The Need

"A great Canadian educational resource to enhance inclusive education and student engagement and to share unique historical perspectives"
Pardeep S. Nagra
Manager, Employment Equity Office, Toronto District School Board

“David Gray’s research into the immigrant Sikh community is a remarkable example of historical recovery. By choosing to document his findings in film, he makes a forgotten past accessible to all. His work deserves a place in courses on ethnic or public history or any course that seeks to demonstrate the richness of Canadian multiculturalism.”
Peter E. Rider
Adjunct Professor, History Department, University of Ottawa

Teaching history through film

Dis-Immigration is an important contribution to Canada’s immigration history. The film addresses the needs of schools, colleges and universities by telling an unknown piece of Canadian history through a modern media approach. Through this film the issues of immigration can be made personal and real by relating one group’s interesting immigration story.

The realities of the immigrant life arouse interest and bring insight to many related issues, for example, discrimination, multiculturalism, ethics, political and cultural development, government legislation, citizenship, and a pluralistic society. Dis-Immigration is a good springboard for studies and discussion on any of these topics and more.

The documentary film will have rich value for a wide audience: high school and university classes, the cultural communities affected, and the broader general Canadian public through television, film festivals, and DVD distribution.

The specific need

Young Canadians are generally aware of the role the Chinese immigrant labourers played in the building of the railway across Canada. The story of the East Indian immigrants who were denied access to Canada in the Komagata Maru incident of 1914, is less well-known. However, the story of early Sikh and other Indian immigration and employment has not been told and is not known to most Canadians.

Canadians are also generally unaware of the impact of the immigration restrictions imposed by the federal and provincial governments on the early East Indian immigrants. Also generally unknown are the kinds of contributions these early immigrants made to the economic development of Canada including the railway and the lumber industry.

The scope

This project has a national scope, though this story is based on immigration to British Columbia. The immigration restrictions not only had an impact on eastern Canada at the time, by limiting immigrant movement across the country, but also has a significant impact in eastern Canada today in view of the high populations of immigrants from India who now live in Ontario.The search for information for the film was in itself a national project in scope with research done in Ottawa and Toronto as well as British Columbia. The impact of this immigration story is important to all Canadians, regardless of where they live because it lends understanding of the cultural and political development of our nation.

The audience

Any student will benefit from this film that gives history a personal face and a relevant focus. The primary or target audience for the film is the young people of Canada, those of Sikh descent and others, who are approaching adult life and need to have a better understanding of Canadian immigrant history and culture from an historical perspective. Thus, an important intended audience for Dis-Immigration is the educational sector.

The Sikh Temple in Hong Kong (David Gray collection)


Dis-Immigration: Stemming the Flow from India
is being shown at the Victoria Film Festival
Tuesday February 5, 2013
Empire Theatre, 805 Yates Street
9:45 pm

Tickets ($10.00) available at: