By Anu Sahota
Today, Tuesday May 1st, marks the beginning of Asian Heritage Month and the first entry of the CBC Archives blog 2007. Throughout the month this site will feature excerpts from CBC Radio and Television programs of the past with the aim of complementing the many AHM events scheduled across the country.
Considering my last blog, a personal one, mostly featured pictures of Studs Terkel and bakelite radios, I am thrilled to be presenting moving media - the bulk of which has not been seen or heard for years. To this end, I invite you to examine and reflect on how the CBC has represented Asian Canadian history and experiences in decades past.
The inaugural clip I have chosen is taken from a September 1958 episode of the national documentary show Here and There. Our hero is Darshan Singh Gill, a young Sikh newly arrived from the Punjab who takes his first steps in adjusting to Canadian life amid Victoria B.C.'s Sikh community.
A quota on Indian immigration until the 1960s meant that South Asian communities in Canada were relatively small, and as a result, closely-knit. With little knowledge of English, Darshan must rely on the social ties already established by friends and family as he searches for employment at plywood mills and logging camps.
If you are wondering why his prospects are mostly limited to labour jobs consider the comments of the two, as the narrator puts it, "pale complexion strangers" at the counter upon his arrival at Patricia Bay airport. As Darshan passes by, the one fellow queries, "Hindoo?" The long held assumption that all Indian immigrants were Hindoos hints at the barriers that would have prevented an Indian immigrant from accessing the strata of Garden City society in the 1950s. Stay tuned throughout the month to learn how Darshan gets on.