South Asian Heritage Month

South Asian Heritage Month

South Asian Heritage Month

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South Asian Heritage Month is the name given to the month long celebration in Canada, each May, of the presence and heritage of people with roots in the South Asian countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

In Canada, 'South Asian' refers to those who have come directly from these countries to Canada (and their descendants) as well as those who have made second and even third migrations from more than 15 other countries, such as Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname, Jamaica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and others from the Caribbean from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa from Africa, from Europe, the Middle East, South America and Oceania.


The first South Asians first arrived in Canada in the year 1897, when soldiers from the Indian army passed through the country on their way back home from London, England after attending the Diamond Jubilee of the reign of Queen Victoria. Some of these Indian soldiers later returned to live in Canada permanently. The first known Caribbean based South Asian was Dr Kenneth Mahabir, a Trinidadian medical student who came to Halifax in 1908 and stayed on.

It was not until the 1980s that events marking the coming of South Asians to Canada appeared. They were pioneered by Indo-Caribbeans, descendants of the Indians who had first arrived in the West in Guyana in 1838 and in Trinidad in 1845, and who had made a second migration to Canada in large numbers since the 1960s.

In 1986 a Toronto based group Ontario...
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