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Being Punjabi: Unfolding the Surrey Story

Discover the stories of the Punjabi community at the museum's first community curated exhibition.

The exhibition is a tribute to Punjabi community members who came forward to share their story, inviting us to celebrate Surrey’s diversity and to challenge assumptions we make about each other.

The first Punjabis came to Canada in 1897. Today Surrey is home to over 100,000 Punjabis. This exhibit presents a selection of local Punjabi voices using written word, audio recordings, video, artifacts, art and images. Being Punjabi is the first exhibition in Canada to highlight Surrey’s Punjabi community, showcasing stories of both struggle and success. It is meant to begin a conversation.

Sixteen local Punjabis have shared their stories and donated artifacts to illustrate them. Expect to read about Anita Lal, Fauzia Rafique, Charan Gill and Naveen Girn just to name a few. All text in the exhibit has been translated to Punjabi. Artifact highlights include a brick from the Komagata Maru and cooking tools lent by Vikram Vij.

The exhibit will include four interactive elements where visitors are encouraged to contribute their own stories to the exhibit. The hashtag #MyPunjabiStory will make the continually growing exhibit accessible to anyone who wishes to share their experience.

Defining the Term Punjabi

The exhibition defines Punjabi as anyone whose family of origin is from the Punjabi regions of India and Pakistan.

Why the Punjabi Community?

Museum of Surrey will host one community curated exhibit each year. 41% of Surrey’s recent immigrants come from South Asia. In fact, Punjabi is the second most spoken language in Surrey. As such, Punjabi was selected as the first community-led feature exhibition at Museum of Surrey.

The Exhibit Process

An advisory committee was formed by eight members of Surrey’s Punjabi community. They met with museum staff to guide the theme, subject matter and content of the exhibit. A public community engagement session was also held in each city centre. Media coverage and communication with community organizations also helped make connections.

Exhibit Spotlight

Celebrate the new exhibit at the family-friendly grand opening event on October 5 from 1-4pm at Museum of Surrey.

Museum After Dark

Be among the first to see the exhibit at this 19+ event. Watch Bhangra, be decorated in henna and snack on Punjabi appetizers. Also experience a curator's tour of the feature exhibit, as well as a behind the scenes tour of our vault. Get your ticket.