Exhibition Opening & Komagata Maru Commemoration

Rajinder Gill attends the launch and poses in front of her wedding photo in 1973.

The SASI launched a new exhibition at the Sikh Heritage Museum on July 25th, 2023: Marriages & Migration: A Transnational Story of BC. Evocative photos from the Del Monte collection allowed us to tell the history of transnational marriages in Abbotsford’s Panjabi Sikh community.

The photographs in the exhibition present a glimpse into Panjabi Sikh wedding arrangements and ceremonies from the 1960s to the 1990s and how these unions were a way to facilitate immigration to Canada and reunite families.

The event also included the unveiling of 3 commemorative signs as well as the renaming of a section of South Fraser Way (from Bourquin Crescent to Ware Street) to Komagata Maru Way. The City of Abbotsford worked with the Khalsa Diwan Society and the South Asian Studies Institute (UFV) to honour the memory and efforts of the Komagata Maru passengers to challenge injustice as well as celebrate the Abbotsford South Asian community’s efforts to aid their countrymen.

(L to R) MLA Mike de Jong, Raj Singh Toor, Mayor Ross Siemens, and Khalsa Diwan Society President Maninder Singh Gill posing with the newly renamed street sign.

The opening was attended by Mayor and Council, families featured in the exhibition, and many community members who came and listened to people talk about how historic of a moment it was to have the Komagata Maru passengers honoured in such a significant way:

I was so privileged to attend yesterday’s historical gathering.  What a gift of cultural and historical sharing took place with such good people so involved in the events being acknowledged.  Once again SASI staff have gone above and beyond the work of doing the job; to bring alive the research for our community so we can have this presence for generations yet to come.  Thank you for including me in the invitation to attend.  I was able to bring with me a new PR to Canada, Yogita Pallan, and her father-in-law who is on a visit from India.  Yogita was especially touched by the words she heard about the Komagata Maru impact upon so many people.  This is a part of our Canadian story that our citizens need to be aware of.  We cannot let such incidents happen again, but they could happen if we do not know the story. I look forward to further gatherings and events under the guidance of SASI,” Art Turnbull, Pastor and Interfaith collaborator.

The exhibition is open until July 2024. You can also visit the permanent Komagata Maru signs at the Sikh Heritage Museum. Please drop by for a visit!


To see more photos from the opening, visit our Flickr page.