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

Editor’s view: A Hopeful start to the community’s first 10 km run

Good mix of pomp and circumstance, variable terrain and silliness at Sunday’s run

Lower Mainland could see spring flurries

Snow expected at higher elevations

Auditors couldn’t tell if Fraser Health executives bought booze on taxpayers’ dime

Review from 2014 says one administrator bought Bose headphones on company credit card

Experts detect risk of rock avalanche above Bridal Falls near Chilliwack

Risk in the one-in-10,000-year is minimal but triggers FVRD to direct growth elsewhere

VIDEO: Olympic medalist teaches swimming in Hope

Brent Hayden fondly remembers local swim meet from his youth

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

Two killed, dozen hurt in French supermarket hostage-taking

French counterterrorism prosecutors are taking charge of the investigation into the shooting of a police officer in southern France

Canadian women move to No. 4 in FIFA world rankings

Canadian women match all-time high, move back to No. 4 in FIFA world rankings

Supreme Court rules former Stephen Harper aide guilty of influence peddling

A one-time senior aide to former prime minister Stephen Harper has been found guilty of influence peddling by Canada’s highest court.

Annual inflation rate rises to 2.2% for its fastest pace since fall 2014

Statistics Canada says the consumer price index in February was up 2.2 per cent compared with a year ago

B.C. drug smuggler pleads guilty in U.S. court

Shuswap man admits to using helicopters to transport marijuana and cocaine across the border

Canucks find scoring touch in 5-2 win over Blackhawks

Four Vancouver skaters have two points apiece in victory over Chicago

‘Not well thought out:’ Arizona family slams B.C. speculation tax

American family spends half the year in vacation home on Vancouver Island

Most Read