Honouring Dr. Hari Sharma

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On March 17, the Founding Punjabi Literary Association organized a memorial to pay tribute to Dr. Sharma at the national heritage Canada Khalsa Diwan Society Gurdwara in Abbotsford. About 100 people attended this memorial. The member for Surrey–Green Timbers and myself had the honour to speak at the meeting.

Professor Sharma passed away on March 16, 2010, after a lengthy battle with cancer. As an academic and community leader, he led many organizations for social justice in Canada and abroad. Having engaged in many anti-racist struggles in the 1970s, he played a key role in the formation of the B.C. Organization to Fight Racism, which proved to be an extremely effective instrument against the tide of racism in B.C. at that time. He also played a very important role in starting the Canadian Farmworkers Union.

In 1989, Hari mobilized the South Asian community to form the Komagata Maru Historical Society to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident. His leadership also led to the development of SANSAD, the South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, in the quest for peace and democracy based on secularism, human rights and social justice. Besides being an excellent political organizer, my friend and mentor, Dr. Sharma was a gifted writer and a talented photographer.

I would like to thank Prof. Gurvinder Dhaliwal and his organization, the Founding Punjabi Literary Association, for organizing this meeting in Abbotsford.