Indo-Canadian collection enriches online project

June 26, 2008

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By Terry Lavender

The SFU Library is home to a new collection of some 300 photographs and numerous taped interviews providing a glimpse into the lives of Indo-Canadian pioneers who came to B.C. from 1900 to 1950.

The collection was donated by Rajinder Kohaly, whose late husband Inderjit Kohaly started building it at age 72. Determined to contribute to Canada’s understanding of its past, he fought ill health and spent considerable sums of his own money travelling across B.C. to contact Indo-Canadian families.

Eric Swanick, head of special collections, says the Kohaly collection is a valuable addition to the library’s two other Indo-Canadian oral history collections – one created by Gurcharn Basran and B. Singh Bolaria and another by SFU professor emeritus Hari Sharma.

The Kohaly tapes have been digitized and will become available as mp3 files through the Internet as part of the Multicultural Canada Project.

Multicultural Canada, a multi-stakeholder project led by SFU, aims to preserve the history and heritage of Canada’s minority groups by collecting and digitizing multicultural collections of newspapers, magazines, audio tapes, photographs, local histories, speeches, letters and oral histories from a variety of sources.

The first of the collections and educational materials became available online this month at, at no cost to users. Interactive educational tools and resources are available in French and English.
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