BY RIZWAN ABBAS
THE Museum of Surrey is hosting a new Community Treasures Exhibit titled, “The Indo-Fijians: Surrey’s Pocket of Paradise.”
The exhibit is open until December 19 and discusses the history of the Indo-Fijian people, how and why they left India, life in Fiji under “girmit,” and how the “Girmityas,” (our ancestors) overcame these hardships to create a unique Indo-Fijian culture.
The exhibit discusses Indo-Fijian food, music, language, religion and informs the residents about local businesses and organizations which help further our culture in Canada.
There are also artifacts from Fiji, videos, a slide show, and beautiful jewellery from local Indo-Fijian artist Sheetal Naickar.
My father’s story is woven into the exhibit. He passed away of cancer in December 2020 but his story is similar to that of most other Indo-Fijian’s who left Fiji in search for a new home. I use his items in the exhibit to bring our culture to life.
While my dad was in the hospital, I had the opportunity to finally discuss with him what I have been doing as an archaeologist for the past 20 years. I realized I should be studying my own heritage and culture now…my father’s heritage and culture.
So I volunteered to make this exhibit. I will also be contributing a chapter to a book about the Social History of South Asians in BC being published by the University of the Fraser Valley – South Asian Studies Institute in early 2022. In the chapter I will be going into more detail about the history of our people and the emergence of the Indo-Fijian culture.
Visit “The Indo-Fijians: Surrey’s Pocket of Paradise” at the Museum of Surrey at 17710 56A Avenue in Surrey near the intersection of 177 Street and Highway 10 in Cloverdale. Current hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 12 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Due to the COVID-19 protocols, it is best to check the museum website at www.surrey.ca/museum for the most updated access information.