Soldiers in Vancouver harbour en route to or from London for Edward VII’s coronation, 1902. Philip Timms photo, Vancouver Public Library 3027.

South Asians who arrived in British Columbia in the early 20th century were already exposed to radical thought and ethnic awareness. Reform movements in Punjab had been gathering momentum for decades; early Sikhs brought with them the influence of the reform propaganda that they had encountered as soldiers. [1]

Men who emigrated for economic reasons became politicized in Canada and found they could express them “in a more vital way than they would have at home”. [2] Others were motivated to relocate due to persecution for their anti-colonial or other revolutionary activities which had garnered unwanted attention. One such individual, Husain Rahim, actually changed his name upon arrival in B.C. as a means of avoiding persecution.

  1. Hugh Johnston, "Group Identity in an Emigrant Worker Community: The Example of Sikhs in early Twentieth-Century British Columbia." BC Studies 148 (Winter 2005/06): 9.
  2. Johnston, "Group Identity," 3.


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