Pat McFadden MP today celebrated ‘The Birmingham and the Black Country Sikh Migration story’ at the exhibition’s current home at the University of Wolverhampton.
The touring exhibition, which was first launched at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in July this year, will also visit four other locations, including the Nishkam Centre, Dudley Library and Sandwell Community History and Archives.
The project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, details the journeys and contributions made by the Sikh community in Birmingham and the Black Country. It includes more than 30 video interviews conducted with migrants spanning several generations, an educational toolkit for schools, a comprehensive website and legacy-resource that will be deposited in the Library of Birmingham and Sandwell Archives.
Pat commented “This is a really interesting and informative exhibition. It tells the story of Sikh migration to the Black Country over several generations and the huge progress the Sikh community has made over that time. It also sets out the key values of Sikhi and I would encourage anyone who has the time to see the exhibition while they can.”
Jasbir Uppal, Lecturer and Head of Recruitment and Marketing at the University of Wolverhampton, as well as a Project Steering Group member, commented that “there is a rich Sikh heritage in Wolverhampton, and the exhibition tells a story of their extraordinary journey and the importance of recording the strife, struggles, and their successes.”
Munpreet Kaur, Project Coordinator, spoke about the project’s goals, and the urgency of capturing these stories: “Because of the time limit, it is important that we capture first-hand accounts from Sikhs. There is still so much to do, and we request more volunteers to be part of this effort – record your family story, help us find the patterns and the big picture. Help us hold on to the teachings of our elders, like Mr Sewa Singh Mandla [the project’s oldest participant (Mandla v Lee Case) who recently passed away] before they are lost to us forever. I think it’s our duty to connect with our roots and not to forget where we are today is a testament to their work, their sacrifice and their love for us”.
Surjeet Singh Sandhu, a participant who recorded an oral history interview for the project, told his story about his childhood in Punjab in the mid-1960s. Now a senior design engineer, he spoke of his amazement at being from ‘a poor family, unknown village’ with no shoes until the age of 12 years old, but yet after arriving in the UK managed to give back substantially to the community in his adult life.
The exhibition will move to the Nishkam Centre in Handsworth, Birmingham, in December 2017.