Skip to Main Content

Asian Canadian History and Archives

About These Collections

The fonds and collections included here contain the records of South Asian Canadians, associations by and for South Asian Canadians, and non-Asian creators whose records contain information relevant to the South Asian Canadian experience.

Archival Collections by South Asian Canadian Creators

Hakim Singh Hundal left India for Canada in 1911 with his mother, Bishan Kaur, and his four sons, Atma, Iqbal, Teja, and Jermeja. The family spent two years living in the Hong Kong Sikh Temple awaiting immigration clearance and eventually arrived in Canada in 1913 after a barrage of appeals to all levels of government. The Hundals lived in Point Grey and the children attended Queen Mary Elementary and Prince of Wales High School, before attending various colleges. Hakim became a director of the Canadian-Indian Supply and Trust company.

Iqbal (b. 1902) earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Washington in 1925 and went on to become an aeronautical engineer in the United States. While in the United States, Iqbal also served with the Air Unit of the Reserve Officers Training Corps. Later, he married Ranjit Kaur Bains and had at least one son and one daughter. He also worked in the automobile industry in Oshawa, Ontario.

Teja (b. 1903) worked as a lumber grader for 35 years and married Beatrice Evelyn MacDonald. He died in Burnaby, B.C.

Jermeja "Jerry" (b. 1905/6) attended UBC and Oregon State College. He lived and worked for a time in Toronto where he met his wife, Joyce. The couple moved to Los Angeles in 1957, where he opened the West Coast office of Air-India. Prior to that, he was the commercial assistant to the Indian consul general in San Francisco. In the 1960s, he was also the president of the India-American Society.

The fonds consists of family documents (passports, U.S. education degrees) and photographs of the Hundals entering Canada, their home in Vancouver, and the universities in the U.S. where they were educated.

‚ÄčThe Trans-Himalayan Aid Society (TRAS), formerly the Tibetan Refugee Aid Society, is a not-for-profit international development organization based in Vancouver, B.C. TRAS was founded by author George Woodcock and his wife Inge after they visited India and met His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in the 1960s. TRAS became an official Society of British Columbia in 1962 and its name was changed to the Trans-Himalayan Aid Society in 1990. Areas of focus include: education campaigns; building settlements, schools and homes for children and the elderly; vocational training; environmental, agricultural and health programs; and the preservation of arts and culture.

The fonds consists of records generated by TRAS in the course of raising and administering funds to overseas partners.

Ujjal Dosanjh, born September 9, 1947 in the village of Dosanh Kalan, Jallandhar India, is a former Canadian Federal and Provincial politician. Dosanjh has also been a prominent and vocal advocate against violence and extremism, speaking out against those who use these means to attempt to establish a Sikh homeland in India called Khalistan. This position has caused friction within the BC Punjabi community resulting in numerous serious threats by mail and in person. Dosanjh moved to Vancouver, BC in 1968. In the 1991 B.C. general election he was victorious in the newly formed riding of Vancouver-Kensington. In 1995, Dosanjh was elevated from a backbencher to the cabinet of the premier as Minister of Government Services and Minister Responsible for Sports, Multiculturalism, Human Rights, and Immigration. Then in August he was appointed Attorney General of BC. Under his tenure from 1995 to 2000, Dosanjh advocated for greater equality for gays and lesbians, combated violence against women, argued for restorative justice, and oversaw the armed confrontation between the aboriginal Secwepemc Nation and the RCMP in an incident known as the Gustafsen Lake Standoff. In 1999, sitting BC premier Glen Clark was ensnarled by accusations involving undue influence in the review of a neighbour’s casino licence application. Clark was forced to resign and new NDP leadership elections were set for early 2000. On Febuary 24, 2000, Ujjal Dosanjh was appointed Premier of B.C., the first Indo-Canadian to do so. Premier until June 2001, he focused on balancing the provincial budget and advocating for social justice. In 2004, newly aligned with the Liberal Party of Canada and representing the federal electoral district of Vancouver South, Dosanjh was appointed Minister of Health by Prime Minister Paul Martin. Dosanjh strongly supported Canada’s publicly funded health care, working to prevent the provinces from privatizing the system. He occupied the position from 2004 to 2006. The Liberal party was defeated in the 2006 federal election, however Dosanjh once again won his riding. He joined his party as the Official Opposition, serving as the critic for National Defence and served on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Re-elected in the 2008 federal election he continued to be the Liberal’s critic for National Defence. A campaign for a fourth consecutive term was launch in 2011 but resulted in defeat and retirement from politics. Dosanjh returned to private life and continues to actively advocate against violence and extremism.

The fonds consists of Ujjal Dosanjh’s private records from 1977 to 2015, comprising of all aspects of Donsanjh’s life in Canada. A prominent portion relates to his lifelong advocacy of Indo-Canadian issues.

Digitized Collections

Materials from RBSC and beyond are digitized and available for viewing online at UBC Open Collections. Those that relate directly to South Asian Canadian history are listed below.

Convened under the auspices of the International Association for Sanskrit Studies, the triennial World Sanskrit Conference is the premier international forum for professional researchers and educators of the Sanskrit language and its literatures, as well as the history, religion, and cultures of premodern South Asia. The 17th WSC was held in Vancouver, B.C. from July 9-13, 2018, and attracted 600+ delegates from around the world. This online collection constitutes the Proceedings of the 17th WSC, and contains selected full-length papers from the 500 presentations approved for inclusion in the conference programme by the WSC2018 Academic Advisory Board.