A History of Indo-Canadians of the National Capital Region

Memory Project

The Indo-Canadian Community Center (ICCC) has undertaken a project to develop a historical profile of the persons of Indian origin living in the National Capital Region. The project will trace the history of the first Indo-Canadians to arrive in Ottawa. It will then document the growth of the community during the 1960s and 1970s, as Canada overhauled its immigration system with the introduction of a merit-based point system to select immigrants from all countries, including India. Moving forward in time, it will examine the community as it presently exists, coping with the challenges of the 21st century for both the first generation immigrants and their children and grandchildren.

Project Mandate

The project will trace the growth of both the community and its institutions. These include the creation of community associations, acquiring and building of places of worship such as gurudwaras and temples, setting up classes and schools for imparting language training in a variety of Indian languages (e.g. Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and other regional languages) and setting up cultural institutions to teach Indian dance and music, to preserve our cultural heritage and pass it on to the next generation of Indo-Canadians.  It will record early challenges, including discrimination, faced by early immigrants in finding employment and settling down in a place with a very different climate as well as socio-cultural and culinary practices from the ones that they were familiar with. It will then examine the participation of the members of the Indo-Canadian community in the various activities of the community at large, such as the local, provincial and federal public services, academic institutions, business and commerce, social and charitable organizations and political processes. It will end by outlining the current challenges faced by the second and third generation Indo-Canadians in becoming full and equal participants in their new

Sources of Information

The project will use both primary and secondary sources of information to prepare a comprehensive report on Indo-Canadians in the National Capital Region.  These sources would include, among others:

  • Interviews of pioneers and selected members of the community, including office bearers of the various Indo-Canadian community associations;
  • Focus Groups of different cohorts of immigrants;
  • Archival material from the Indian High Commission and other sources;
  • Statistics Canada data, including Census data;
  • News and articles from print and electronic media.

Project Team & Timeline

The members of this project team are Mr. Nand Tandan, Dr. Prabir Neogi, and Dr. Indu Gambhir. Ms. Sheetal Sungha is a consultant. The Committee’s goal is to complete the project in 2014, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident (click here to read about the incident).

The Committee welcomes input from the community and to receive untold stories. Please use the comments below to give us your feedback.