Steven Purewal (left) presents 1874 Red Ensign flag to Premier Christy Clark

South Asian military efforts marked at legislature

As Sikhs' ship turned away from Vancouver in 1914, another left to fight alongside Canada in World War I

An 1874 version of the Red Ensign flag has been presented to the B.C. government to commemorate the contribution of Indian Army soldiers to allied forces in World War I and their settlement in the province.

Steven Purewal, founder of Indus Media Foundation Canada, presented the flag to Premier Christy Clark Oct. 28 as a symbol of their contribution. Here are excerpts from Purewal’s speech:

“In 1849 Vancouver Island and the Punjab both became realms of the Crown. For the Punjab, the Victorian era opened up many opportunities within the vast military administration of the empire. And by the turn of the 19th Century, Punjabis had won many accolades as outstanding soldiers of the Queen in the various campaigns throughout Asia and Africa.

“As we know, in the summer of 1914, the ship Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver to a less than welcoming environment. It was a sad episode in our community’s history.

“But there is another story, an epilogue if you will, to the Komagata Maru story. And that is that another ship was asked to sail at the very same time the Komagata Maru was leaving from India, that was asked to sail to France.

“That ship contained the kith and kin of the people aboard the Komagata Maru. Their story is the story of the men that stood with Canada during its baptism of fire in World War I.

“The heroic story of the Canadians in Flanders Fields is told in our classrooms. But what’s not told is that the Punjabis were standing united with Canada. They were there as brothers in arms and friends in need. They stood true despite the events of Vancouver.

“On the centennial of World War I, our children should learn that the Indian Army won 9,000 gallantry awards, that the Indian Army fielded more men in World War I than all the other colonies put together, including Canada and Australia, that they were critical to the allied victory.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nimpkish to continue serving Central Coast until spring

The Northern Sea Wolf is still undergoing repairs

B.C. Indigenous communities receive funding for hands-on trades training

Nuxalk, Witset, Penticton Indian Band, TRU Williams Lake, and Camosun College among beneficiaries

Nuxalk College undertakes language digitization project

New tapes from over 50 years ago are set to be digitally transcribed

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Alessia Cara to host and perform at 2020 Juno Awards

Multi-platinum Canadian singer-songwriter also up for six awards, including Artist of the Year

Most Read