South Asian Studies Institute

Research Students

Since its inception, the South Asian Studies Institute has been a vibrant space for all UFV students to be a part of. Our students have been involved with the SASI through their volunteering, research assistanships, work study positions, internships and practicums. Because of their immense hard work and efforts, many of our students have been involved in some innovative research projects, with some of them eventually earning them the annual Undergraduate Research Excellence (URE) award awarded by the Research and Graduate Studies Office.

Landon Kaetler

Position: Research Assistant

Year: January 2020

Landon is a Bachelor in Criminal Justice student at UFV. He collated information from local news sources to look for bias in the reporting connected to the lower mainland gang conflict. Landon also created interactive maps and other internal resources based on his research. He would like to pursue a law degree or master’s in Audiology.

Raghav Modgil‌

Position: Research Assistant (Work Study)

Year: January 2020 - April  2020

Raghav is a student in the Bachelor's in Media Arts (BMA) with a focus on Concept Art. He designed the 2018/2019 SASI biennial report. Raghav's goal is to work in the entertainment industry as a concept artist, designer and illustrator(movies, video games).

Kajal Shah

Position: Research Assistant (Work Study)

Year: January 2020 till April 2020.

Kajal is pursuing her Graphic design diploma at UFV. She designed a number of posters for SASI programming including the 'Haq and History' exhibit opening, Ehsaas film festival, etc. Kajal also assited with data collection based on social media archival sites. After completing her studies she hopes to study at Emily Carr University and eventually become a freelance graphic designer.


Shan Dhaliwal

‌Position: Research Assistant

Year: January 2019

Shan is a BBA student majoring in marketing at UFV. He worked on marketing and helping design the Sikh Heritage Museum’s “We Are Hockey” exhibit. He also worked on digital content creation for all social media platforms and the Sikh Heritage website

Kabir Mann

‌Position: Research Assistant

Year: January 2019

Kabir, a BCIS student worked on the maintenance and development of the new SASI website. In addition, Kabir worked on subtitling for the Punjabi Canadian Legacy Project Phase II interviews.

Harshal Patel

‌Position: Research Assistant

Year: January 2019

Harshal, a BCIS student designed and developed the "We Are Hockey" section of the SASI research and project-based website: He also worked on the redesigning, development and maintenance of the new SASI website and the Canadian Sikh Heritage website.

Himalya Sharma

‌Position: Research Assistant

Year: September 2018

Himalya, a student pursuing his BCIS degree, transcribed, analyzed and translated interviews of the earliest Sikh settler people settled in Canada based on the Punjabi Canadian Legacy Project Phase II. In addition to this, he helped with the maintenance of the SASI website and took part in helping organize events at SASI.


‌Position: Research Assistant

Year: September 2018

Ravinder is enrolled in Bachelor of Computer Information Systems at UFV. She worked on the Video Editing based on the SASI and RBCM Partnership, “Punjabi Canadian Legacy Project” where she translated the audio and added subtitles to the videos.

Prabhjot Singh

‌Position: Research Assistant

Year: January 2018

Prabhjot worked on research for the SASI curated exhibit Desis in the Diaspora launched in Spring 2018. Prabhjot researched South Asian artists and assisted in the design and promotions of the exhibit and also spent some time assessing microfilm newspaper articles from the Abbotsford Post.

Sharon Sharma

‌Position: Research Assistant

Year: Fall 2017-July 2018

Sharon, a BCIS student worked on the redesigning, development and maintenance of the new SASI website and the new Canadian Sikh Heritage website. In addition, Sharon transcribed interviews and subsequent narrations.

ArshSekhon250x250Arshdeep Singh Sekhon

Position: Research Assistant

Year: Fall 2017

Arsh, a BCIS student worked on the redesigning, developement and maintenance of the new SASI website and the new Canadian Sikh Heritage website. He also designed graphics and posters for SASI. 

Amitaj Bhinder

Position: Research Assistant 

Year: Summer, 2017

Amitaj, worked on the various project. One of the main project was re-designing of B.C Regional Chair and South Asian studies Institute website. He also assisted on South Asian Canadian Digital Archive project.

200x250Virendra Kumar

Position: Research Assisatant

Year: Winter and Summer, 2017

Viren, a post graduate DAC student worked on the redesigning of the new SASI website, redesigning the Canada-India Research chair page and editing the Canadian Sikh website. He also worked on the South Asian Canadian Digital Archive Website.


Position: Research Assistant 

Year: Summer 2016, Winter 2017, Fall 2017

Samar worked on a number of tasks including: English to Punjabi translation work for an upcoming Sikh Heritage Museum exhibit; preparing outlines for the execution of education kits and data management. According to Samar, his experience at the CICS has been an amazing learning experience which has taught him South Asian history in Canada.

Bhawandeep Kahlon

Position: Research Assistant

Year: January and February 2017

Translation of the Guest comments book ( Punjabi comments only )

Bhavan worked on translation of 180-200 punjabi comments to English. All the comments were typed in punjabi and saved in an excel sheet along with the visitors names, ethnicity, place and dates. She used Shabadkosh to search meanings of few punjabi words and I also referred​ a punjabi dictionary to use as correct words as possible for translating the comments.

We found really good results by knowing the thoughts and concerns of people about the heritage Gurudwara and its history from their comments written in that book

Yuvraj Singh

Position:Research Assistant

Year: May 2016  to  April 2017

Yuvraj worked on Legacy Project with the Royal BC Museum focusing on the struggles and evolution of the South Asian Community in Canada since the early 1900.

Reluctant Rebellions by Shauna Singh Baldwin – a non – fiction book published by the Centre of Indo-Canadian Studies now South Asian Studies Institute. Main involvement - Book sale logistics, promotional video designing, Marketing and Social Media.

Census report for the South Asian population in Canada and the increasing trend of the population from 1900’s to 2016. 

Olivia Ternent

Position: Work Study (CICS Book Project)

Year: Winter 2016

Olivia, a graduate of the Library and Information Technology diploma program, and current Continuing Studies student (Records Management and Library and Information Technology) worked as a researcher for the forthcoming CICS-published book on the history of Sikh immigration to Canada over the past 100 years. 

The research primarily involved distilling meta-narrative themes from interviews given by members of the local Sikh community regarding their personal and family experiences as immigrants to Canada.  Chief among the meta-narrative themes were the origins and journeys of the pioneers, their struggles and triumphs, applications of legal process, and community relations both within the immigrant community itself, and within the larger fabric of Canadian society.  Researching and distilling these themes was an enriching experience according to Olivia, as this is a chapter of Canadian history which is largely dismissed by most historians, who prefer a “white-washed” version of events.

Rishma Johal

Position: Research Assistant

Year: Winter 2015

Rishma Johal, a 2014 SFU MA Graduate and currently a Visual Arts student at UFV, engaged in an extensive research project and literature review titled: A Space for Female Agency: Giddha Dancers in the Diaspora. This study will adopt a South Asian Canadian feminist lens to examine perceptions of giddha as a strictly female dance form among Punjabi-Canadian women in the diaspora and their opinions about culture and female agency through its performance. This paper will adopt a qualitative feminist methodological framework to examine women’s written or spoken words and observable experiences. Qualitative feminist methodology recognizes women’s experiences as fundamental to develop an understanding of women’s lives. In this study, qualitatative feminist methodology gives women’s voices precedence through in-depth interviews and focus groups. Feminists embrace subjectivity and the adoption of this framework provides a space for women’s voices to be heard on their terms as subjects.

‌Emily Seitz

Position: Research Assistant

Year: Fall 2015

Emily, a fourth year Honours student in the Department of English worked on the extensive editing of a book manuscript that the CICS will be publishing in the coming year. Emily worked with the author of the ficitonal novel over a 12 week period to provide assistance with content adjustment, grammar and sentence structure.

