Manitoba recreates iconic 1908 photo to celebrate perseverance and pride of Sikh pioneers

This iconic photo, Sikhs in Canada, was taken in 1908 by Vancouver street photographer Phillip Tim. (Phillip Tim)
By Asia Samachar Team | CANADA |

You’ve got to hand it to the Sikhs of Manitoba for their eye-caching idea to celebrate the presence of Sikhs in Canada.

As part of the Sikh Heritage Month in Manitoba, they recreated a scene from an iconic 1908 photo that — from the Sikh perspective – talks about how the early Sikh pioneers shaped Canada.

The story was beautifully captured by the Trevor Dineen from CBC News in an article entitled ‘Iconic Sikh photo recreated in downtown Winnipeg‘. He writes:

“When you look at the photo above, what do you see? The streetcar stands out pretty quickly. So does the architecture of the early 1900s. Your eye may be drawn to how well everyone is dressed or even the horse in the background.

“But for generations of Sikhs in Manitoba and across Canada, they see something more. They see pioneers. They see perseverance. But most of all, they see pride.”

The original image that served as the inspiration for the recreation of the historic moment in time was captured by Phillip Timms in Vancouver at the intersection of Grandville and Hastings Street in 1908.

The image became one of the most iconic photographs chronicling the journey of Sikh pioneers at a time which was rather difficult for the men and women of the community. Yet these men radiated a resilience and what we in the Sikh faith refer to as ‘Chardi Kalla’ an eternal optimism in the face of all adversity, noted Sikh Heritage Manitoba, a local Sikh outfit working on the Sikh identity.

“We at Sikh Heritage Manitoba wanted to pay homage to the early pioneers in a Manitoban context capturing contemporary experiences of Sikh stories and acknowledge the pioneers who chose Canada as their home today as well,” they shared in a note on their Facebook.⁣

“The re-imagination of this photograph from a 21st century perspective while showing a gender equality stance was of paramount importance to Sikh Heritage Manitoba.”

It added that this year also marks the 100th anniversary for Sikh women and children being allowed to come to Canada, after they were initially barred in the early 1900s. Women were present in spirit if not physically present in this context and they were equally central to the Canadian Sikh story.⁣⁣

One key development in also taking place in Manitoba.

The Government of Manitoba has officially proclaimed April 2019 as Sikh Heritage Month in Manitoba. Now, local Sikhs are working on getting the support for Bill 228 which will have Sikh Heritage Month legislated permanently for every April to come.

100 YEARS LATER: Sikh Heritage Manitoba recreates the iconic 1908 photo


Canadian Sikh community donate to charity all proceeds from gurdwara land sale (Asia Samachar, 5 April 2019)


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