We are honoured to have been entrusted by the South Asian Studies Institute to undertake this research. Never has the history of South Asian Canadians and their relationship to the BC labour movement been studied in this manner.

I am personally grateful to Dr Anushay Malik whose knowledge of South Asian history provided background and context of which we would not otherwise have been aware. Her enthusiasm and expertise have been invaluable.

Bailey Garden, the BC Labour Heritage Centre’s Project Manager has been relentless in her encouragement, excitement and talent in shaping the exhibit and the accompanying print version.

Henry John, Kaden Walters, Al Lundgren and John Mountain at the IWA Archives also deserve our appreciation for passionately preserving the union records we were able to draw upon for research. Our thanks also to Craig Berggold for his generosity with the Canadian Farmworkers Union Collection and connecting us with many individuals from that historic period.

The ground-breaking research conducted for this project has both benefited from and been challenged by the immensity of the task. By necessity, the result of our work over the past year is an overview. We accept these limitations and are satisfied to leave many avenues open for future study and research.

The stories of working people in British Columbia have historically been overshadowed by traditional colonial and capitalist-centred narratives. Our archives and history texts are rich in praise of the capitalists and owners, while woefully short of stories of the workers whose labour created the province’s wealth.

We are also painfully aware that the labour movement in BC was a willful participant in early racist attitudes, exclusionary policies and actions. We cannot shy away from this fact.

History records mistakes as well as triumphs. We acknowledge these and we commit to ensuring these mistakes are not repeated.

The South Asian Canadian population in BC has a long and complex relationship with the labour movement. From early exclusionary practices to a recognition that racism is a tool of the boss to divide workers, the tenacity and strength of community has always been forward looking.  As a result, the labour movement has benefited from strong South Asian leaders, activists and members.

Donna Sacuta, Executive Director

February 2022



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Union Zindabad! Copyright © 2022 by BC Labour Heritage Centre is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book