by Navneet Sidhu, Contributor
It all started with the proclamation by former Mayor George Peary.
On Jan. 10, 2011, the year was declared the Centennial Year of the National Heritage Historic Site Temple, to honour the contributions of Abbotsford’s Sikh pioneers in the development of the city.
Since then, each month a commemorative function has been organized by the partnering groups in furtherance of the centennial celebrations.
Some of the major highlights of the year were the National Historic Site Sikh Temple Exhibition that was organized by the Reach Gallery Museum in April.
This exhibit showcased historic pictures of the Sikh pioneers who came to Canada 100 years ago.
The exhibit was one of a kind, where visitors got to see pictures that told stories of the pioneers and their struggles.
The Centre for Indo Canadian Studies at UFV also organized a very successful Transnational Punjabis in the 21st Century Conference in May.
Scholars, researchers and artists from all over the globe presented their findings and views about various aspects of Punjabi culture and history. The conference shed light upon not only the issues this tradition is facing, but also upon the richness, roots and identity of this culture.
Then in August, the city was proud to welcome Prime Minister Stephen Harper to participate in the Centennial celebrations at the heritage temple, and to unveil the Centennial monument.
Recently in October, the Reach Gallery Museum also opened up a new exhibit called ‘Punjabi Visions’ which celebrates Punjabi art and culture. It includes paintings of local as well as international artists depicting rural Punjabi life, Maharajas of Punjab and portraits of Punjabi women.
The exhibit will go on until Jan. 8, 2012, and has never before been seen in Abbotsford.
The Centennial year will end Saturday, Dec. 17 with the official opening of the Sikh Heritage Museum at the National Historic Site Gur Sikh Temple.
Abbotsford once again will welcome another special guest, the Honourable Lieutenant Governor of BC Steven L. Point along with many other dignitaries. Every year there will be a new exhibit that will highlight various South Asian artifacts. Everyone is welcome to come and visit this exhibit that will certainly open up many doors for South Asian artifacts that are unknown to the community’s that host them.
The festivities of this year in Abbotsford have enriched our community with memories that will last for years and have also added on to the rich cultural diversity that Canada is known for.
Navneet Sidhu is the Coordinator at the Center for Indo-Canadian Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley (Navneet.firstname.lastname@example.org)