The Right to Vote

(From left) Kartar Singh, Kapoor Singh, Dr. Pandia and Mayo Singh

"The government took our vote away in 1907. We got the Dominion vote in 1946 but you couldn't vote in the Dominion unless you had the provincial vote so we couldn't exercise the right to vote federally because in B.C. we didn't have the right to vote provincially. Then everyone realized that you can't exercise the provincial franchise unless you can vote municipally, which is why the community put its effort towards getting the municipal vote."

"The mayor of Victoria agreed to present the motion but there was a fear that unless members of the community made their presence felt at the municipalities conference, the motion to give us the vote would die on the table. A lot of people went to keep the pressure on. On the last day of the conference the municipal leaders - who had been well-fed the night before in a hospitality suite - agreed the vote should go to the 'Hindus'.

"The beauty of this picture is that Mayo Singh and Kartar Singh were partners at one time in a mill in Paldi. When their relatives came to Canada, the two sides began to quarrel. Mayo and Kartar parted and spent considerable time in court against each other. But when it came to the vote, they sunk their differences and united for a common cause. When it came to the good of the community, they buried their differences and worked as one."

Dr. Manmohan Wirk, who provided the above account, wrote a book that traces the history of Victoria's Sikh community. A native of Kenya, Dr. Wirk lived in Victoria since 1969, when he married Ranjeet, the granddaughter of pioneers who settled in B.C. in 1906 and the daughter of first Indo-Canadian couple to be married in Victoria.