Zaki Al-Dhamari

Position: Research Assistant

Year: Fall 2015

Zaki, a fourth year CIS student at UFV worked on a number of data collation projects for the CICS. He first collected, thematized and graphed the data results of the CICS 'Post Cards from the Margin' research project. These were collected anecdotes from across all UFV campuses that reflected on issues of race amongst students, staff, faculty and admin. Zaki also collected, thematized, and graphed the findings of the CICS 2014 'Tour and Try' project which worked with the Sikh Heritage Museum to assess the impact of experiential learning (through a museum) amongst middle and high school students.

Alisha Soni

Position: Research Assistant

Year: Winter 2015

Alisha, a Bachelor of Science Major at UFV has played a pivotal role in the Race and Anti-Racism ( Postcards from the Margin campaign that looked at the occurrences of race-related incidents or experiences on campus. Alisha designed and disseminated the postcards and also collated all the data. The data produced will be used proactively to look for solutions on campus and will also be published by the CICS. The impetus for this campaign is to raise awareness about racial discrimination and provide a confidential, anonymous avenue for these stories/opinions/experiences to be heard and shared. RAN’s goal is to understand incidents of discrimination based on race that occur on campus with an objective to have these issues emerge in the postcards. These postcards are being conceived as a form of record for the often silenced/silent issues of racial discrimination on UFV’s campuses.

‌Anecia Gill

Position: Research Assistant

Year: Winter 2015

Anecia, a Sociology Major at UFV has been working on creating the Komagata Maru Play Study Guide based on the CICS commissioned play that was performed on November, 2014. Anecia’s project is interdisciplinary in nature as she works with archival materials and ephemera, historical data, personal narratives, the script of a play, a video of the actual play to develop an interactive study guide for grade 8 students. The project will provide a useful and user-friendly (age appropriate) study guide about an important topic in Canadian history that has been omitted or barely studied in Social Studies in BC. The study guide is made up of four lesson plans/units that include in them accurately placed/culturally appropriate historical data, student led exercises, video-graphed vignettes from the play that speak to historical moments/law/discrimination and cultural bias, foundational text, ephemera, photographs, teacher’s notes, websites and resources. Anecia has produced a document that we will be approaching the Ministry of Education with for introduction into the school curriculum. Anecia also presented her work at the UFV Wide Professional Development Day on April 27, 2015.

Anish Bahri

Position: Communications Practicum Student

Year: Winter 2015

Anish is in his final year of studies in the Department of Communications at UFV and completed his final practicum at the CICS. During his four month practicum, Anish assisted with two events: the launch of the Sikh Heritage Museum’s seventh exhibition, Canadian Sikhs in WWI: The Forgotten Story and the Ehsaas South Asian Readers and Writers Festival featuring Shauna Singh Baldwin.

Sukhi Brar

Position: Research Assistant (RBCM Early Sikh Migrant Mill Workers Project)

Year: Winter 2015

Sukhi is a student in the Bachelor of Kinesiology program (Exercise Science major, Extended Psychology minor) at UFV and also a member on the UFV Board of Governors. Sukhi also worked on the Sikh Ethnic Food History Project: A Join Project by Royal British Columbia Museum (RBCM) and the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies (CICS) . The work involved interviewing, transcribing and narrating the stories of South Asian men who worked in the mill and wood working industry in the early, mid, and later 20th century, BC. The RBCM will then be taking the research collated to produce a future exhibition. Sukhi presented her work and experience of interviewing South Asian millworkers at this year’s student micro-lecture series hosted by UFV’s Research, Engagement, and Graduate Studies Department: for more details visit ufv blog.

Meena Bolla

Position: Practicum (School of Social Work and Human Services) and Research Assistant (RBCM Early Sikh Migrant Mill Workers Project)

Year: Winter 2014 and Winter 2015

When I first began, my major task was to assist with the launch of the exhibition “Challenge and Denial: Komagata Maru 100 Years Later” and to create a touring program. For the first 150 hours, I worked at the centre and did a variety of things for the exhibition. I created a brochure, promotional video and panels for the site at the Gur Sikh Temple. We started a Tour and Try program for students to explore the exhibition as a field trip and I worked on everything from creating student booklets to coming up with creative activities. I was given the freedom to construct the Komagata Tour however I liked for students ranging from grades 1-10 and I seized the opportunity to get as creative as I could. I created a passport activity for students and many trivia questions in their booklet to challenge them.

