Hindu communities have been a part of the Saskatchewan demography since the early 1960s. These early immigrants came in their 30s, with high levels of education, mostly to occupations in teaching, medicine and engineering. Two-thirds of the wives worked either part- or full-time in various support occupations. The human capital value they added to the province thus ran into millions of dollars. Coming as emigrants to the province from India, the UK, Uganda, and the Caribbean, they mostly settled in Regina and Saskatoon. They adapted to the environment and are well integrated into the wider culture, with many achieving not only professional recognition and awards but also broader societal and citizenship awards at national, provincial and municipal levels. New entrants in recent years have largely come as university students, short-term contract employees, or for interim employment.
The ranks of the early settlers have thinned as many retired persons have followed their grown children who are pursuing careers elsewhere in Canada or the USA. While a majority of the early settlers spoke Hindi, Gujarati or Punjabi, English became the language used at home in about half the families; this language loss is of concern to the community. Other concerns revolve around cultural issues such as arranged and mixed marriages, religious faith, conservative sexual mores, and accompanying changes. Concerns also exist as to whether children will have the same economic opportunities as their parents, and whether new economic realities will be accompanied by religion or race prejudices. Many of the community’s children attend the heritage language (Hindi and Gujarati) classes offered by the Multilingual Association of Regina, as well as Indian dance classes. The community supports the University Departments of Religious Studies in Regina and Saskatoon, which put ample focus on Hinduism in their teaching and research. The University of Regina’s Language Centre has also offered summer courses in Hindi for executives and managers.
Hindu religious beliefs are private and cannot be defined in terms of outward behaviour. A central belief is that all genuine religious paths lead to God and thus deserve tolerance and understanding. Informal gatherings in private homes evolved to become more formal organizations for the pursuit of deeper spiritual practices and observation of rituals conducive to growth, harmony and understanding of Hinduism (more correctly called Sanatana Dharma). An ISKCON-sponsored Hare Krishna Temple was established in Regina in 1977. The Vedanta Society of Saskatchewan, incorporated in 1977, established the Lakshmi Narayan Temple in Saskatoon in 1985; the Society changed its name in 1986 to Hindu Society of Saskatchewan. In Regina, many groups such as the Gita Study Group, Amrit Vani, Satya Sai Centre, and Himalayan Yoga/ Meditation Centre led to the formation of the Hindu Samaj of Southern Saskatchewan in 1987. They established the Hindu Temple in Regina which opened in 1990. Many members of the community are members of more than one of these temples: some also affiliate with the Sikh Society’s Gurudwara as well as the multi-faith Satya Sai Centre. A majority of the community members also affiliate with secular culture groups such as the India Canada Association of Saskatchewan (ICAS) and the Gujarati Samaj. City Councils in Regina and Saskatoon have erected statues of Mahatma Gandhi in their cities.