The Punjabi Experience in British ColumbiaWhat was life like for early Punjabi immigrants?

The Punjab is a region that includes an area in northwestern India and an area that is now in northeastern Pakistan.

The earliest Punjabi immigrants came to Canada in the late 1800s. Punjabi men continued to come to Canada throughout the early 1900s to earn money for their families back home. Many worked in BC’s robust forest industry.

It was not easy for Punjabi immigrants to come to Canada and once they arrived they did not always feel welcome. They often faced prejudice and racism, which meant that many immigrants felt they had to adopt Canadian culture if they wanted acceptance. However, Punjabis found support through the people of their own community. In 1906 the Khalsa Diwan Society formed and this group, still active today, held protests on issues such as racism. 

As part of the Indo Canadian Sawmill Pioneer Family Oral History Collection Project, produced by the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley, researchers held over 90 interviews with Indo Canadian immigrants. Project participants were encouraged to share their experiences and stories about immigrating and adjusting to life in Canada.

These interviews will be used to share the experiences of Indo Canadians with other British Columbians and to help Indo Canadian youth better understand and feel a connection to their history. 

Look for a selection of both the audio and video interviews from the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies in listen and watch. Discover the definition differences between South Asian, Indo Canadian and Punjabi in read

What do you think it was like for early Punjabi immigrants when they first arrived in BC?  


Watch a selection of interviews on the experience of Punjabi immigration, conducted by the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley



Listen to a selection of interviews discussing the experience of Punjabi immigration to Canada, led by the Centre for Indo- Canadian Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley.



View images of sawmills where Punjabi immigrants worked.