Brampton is home to many people who follow the Sikh faith. Thanks to a motion put forward by MPP Jagmeet Singh in 2013, April is the official month to celebrate Sikh culture, and this year, the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives (PAMA) is celebrating Sikh Heritage Month with an exhibit that should not be missed.
As part of PAMA’s Canada 150 celebrations, the museum is showcasing an exhibit entitled “Komagata Maru: A Journey to Canada”, as well as arts of the Sikh Kingdom and community curated Sikh art.
Sikhs have been an important part of the Canadian cultural landscape for over a century. In 1897, Kesur Singh, a risaldar-major in the British India Army, stepped off the ship Empress of India and landed in Vancouver, becoming the first Sikh settler in Canada. Early Sikh Canadians found work and contributed greatly to the lumber, mining, and farming industries of the west coast. Despite experiencing racism, Sikhs in Canada maintained a peaceful presence and flourished.
In 1904, the Komagata Maru incident marked a sad chapter in Canadian history when 376 passengers (Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu) travelling on a ship from India to Vancouver were denied admission by Canadian authorities to enter the country. Their ship was eventually turned away and sent back to India, where some of the passengers were killed.
Over time, Canadian governments increasingly accepted Sikhs, and today, nearly half a million live in Canada. They maintain a close relationship with the teachings of their faith; a belief in one God, the oneness of the peoples of the world, selfless service, social justice for the benefit and prosperity of all, and honest conduct and livelihood while living a humble life.
You can learn more about Sikhs, their history in Canada, and their contributions to the Canadian way of life at PAMA this month (April 2017).
In addition, an art exhibit by beloved Canadian contemporary artist Charles Pachter, entitled “What Makes This Country Tick?”, will present selected works that deal with iconic emblems of Canadian history and identity.
General admission is FREE courtesy of the Sikh Foundation of Canada. For more information, visit www.pama.peelregion.ca. Enjoy this special episode of Brampton Focus.