The Des Pardes Award Winning Exhibition of South Asians in British Columbia

Khushbash Singh Dhillon listens to one of many community interviews featured in the Des Pardes exhibition. Photo by Dale Klippenstein

Des Pardes, an exhibition currently showing at The Reach Gallery Museum until June 15, has taken home an Outstanding Award in the Education, Communications, and Awareness category at the Heritage BC Awards hosted in Nelson, BC on May 2.

The exhibition developed by The Reach Gallery Museum is a community-engaged project that focuses on the history and contributions of Abbotsford’s significant and diverse South Asian Canadian communities. Over three years, hundreds of community members contributed ideas, knowledge, and stories, as well as historical objects and archival documents, to achieve the goals of the project. Des Pardes culminates in a major community-based exhibition, a robust suite of educational programs, and increased digitized access to heritage.

Des Pardes shows the importance of investing in contributors and collaborators to create impactful community-oriented programs”, says Britney Dack, Chair of Heritage BC. “Through innovative storytelling in multiple languages, and in leading the way with community engagement, the project’s impacts go well beyond the local, to a national level.”

“The quality of nominations that we received this year made for a difficult decision with our panel of judges. The quality and breadth of heritage projects that are being developed in communities big and small across British Columbia is impressive. It demonstrates how important it is to dig deep to learn about the heritage that makes our communities what they are today, and the value in sharing and preserving what we learn. It is an exciting time to be recognizing achievements in heritage,” Says Dack.

The exhibition is a large-scale multi-sensory experience that uses historical photographs, oral histories, contemporary interviews, family heirlooms, and works of contemporary art to illustrate themes like migration, family, and oppression & opposition. Interpretive texts in the resulting exhibition are presented in four languages: English, Punjabi, Urdu, and Hindi.