Intergroup Relations and Ethnic Commitment

From: The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples/Gujaratis/Rasesh Thakkar

Gujarati involvement in Canadian public life is generally confined to a few areas such as business and the economy, education, and some social causes. Gujarati Canadians are active in chambers of trade and commerce as well as the Rotary Club and the Lions Club, and they help to raise funds for charities such as the United Way and the Heart and Stroke foundation. They have also helped to establish academic programs in Jain studies and Indian studies (including a Gandhi Lectureship) in a number of universities. Gujarati Canadians have not been active in politics or public policy making. Very few have been candidates for public office, and none has been elected to political office or won a seat in parliament or a provincial legislature or even on a local school board.

Gujarati Canadians maintain fairly close links with India. Those who can afford to do so make frequent trips to their home towns and introduce their children to the life and culture of Gujarat. They maintain relations with their kin and caste groups and help promote their immigration to Canada. They also invest in Indian industries, buy real estate in India, and contribute to charities in their home towns. Some Gujaratis have built housing complexes in places like Baroda and Ahmedabad in Gujarat. Many Gujarati seniors, after obtaining Canadian citizenship, spend large parts of each year in India. Gujarati parents often arrange their children’s marriages or strongly encourage them to select their marriage partners in India, and wedding ceremonies are often performed in India even though both bride and bridegroom live in Canada. Gujarati Canadians display a strong desire not to lose their connections to the life and society of their homeland. This feeling is most intense, understandably, among those who came to Canada directly from India, rather than from East Africa.