‌Faisal Alhumaidi

Position: Communications Practicum

Year: Fall 2014

Faisal was a practicum student in the Summer 2014 (from the Communications program) and assisted with our management of the Canadian Sikh Heritage website and helped upload the new pioneer stories to the website. Faisal also helped design posters and materials for CICS related events during the time of his practicum.

SuhailSuhail Shaikh

Position: Research Assistant

Year: Summer 2014

Suhail has been working on a number of projects for the CICS including beginning his work as a volunteer and helping with the 100 Year Pioneer Project and the online publishing of South Asian pioneers and their stories in the Fraser Valley. In addition, Suhail has also been helping to prepare the Canadian Sikhs in WWI exhibition which will be launched in January 2015.

Bharat 2014Bharat Nayyar

Position: Research Assistant

Year: Winter 2014 and Summer 2014

Bharat Nayyarv was 3rd year Business student at UFV. His major was Finance.

Lovepreet Vehniwal

Position: Internship

Year: Spring, 2013

Lovepreet Vehniwal has been working under the guidance and supervision of CICS Director, Satwinder Kaur Bains. Lovepreet is an MSW student and will be defending his dissertation in the next month. His topic was on health related problems of senior Punjabi immigrants and other problems faced by them inside the house and outside in the society.

Karan VoharKaran Vohra

Position: Research Assistant

Year: Fall 2013

Karan Vohra helped us design our exhibit at the Sikh Heritage Museum commemorating the Komagata Maru story of 1914. He designed our text panels and images in the Fall of 2013.

John Park

Position: Practicum (Minor in Communication)

Year: Winter 2013

Worked for Centre of Indo Canadian Studies (CICS) about 80 hours during semester such as CICS's development, maintenance, and strengthening of linkages that lead to diverse experiences for students, faculty, and community.

Work Outcomes are use research skills as well as design skills, transferring knowledge in information technology & media, and advertise CICS through Facebook and CICS blog.

Donna GomesDonna Gomes‌‌

Position: Research Assistant

Year: Summer 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014

Donna has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and English Literature and is currently enrolled as a Library and Information Technology student. She has worked for the Center for Indo-Canadian studies as a research student over the summer and fall of 2013 working with historical primary documents. During the summer she created subject and key word headings and abstracts for two hundred and fifty newspaper articles from 1906 to 1915 donated to the center by Dr. Norman Buchignani and designed an online database to make them widely accessible. The newspaper articles offer incredible insight into the many hurdles the first South Asian immigrants to B.C. faced and the discriminatory immigration laws that placed an embargo on further immigration. A historical events covered in the newspaper articles include the building of the first Sikh temple in B.C., the amendment to the voting act that disenfranchised South Asian immigrants, and the Komagata Maru incident. The database is now accessible through the CICS website and is available to students and the public for research purposes. During the fall she will be working with a collection of documents donated to the center that belonged to Dr. D. P. Pandia, an Indian lawyer who came to B.C. in the 1930s and 1940s. Dr. Pandia was instrumental in winning the fight to get the franchise reinstated for South Asian immigrants in Canada. He also assisted many South Asian immigrants to fight deportation proceedings and to successfully apply to bring their families to Canada. Over the fall semester she will be creating an index of the documents, subject and key word headings, abstracts, and creating an online database to make them widely available for research. "Working for the Center for Indo-Canadian Studies has been an amazing experience. The environment is welcoming and stimulating. Everyone is passionate about their work and the research projects I've worked on have been fascinating and both professionally and personally rewarding."

