Book features local Punjabis

LOCALS ARE featured in a new book about the northwest that was years in the making.

LOCALS ARE featured in a new book about the northwest that was years in the making.

Kamala Elizabeth Nayar, professor of Asian Studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, recently had her first book published: The Punjabis in British Columbia, Location, Labour, First Nations and Multiculturalism.

It took four years to research and two years to complete a draft of the whole book, said Nayar by email.

“I hope that readers find a greater appreciation for the rich multicultural history of First Nations and immigrants in B.C.’s north coast, which tends to be overshadowed by Canadian metropolises like Vancouver. And, a better understanding of the process of adaptation and the impact of multiculturalism, both of which are influenced by geographic location,” she said.

She interviewed 150 people, including Terrace’s own Mo Takhar and even visited the Terrace Lumber Company here in 2006.

She noticed the shrinking of the Punjabi community of the Skeena Region as the forest industry took a downturn, she said. Her interest in the topic began after moving from Montreal to the Lower Mainland for a post-doctoral fellowship, which involved a research project on the Vancouver Sikh community, where she noticed differences between Sikhs raised there and those from small B.C. towns.

When she began teaching in Surrey, which has a large Punjabi population, she could easily spot Punjabi students from small B.C. towns. “Subsequently, I wanted to investigate their greater sense of belonging to both the region and the country, as well as their greater awareness of the First Nations.”

After visiting the northwest in 2003, she wanted to do a research project in Prince Rupert and Terrace.

“It was disheartening to see people struggling because of the economic downturn, but even so I appreciated the friendly atmosphere of the region and the resilience of the people.”