Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point was in Abbotsford on Saturday to officially open the Sikh Heritage Museum, the first of its kind in Canada, at the historic Gur Sikh Gurdwara on South Fraser Way.
"There are no other museums (on Sikh history) in the country. There are exhibits but not a museum in itself that caters to Sikh heritage," said Navneet Sidhu, a project coodinator with the University of the Fraser Valley.
The museum will feature photos and artifacts donated by local Indo-Canadian families, including a few who had uncles and grandfathers settle here almost a century ago. The project has been two years in development and is supported by federal government funds, through Canadian Heritage.
The temple, or gurdwara, was declared a national historic site by former Prime Minister Jean ChrŽtien and former Heritage Minister Sheila Copps in the summer of 2002.
Built in 1911 by immigrant Sikhs who laboured at the nearby sawmill at what is now called Mill Lake, the unique wooden temple was the site of a three-day centennial party this summer.
"It's a big deal to local Sikhs because something like this hasn't happened before. Future generations will cherish the museum," said Sidhu.
The year of centennial celebration began in January with a proclamation by Abbotsford Mayor George Peary that recognized the historic and cultural significance of the site and the contribution of Indian Sikh pioneers and immigrants in the development of the city.
Partnering groups have held a commemorative function each month through the year. For example, The Reach Museum and Gallery currently has a display on Sikh history.
Saturday's opening of the Sikh Heritage Museum will close the year of centenary celebrations.
The Gur Sikh Gurdwara is at 33094 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford.
You can see more at www.canadiansikhheritage.ca.