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December 2001

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SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE


The First in Canada:

 

South Asian Heritage Act 2001 in Ontario

One Step Away From Becoming Law

 

Fourth from Left (standing) Mr Raminder Gill MPP with Ms Neelam Verma, featured as

South Asian  FACE in October issue of the South Asian Outlook e-Monthly

 

South Asian immigrants began arriving in Ontario at the start of the 20th century. Working primarily in the sawmill industry, they settled in various parts of the province. For South Asians, the month of May has been a time of celebration and commemoration of their arrival from the Indian subcontinent to the Americas beginning on May 5, 1838.

 

While most South Asians came to our country from India, many others came to Ontario from such places as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Mauritius, Fiji, the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.

 

Today, over 700,000 people of South Asian descent make up a significant proportion of Ontario’s population. Like all Ontarians, South Asians are proud of their history, culture and contributions to the progress of our province in all facets of business, arts and culture, literature, sports, and community service. 

 

On November 22, Members of the Ontario Legislature approved 2nd reading of MPP Raminder Gill’s Private Member’s Bill, the South Asian Heritage Act, 2001. “This Act, the first in Canada, is one step away from becoming law in Ontario, and one step away from proclaiming May ‘South Asian Heritage Month’ and May 5th as ‘South Asian Arrival Day,’ said Gill.

 

The South Asian Heritage Act, 2001 will officially recognize South Asians, and lay the foundations upon which South Asian children and adults from nations such as India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Mauritius, Fiji, the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana can see themselves reflected in the fabric of our province.

 

“I would like to thank all Members of the Ontario Legislature for their support of my Bill, especially Premier Mike Harris and members of the Ontario PC Caucus, who are very committed to seeing it become law before the end of the calendar year,” said Gill.

 

Once the Bill is passed and receives Royal Assent (by the Lt Governor General of Ontario, Ms Hilary Weston): 1. May 5 in each year will be proclaimed as South Asian Arrival Day. 2. The month of May in each year will be proclaimed as South Asian Heritage Month.

 

It is appropriate to recognize and pay tribute to the contributions South Asian immigrants have made, and continue to make, to the development and general welfare of Ontario.