The UFV Centre for Indo Canadian Studies (CICS) celebrated a significant milestone this month. On May 3, the CICS celebrated 10 years.
“It was a time to enjoy and reflect. We were having a good time and enjoying it,” said CICS director Satwinder Bains. “It was our goal to thank our donors and supporters. We could have just let it go, but we’re always into having a good party.”
The centre works to encourage and support intercultural ties within the university and communities beyond. With a very interdisciplinary focus, it also brings together scholarly research with applied activities.
Over the last decade, the CICS has worked on numerous projects, focusing on the the diaspora of Indians and their culture, both historically and contemporarily. Within that context, the research reaches very broadly. That might include looking at issues of race and racism in the early 1900s, or how culture and opinions have changed since then. Recently, the centre conducted a study of racism on university campuses.
CICS Coordinator Sharanjit Sandhra said that the work they’ve done has build deep connections within the UFV community, and external communities.
Bains and Sandhra are also the caretakers of the Sikh Heritage Museum and the Abbotsford Sikh Temple National Historic Site of Canada.
At the event, Bains announced the centre’s name change to the South Asian Studies Institute.
“If you go back 10 years ago, the fundraising we did for the centre was really focused on India,” she said. “But as we do this work we realize that the region of India is very impactful in terms of its economic standing on the world stage, but at the same time there’s a larger region around it that, internationally, people are studying. As a research institute we wanted to connect ourselves to other institutes around the world and be in that same environment of ideas. We felt we had to move to a name that was broader than India.”
The centre’s work has increased in both output and the regions they study. Bains said that to better work in a fast-shifting academic world, they have to be relevant to South Asia as a whole.
“I feel we’ve come into a geographical and theoretical platform. It’s a better platform, we’ll be more attuned with what’s happening in the academic world with this type of work,” Bains said.
Looking at the future, the centre is planning to expand its capacity and work with other scholars at UFV. Right now, it’s only the two of them, but Sandhra and Bains hope to create opportunities to collaborate with other scholars within UFV and beyond.
“We’ve changed our name, and that was a beautiful unveiling,” said Sandhra. “We started off looking at the past, at what we’ve done, then ended it by looking forward. It has that sense of progression.”