The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

 

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Indo-Canadian Community

Fashion Show rehearsal for “Indian Night,” March 1994.
Robert Watson (Regina Leader-Post)

Indian and other South Asian immigrants started coming to Saskatchewan in the early 1960s. They originated from different parts of the world such as India, Pakistan, Uganda, the Caribbean, and the United Kingdom. These early settlers came with high levels of education and into occupations in medicine, engineering, and teaching. They mostly settled in Regina and Saskatoon, with a few living in smaller towns. Many were young families, or started their families in Saskatchewan. A majority of the wives, also highly educated, worked either part- or full-time in various occupations. All had English language skills and quickly adapted to their new environment. Many achieved professional recognition in their careers, and many have received broader societal and citizenship awards at national, provincial and municipal levels.

The majority of these settlers acquired Canadian citizenship, but maintained links with their roots and periodically traveled back home to visit family, relatives and friends, and to maintain cultural links for their children. While a majority spoke Hindi, Gujarati or Punjabi, English became the language used at home in about half the families. This loss of mother tongue for their youths is of concern to the community, and Hindi and Gujarati classes are offered with the aid of multicultural associations in the province. In addition, Indian dance classes offered locally as well as by visiting professionals have helped to retain Indian culture.

The communities showcase their cultural arts and cuisine at annual multicultural festivals such as Folkfest in Saskatoon and Mosaic in Regina. The communities have erected statues of Mahatma Gandhi in the cities of Regina and Saskatoon; they also support the Shastri lecture series at the two universities in the province. The ranks of the early settlers have tended to become thin, as many retired persons have followed their grown children who have chosen to pursue careers elsewhere in Canada or the United States. But new immigrants have come to replace them, and the Indo-Canadian communities are continuing their presence in the province. The new immigrants fit into an increasingly diverse occupational spectrum. The numbers of Indo-Canadian students at the two universities have also been increasing. The religious faiths of Indo-Canadians consist mainly of Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, and Christianity. The province now has a few Hindu temples, Muslim mosques and Sikh gurudwaras, all of which belong to the multi-faith forums in Regina and Saskatoon. The unique architectural style of these various houses of worship has added richness to the provincial landscape. A majority of the community members also affiliate the secular India-focused culture groups such as the India-Canada Association of Saskatchewan and the Gujarati Samaj. Eastern religious-philosophical thinking has also introduced a number of non-denominational meditation and yoga centres into the province.

Kalburgi Srinivas

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Further Reading

Buchignani, N., D.M. Indra and R. Srivastiva. 1985. Continuous Journey: A Social History of South Asians in Canada. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart; Srinivas, K.M. and S.K. Kaul. 1987. Indo-Canadians in Saskatchewan: The Early Settlers. Regina: India-Canada Association of Saskatchewan.
This web site was produced with financial assistance
provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan.
University of Regina Government of Canada Government of Saskatchewan Canadian Plains Research Center
Ce site Web a été conçu grâce à l'aide financière de
Diversification de l'économie de l'Ouest Canada et le gouvernement de la Saskatchewan.