BC Liberals Proclaim April Sikh Heritage Month But NDP Says It’s Just Electioneering As Clark Only Remembers You During Voting Time

SURREY – Last Friday, BC Liberals held a small event in Surrey to proclaim April as Sikh Heritage Month as party leader Christy Clark announced that 15 South Asian historic places are being added to British Columbia’s Register of Historic Places.

“We celebrate our diversity in British Columbia, because we know it’s our greatest strength. Now more than ever – we need to continue being an example for the world,” said Premier Clark. “There are communities in every corner of our province that British Columbians of South Asian descent have left their mark on, enriching us all.”

But NDP said how come Clark only thinks of these things at a time when she needs votes – where was she all these years on the announcement.

NDP said after 16 year in power, and just days before the start of an election, Clark has finally got around to recognizing Sikh Heritage Month. The timing suggests this may simply be electioneering and not a serious and sincere step of recognition.

John Horgan and the BC NDP support the designation, but know that much more must be done.

Christy Clark and her Liberals have blocked all efforts by John Horgan and the BC NDP to restore the BC Human Rights Commission. The Commission was removed by Christy Clark’s Liberals, making BC the only province in Canada without this agency.

“John Horgan and the BC NDP have been long time supporters of our community. We know that recognition of cultural heritage must also be backed by strong human rights actions. Christy Clark’s last-minute photo ops are not enough,” said Jagrup Brar, NDP Candidate in Surrey-Fleetwood.

“The BC NDP will take meaningful action. We will recognize Sikh Heritage Month, we will restore the Human Rights Commission, and we will take action on other issues that impact our community, like getting our kids out of portables, creating good jobs, and making life more affordable.”

The government press release stated the proclamation of Sikh heritage  is a recognition that celebrates B.C.’s diversity and multiculturalism and the significance of British Columbians of South Asian descent and their contribution to the province.

“We celebrate our diversity in British Columbia, because we know it’s our greatest strength. Now more than ever – we need to continue being an example for the world,” said Premier Clark. “There are communities in every corner of our province that British Columbians of South Asian descent have left their mark on, enriching us all.”

“I am pleased that we have been able to identify Historic Places that show the important contribution of South Asian Canadians to the development of B.C.,” mentioned Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

In 2016, a public nomination process began and included an evaluation by sector and community experts. As a result, a total of 24 eligible places were nominated by British Columbians and 15 of those are now being provincially recognized for their high significance to South Asian Canadian history in British Columbia. Heritage BC was engaged to administer the nomination process and create an interactive map that features all 24 eligible nominated sites with expanded documentation for the 15 historic places, available online: https://secure.heritagebc.ca/maps/

The list paints a rich picture of the contributions that South Asian Canadians have made to the development and prosperity of B.C. since the mid-19th century.

“This project gives all British Columbians an opportunity to see B.C. places from the South Asian Canadian perspective, helping preserve, explore and share our province’s multicultural heritage,” said Royal BC Museum chief operating officer and deputy CEO Angela Williams. “The Royal BC Museum looks forward to sharing stories about these places and their historical significance.”

Some of the recognized sites include:

* Punjabi Market, Vancouver – a collection of small businesses and stores, which historically have catered to the Punjabi community, this historic location illustrates the evolution and development of South Asian businesses following their initial involvement with the B.C.’s lumber industry. The Punjabi Market was thriving in the 1970s when a large influx of Punjabi people settled in South Vancouver and became inextricably woven into the city’s cultural fabric. It is also one of the gathering spots during Vaisakhi.

* Golden Sikh Temple, Golden – One of the earliest Sikh temples in B.C., though no longer standing, the gurdwara’s significance is recognized in its original location. The temple was far outside the Lower Mainland, and demonstrates early Sikhs had settled into B.C.’s southeast region. The gurdwara was a place where people practised their faith, socialized with others of the same faith and received the emotional support they needed to work and live so far from their homeland.

* Topaz Street Sikh Gurdwara, Victoria – Originally established in 1912 followed by the construction of a new building in 1969, this historic place was built by pioneers of the community, who faced many hardships in their journeys to British Columbia. It served free meals and was a place for new immigrants to connect with the community.

“South Asian century old history in B.C. is replete with province wide personal travels, subsequent settlements and socio-cultural investments in community spaces,” noted Advisory Committee member, and Director, Centre for Indo Canadian Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley, Satwinder Bains. “A recognition of our unique and rich history is a significant milestone in British Columbia’s historical trajectory of purposeful inclusion and acceptance of the impacts by diverse communities on our province.”

This is a milestone in the Provincial Recognition Program’s South Asian Historic Places Project. It marks the completion of a project designed to identify historic places and culturally important locations to help South Asian Canadians, and all British Columbians, honour this cultural history in perpetuity.

Quick Facts:

* The B.C. Register of Historic Places lists more than 3,400 historic places that have been formally recognized or protected by the province or a local government.

* One-quarter of people in B.C. are self-identified visible minorities, and 7.2% identify as South Asian Canadians.

* B.C. is the most ethnically diverse province in Canada and welcomes nearly 40,000 new immigrants as permanent residents every year.

The 15 sites are:

* Akali Singh Sikh Temple, Vancouver

* Burrard Inlet – Coal Harbour, Vancouver

* Mahal Cranberry Farm, Richmond

* Golden Sikh Temple, Golden

* Gur Sikh Temple, Abbotsford

* Guru Nanak Mining & Trust Co. – Commercial Building, Vancouver

* Joginder Bains Park, Lake Cowichan

* Kapoor, Sooke Lake

* Khalsa Diwan Society Gurdwara, Vancouver

* Paldi, Vancouver Island

* Punjabi Market, Vancouver

* Simcoe Park, New Westminster

* Tod Inlet, Vancouver Island

* Topaz Street Sikh Gurdwara, Victoria

* Youbou Mill, Lake Cowichan

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