Harnam Kaur

Harnam Kaur was one of the first Punjabi Sikh women to immigrate to BC, Canada in the early 1900s. Her legacy is one that paved the way for the diaspora as a whole, but particularly for women. In collaboration with SACHA (South Asian Canadian Heritage Association), this graphic histories project is meant to highlight significant but lesser known aspects of Canadian Sikh heritage. The graphic can be viewed here

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Recreation of Harnam Kaur's obituary image (oils and acrylics on art board 9.5" x 12", Surinder Kaur Dhami family collection)
 

Motherhood 2018 (acrylics on card 9.5" x 12"). Harnam Kaur played many roles in her young life, embodying both softness and tremendous grit. She mothered two children, one son and one daughter. With very little information available on Harnam Kaur, we can only imagine the details of her everyday life. She is seen enjoying the simple delights of a cup of tea and jalebis while tending to her baby. At the same time, her hair is pending a comb-through as her braid unravels; putting her son to sleep is her priority.
 

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Sisterhood 2018 (acrylics on card 9.5" x 12"). The legacy umbrella brings together women of all walks of life, being nourished from the past, ready to sow seeds for the future. Harnam Kaur is present with both ambiguity and recognizable traits, as she bears a feature-less face and wears her signature salwar kameez and blazer. Community strength is one of the most valuable aspects to societal growth. It allows for a means to self-reflect and ameliorate, while being able to find endless inspiration and grit.

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Journey 2018 (acrylics on art board 9.5" x 12", private collection of Satwinder Gosal).

Harnam Kaur relishes her first home in the Indus tropics, whilst reflecting on the knowns and unknowns of her life-to-be in the Pacific Northwest. She is placed in the centre of the ocean, as a multi-dimensional and multi-temporal figure.
Harnam Kaur’s journey to Canada was tumultuous. She was to leave Peshawar (present-day Pakistan), where life had been familiar and vibrant. Canadian immigration officials were concerned that if Asian women were allowed in the country,  immigrant communities would settle and flourish rather than to continue their role as temporary labourers. Along her journey, Harnam Kaur had been detained for months and was even deported to Hong Kong before finally being allowed onto Vancouver's shores.

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Keystone 2018 (acrylics on card 9.5" x 12"). Harnam Kaur played an active role at the Gurdwara (“Sikh Temple”) at which her husband was secretary. She was known by the community as a strong figure-head and volunteer