Ankita GargAnkita Garg

Position: Work Study

Year: Fall 2013

I am a fourth year Business student at UFV with marketing majors. I just took transfer from Chandigarh to the Canadian campus. My main reason of coming and studying overseas is to explore and grab as many opportunities as I can. I have always aspired working under Ms. Satwinder Bains and being a part of CICS as it would give me great working experience. I hope to learn and help the organization with full determination and best of my efforts.

Divya SharmaDivya Sharma

Position: Work Study

Year: Fall 2013

I am a student from the Chandigarh campus of this university and I have completed my three years of education in Chandigarh and this year I took a transfer to the Canadian campus. Now, here I am in Canada trying to start a new life far away from home. I am a very cheerful person I like to meet new people make new friends.

Parveer Ghuman

Position: Intern

Year: Summer 2013

Parveer Ghuman, a student visiting from Panjab University had been engaged in a research internship under the supervision of CICS Director, Satwinder Kaur Bains. Parveer was a law student from Panjab Univeristy. Parveer wokred on the project named "Canadian government Justice and community response to Domestic Violence aganiast Women in realtionships policy in British Columbia; Recommendation for improving the policy and framework in india. The report focused on the British Columbia Violence against Women policy 2010.

Stacy Thoreson

Position: Intern

Year: Fall 2013

In Fall 2012 I went to Chandigarh, India as an intern on a scholarship funded through CIDA and AUCC, organized by the Global Development Studies program and the Centre for Indo Canadian Studies. I worked with a local NGO in a settlement just outside of the city and at a local school for underprivileged children. Our goal was to provide education to the families in the settlement and the children at the school about gardening, healthy food and nutrition. In the settlement we implemented a roof top gardening project which provided supplies and education to families in need in order to grow their own vegetables. Our project helped to develop community involvement and to create an awareness about how easy and cost effective it is to grow your own food. At the school we planted class gardens and were able to work hands on with the kids outside which was really a lot of fun.

Overall my time in India was the best practical and educational experience I could have hoped for, along with the added benefits of a wonderful cultural experience. Even after being home for a few months I find I'm still learning about myself from the experiences I had in India. The relationships I've built through the success of the project have left me with a feeling of longing to go back. I love the people, the food, the clothes and the kindness that exudes from within each and every person I met.

AbdulAbdulelah Alyami

Position: Practicum for his minor in communication

Year: Fall 2012

He spent about 80 hours to make the centre more popular in the community by: Introducing the centre to the social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flicker, Google+, etc), helping make a short video about the centre, and helping update the centre’s website. He has had a very good experience and had fun working with everyone at the centre.

Deepi Dolla

Position: CICS Special Events Assistant, Volunteer

Year: September 2010-2012

Over the past few years I have worked and volunteered with CICS to help plan and set up several different events including: Virasat Pioneer Gala and Conference, Diwali and Holi celebrations, International Women's Day and Chai Times, amongst many others. My experience with the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies has always been a memorable and enjoyable one. I have had the opportunity to meet many different people and learn so much in the process.

R‌asleen Uppal

Position: Work-Study Research Assistant

Year: Winter 2013

As a research assistant she worked on several projects. Some of them included researching and creating a database of different Canadian businesses who are working with India , editing a bibliography, gathering and editing information on the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies website, and organizing articles related to the Komagata Maru. The part which she really enjoyed and learnt a lot from was the research portion as it taught her how to use different databases and what the future relationship between Canada and India’s businesses may look like.

Suman Lally

Position: Work-Study Research Assistant

Year: Winter 2013, Fall 2013

Suman started volunteering at the Centre for Indo- Canadian Studies while she was in high school. When she started attending UFV, she became a little more involved and was given the position of a research assistant this year. Her work consisted of going through the Punjabi pioneer interviews and comprising a narrative with pictures for each person. She found this task very interesting because of all the stories she heard and the information she learned about our history. Suman thinks it’s very neat to be a part of this process in preserving personal stories so people in the future can learn more about their history.

