For 150th celebrations, South Asian history group reflects on Canada's darker moments

For 150th celebrations, South Asian history group reflects on Canada's darker moments

A history group is looking back on some of Canada's darker moments as the country celebrates the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

The South Asian Canadian Histories Association will launch a series of events in the fall after receiving $15,000 from the Canada Heritage 150 Anniversary Fund.

Those events will look at issues and stories like residential schools, the Komagata Maru incident, Japanese internment, and the Chinese head tax through a South Asian lens.

Surrey poet laureate Renée Sarojini Saklikar says it's important to reflect on these moments.

"How do you talk about being a Canadian, and all the many, many wonderful things, and there are so many ... [but] there's a shadow side," she told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

"Those shadow histories, the nuance, the complexity, I think that's where real history lives and that's where we as Canadians hopefully sometimes, but not always, get the courage to get into those moments."

Saklikar has a personal connection to one of those dark Canadian moments: she lost her aunt and uncle on Air India Flight 182 in 1985.

"It took me a long time to write about it. I didn't want to write about it," she said. "I think Air India is one of those revolving, forgotten stories and in my poetry I talk about this impulse of forgetting, remembering. There's that tension."

At a Thursday preview, at UBC's Asian Centre, of events to be held in the fall, Saklikar recited some of her poetry about the Air India tragedy and how it has devastated so many lives, including hers.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

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