ICWA To Hold Big Forum On Immigration In Surrey

Posted by admin on Aug 31st, 2012

By Sunil Narula


Indo Canadian Workers Association (ICWA) will be holding a massive forum in Surrey next month to highlight the ‘anti-immigration policies of the Government of Canada’. More than a thousand people are expected to attend this forum which will be held on September 9 at Bear Creek Hall.

The recent immigration policy changes announced by Minister Jason Kenney are seen by ICWA as being anti-immigrants and they want to make people aware of these ‘biased’ policies.
The forum will also honour the memory of Bhai Bhag Singh, known as ‘‘the first Indian martyr on Canadian soil”.

“Bhai Bhag Singh fought against the injustice going on against immigrants in those days. But if we look around us, nothing much has changed. Even today the same anti-immigrant policies are going on in full force. Stopping family reunification and sponsorship, stopping skilled worker visas, cancelling 3,00,000 applications…it is all going on and we have to raise our voice against this injustice,” says Kulwant Dhesi one of the organisers of ICWA.

NDP’s critic of immigration, Jinny Sims has all along been raising her voice against these policies and she will once again be actively involved in this forum as well.

According to ICWA, Bhai Bhag Singh headed the Khalsa Diwan Society, which is the oldest Sikh religious body in Canada. He and his comrade Bhai Badan Singh were shot by Bela Singh, an agent of the British government, on September 5, 1914. Both victims died.

The shootings came less than two months after a ship with more than 350 Indian immigrants, the Komagata Maru, was turned away from Vancouver’s harbour.

Bhai Bhag Singh campaigned to allow Indian immigrants to bring their families to Canada. Canadian laws at the time prohibited people from moving to the country if they did not make a “continuous journey”, which was impossible to do by sea from India given the distance from Canada.

He also advocated on behalf of 376 passengers on the Komagata Maru, which was forced out of Burrard Inlet on July 23, 1914. Only 24 passengers were allowed to stay in Canada; the ship returned to Calcutta, where some passengers were fired upon by British soldiers.

Bhai Bhag Singh also helped launch Swadesh Sewak, which was the first Punjabi newspaper published outside India.

The function will be organised at Bear Creek Hall in Surrey (at 132 and 85 Avenue).

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