim Hortons is a son of Indian immigrants.
Are we successful? Absolutely!
Is Canada thriving? Without a doubt!
Barj has over thirty years of success in operating businesses in land development, construction, food services, and the distribution of refined petroleum products. He operates the Sandhurst Group of Companies. Go to www.barjdhahan.ca for more information.