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.”

Just Posted

Freezing temperatures expected in Lower Mainland

Snowfall warning ends, but surge or icy air to continue

Proponent of controversial quarry looking to get out

Sumas Mountain mine has triggered widespread opposition

NDP statements may impact farmland-for-industry decision, Abbotsford mayor says

City has asked for removal of farmland from Agricultural Land Reserve to spur industrial growth

Ammonia concern prompted closure of Abbotsford ice rink

Ice arena at Matsqui Recreation Centre has been shuttered for more than a week

Canucks came out hot, beat Bruins 6-1

Loui Eriksson scores twice, catapulting Vancouver to a lopsided victory over Boston

Man who stole millions from Seabird Island band sentenced to 4.5 years jail

Stephen MacKinnon sentenced in Chilliwack court for stealing $2.3 million over eight years

B.C. man brings dog to court as ‘best witness’

Man is defending himself on charges of uttering threats, possessing weapon for dangerous purposes

Ball hockey fundraiser to honour Langley man lost to cancer

Annual tournament at UBC aims to raise $45,000 this year

Vancouver artist’s cartoon of Florida school shooting resonates

Cartoon shows football coach, one of the victims, meeting others killed in school shootings

Trudeau family arrives in India for state visit

Seven-day visit includes meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Military seeks DNA experts to help ID missing war dead

Federal program recovers, identifies and arranges burials for Canada’s nearly 28,000 missing war dead

B.C. files new legal action against TransMountain pipeline

Province tries to uphold City of Burnaby bylaws, provoking Alberta

Most Read