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Buchignani, Norman; Doreen M. Indra with Ram Srivastiva.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1985. 250pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-7710-1761-8. (A History of Canada's Peoples). CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by K. Phyllis James

Volume 14 Number 1
1986 January

Part of a series on the life styles, culture, and contributions of immigrants to Canada other than northern Europeans, this social history of South Asians is topical and necessary. The three authors have assembled together years of researched work. Each chapter ends with copious references, and eighteen statistical tables are set out throughout the book for easy access. The bibliography following shows the extent of research, while the excerpts from letters and interviews with Asian immigrants included help to lighten the weight of compact information and statistics.

At the beginning of the eighty years of South Asian immigration, we learn of the first confused few arriving soon after 1900 to a hostile west coast of Canada. Sikhs, the majority, were adventurous, ready to take risks, but of necessity aggressive. As a result, one can understand the movement behind the Ghadar Party, an early Indian revolutionary group. Despite difficulties in obtaining jobs and a place to live, coupled with the long wait for families to arrive to join the first immigrants, the years between 1918 and 1947 were considered the "quiet years." When enfranchisement was won in 1947, professionals made their contributions to the country. After World War II until the present, immigration increased, but discrimination continued and violence often broke out, especially in Vancouver and Toronto. The book tells why the turmoil took place. After reading this brief history of the South Asians one is left with a better understanding and empathy. Parts of the work are repetitive, but the message is strong. Now with the South Asian population over 300,000 and with the second generation maturing, these immigrants might find more harmony as Canadians learn to abandon their destructive stereotyping. Recommended for high school reading.

K. Phyllis James, Qualicum Beach, B.C.
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