January 13, 2024

Sikh Migration to Canada: A Century of Challenges, Resilience, and Transformation

Recent tensions between Canada and India, stemming from accusations of Indian involvement in the assassination of a prominent pro-Khalistan leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, have rekindled the spotlight on Canada's Sikh community. This community has a rich and enduring history that spans over a century.

The Sikh Community in Canada

According to the 2021 Canadian census, Sikhs constitute 2.1% of Canada's population, making it the world's largest Sikh community outside of India. The story of Sikh migration to Canada is one of tenacity, perseverance, and the pursuit of a better life.

Pioneering Years of Sikh Migration

Sikh migration to Canada has its origins in the late 19th century. In 1897, during Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, the first Sikh settlers arrived on Canadian soil. Among them was Kesur Singh, a Risaldar Major in the British India Army, who is often acknowledged as one of the early Sikh immigrants.

However, the significant wave of Sikh migration commenced in the early 1900s. These pioneers predominantly worked as laborers, contributing to the growth of British Columbia's logging industry and Ontario's emerging manufacturing sector. Many of them arrived with the intent of sojourning for a few years and remitting their earnings back to their families in India.

Challenges and Resilience

The early Sikh immigrants faced a plethora of challenges. They were met with hostility from locals who viewed them as competitors for jobs. Racial and cultural prejudices added to the complexities of their daily lives.

In response to growing anti-Asian sentiment in Canada, the government introduced stringent regulations. These regulations required Asian immigrants to possess a specified sum of money and to arrive via a continuous journey from their country of origin, aimed at discouraging immigration from Asian nations, including India.

One of the darkest chapters in Sikh migration history unfolded in 1914 - the Komagata Maru incident. A ship carrying 376 South Asian passengers, primarily Sikhs, was detained in Vancouver for two long months and then forcibly sent back to Asia. This tragic incident resulted in fatalities and starkly highlighted the racial prejudice and discrimination Sikhs faced at the time.

A Turning Point after World War II

The landscape of Sikh migration to Canada underwent a significant transformation after World War II. Several factors contributed to this shift. Canada's commitment to the United Nations' stance against racial discrimination, the nation's need for laborers to fuel post-war economic expansion, and a decline in European immigration all played pivotal roles.

The recognition of the importance of human capital prompted Canada to seek skilled labor from third-world countries, thus eliminating racial preferences in the immigration process. In 1967, Canada introduced a points system that emphasized skills as the primary criterion for admitting non-dependent relatives.

Community and Culture

Today, Canada stands as a testament to the success of inclusive immigration policies. The Sikh community has played a vital role in shaping the multicultural fabric of the nation. From cultural festivals to vibrant gurdwaras, Sikh influence is evident across Canada.


The history of Sikh migration to Canada is a testament to the tenacity and determination of immigrants seeking a better life. From the early struggles and challenges faced by the pioneering Sikh immigrants to the adoption of more inclusive and skill-based immigration policies, the journey of the Sikh community in Canada reflects the broader narrative of immigration and diversity in the nation.

Today, Canada stands as a shining example of success in inclusive immigration policies, with the Sikh community playing a central role in shaping the multicultural landscape of the country. The story of Sikh migration to Canada is one of hope, strength, and transformation, a source of inspiration for generations.

Exploring Your Path to Canada with Pelican Migration Consultants

If you're considering making Canada your new home or need guidance through the immigration process, Pelican Migration Consultants is here to help. As one of the top immigration consultants in Dubai, our team of experts is committed to providing personalized immigration solutions, ensuring that your dream of settling in Canada becomes a reality.

With a simple, step-by-step approach, we'll assist you in navigating the complex immigration procedures, making your transition to Canada as smooth as possible. Whether you're seeking to join loved ones, pursue education, or embark on a new career, we're here to simplify the process and guide you every step of the way.

Contact Pelican Migration Consultants today and take the first step towards your new life in Canada. Your Canadian dream is closer than you think.