Priyesh Naik

Position: Student Research Assistant

Year: 2012

He has sorted, catalogued and labeled source documents and provided key words and phrase that will be used to create a keyword search for articles that are to be placed on the website. He says that the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies is a very welcoming place to work, everyone is willing to help and they are always ready to answer any questions you have. It has been an interesting experience for him to learn about how life was for the first immigrants in British Columbia.

Shea Wind

Position: Research Assistant

Year: 2012

As a Research Assistant for the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies he was responsible for transcribing and thoroughly proofreading approximately news articles from 1906-1915, that were published in Vancouver’s The Daily Province newspaper.  The articles cover a number of news stories that display numerous attempts of British Columbians to repel Indian migration and the efforts of many Indo-Canadians to settle here and attain the rights that should have been guaranteed to them as British subjects.  These primary sources were donated to the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies by Dr. Norman Buchignani, co-author of a “Continuous Journey: A Social History of South Asians in Canada.”  He also engaged in researching successful online cataloguing methods and developed a work plan for the following research assistant working on this project.

Tanvir Mavi

Position: Research assistant - Komagata Maru Project

Year: 2012

It was an amazing experience to work at the CICS, during this time I learned a lot about the history of Indians in Canada. What they had to go through, how they survived, and much more. I would love to work with CICS again.

Aman Dhami

Position: Research Assistant

Year: 2009 - 2011

I came to Canada in fall 2009 to continue by BBA studies from Chandigarh, India. I met Prof. Satwinder Bains on campus, who gave me the opportunity to work with CICS. I stared volunteering with CICS.  I made new friends and met with great people while organizing chai time, holi and other events at the CICS  through which I got the chance to attend the Mehfil Magazine  Gala in 2010, which was great experience. I got the opportunity to learn more about Canadian Sikhs by visiting the reach gallery museum.  Later I got a work study position at the CICS.  One day while working on Sikh pioneer interviews at the CICS, Prof. Bains offered me to work on a project for participating in Undergraduate Research in UFV. With Prof. Bains’s and Sharanjit’s guidance I was able to complete  my project “LIONS OF THE SEA”  A timeline of one hundred years of heritage  1911-2011  which  explores the challenges South Asians faced over their 100 year history in Canada as well as their contributions. I was also honoured to receive the Undergraduate Research Excellence Award for Indo‐Canadian Studies for the project at UFV.

“Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great.”  -Orison Swett Marden

This quote always encourages me every single time I read it. 2011 was the year when Gur Sikh temple, Abbotsford marks its 100th anniversary. CICS and Reach gallery organized Centennial conference at UFV.  I was lucky to meet great people from all over the world and learn about culture and religion.  Along with other students of SAPNA organizing conference and Prof. Rajnish guidance,  I got the opportunity to participated in  a play “Once upon a time in Kneda” which demonstrated the hard life of  Sikh pioneers in Canada.  While practicing the role of Sikh pioneer I learned how hard it was in old times to find work and settle in a new country without knowing the language.  Their hard work made so easy for future generation to settle in Canada. I was a great experience.

After graduating I got chance to work as research assistant at CICS. The first day I came to UFV everyone was stranger and in few months it became my second home.  Volunteering and working at CICS was great  gift. After learning about Sikh history in Canada and the experience I gained from the CICS I feel I grew up in the country  and was never actually from India.

Raji Heer

Position: Research assistant

Year: 2009

In September 2009, Raji travelled to Punjabi, India under the leadership of Ms Satwinder Bains to conduct research on the Canadian Diaspora in India.  The purpose of her research was to interview Canadian citizens who had moved to India and find out their reasons of return to their homeland. The experience was enlightening to say the least.  She experienced a new India from the previous three trips she has made.  Travelling alone throughout Panjab on locals buses was daunting at first, but it just made her more confident. She formed some great friendships at the University of Panjab.  She became more confident and was able to develop interviewing skills, as well as interpersonal communication skills, which was an important component for this study. Raji would encourage every student to take advantage of international internships, because it builds your confidence and self esteem.  You build more connections, helping you become more successful in the future.

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