“The Practice of Oral History” — HIST 400

In W2023, HIST 400, “The Practice of Oral History,” was offered for the first time in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia. Students in the class learned about, and practiced, oral history methods, and then undertook final projects based on oral history interviews.

Here are a few projects, for which permission has been granted to make them public:

Feminism, Loss & Liberation: A Daughter’s Journey through MAiD

“Remembering Home Deliveries: An Oral History with Doug Hockley” by Kristina Hockley

Hijabi Muslim Women’s Experiences of Religious and Intersectional Discrimination” by Sadika Wakaa.

“Documenting Punjabi Canada” in W2018

“Documenting Punjabi Canada” (ASIA 475) was taught for the third time in W2018, and for the second time by PhD Candidate and documentary filmmaker, Ajay Bhardwaj. Students undertook exciting projects on a range of themes, breaking new ground and contributing to the documentation of Punjabi culture and history in British Columbia. We make available here those projects for which permissions were given for public sharing.

Rhea Bassan, Palvi Sandhar : Documentary Film on Punjabi LGBTQ+ Activism


Indiana Joel: Learning Punjabi Language in Canada 

Prab Kalra: UBC Punjabi Studies Program, Student Work

Jaewoo Lee, Wanyoung Na, Kevin Lee: The History of Punjabi Market in Vancouver

“Documenting Punjabi Canada” in Term 1, W2017: Student projects


ASIA 475: Documenting Punjabi Canada

This class allows students to work independently and in groups to explore the history of the Punjabi Canadian community through traditional text-based methods and oral history collection (in English or Punjabi). Final projects take the form of an academic paper or a short video or sound project. The class provided an introduction to Punjabi Canadian history and assisted students in framing, researching, and completing independent group or individual projects on any theme, but special focus was encouraged on the commemoration of “Canada 150+” in 2017, and on Punjabi Canadian labour history in British Columbia, for which rich materials were made available.

UBC Asian Studies Ph.D. candidate and documentary filmmaker Ajay Bhardwaj taught “Documenting Punjabi Canada” in W2017, producing a new group of student projects, some of which are now available below. Additional film projects were completed for which permission was not granted for public viewing; some students also opted to write academic papers for the final project assignment. All embraced Oral History as a way of exploring local Punjabi Canadian and related histories.

Panjah Saal da Safar — 50 Year Journey

The South Okanagan Punjabi Community

2015-6: “Documenting Punjabi Canada” (ASIA 475)

Students in ASIA 475, “Documenting Punjabi Canada” (W2015, Term 1) developed oral history projects based on interviews with members of the community. Out of 15 students, one project took the form of a traditional academic paper; another was a textual and visual creative work, combining personal narrative, poetry, and visual collage (this latter project is given below). The remainder consisted of a series of digital video or audio projects. Below are the final projects, excluding those that due to privacy concerns on the part of participants cannot be made public.

Exploring Punjabi Lives: Canada’s Multiculturalism Policy

By Navneet Aujla

Interview with Moe Sihota, Indo-Canadian politician, by Hareen Bhandal


Challenges in the Intergenerational Transmission of Sikhism

Emmett Chan


by Kathryn Sloan Geddes

Voice of the Mute

By Sukhwinder Gill

In Daddy’s Shoes: A First Person Narrative of the Immigration Experiences of Gurchet Singh Kandola

By Manisha Kandola

Our Family’s Story of Immigration and Travel

By Gurnoor and Kunvarjeet Kang

South Asians Helping South Asians

Harleen Randhawa

2014-5: New Developments

We have proposed to locate our rather ambitious Oral History project in a two-part program for advanced students. As a part of a larger effort to develop a fourth-year Punjabi language program at UBC, we have developed and received approval for a new Fourth Year Punjabi language course that will allow students to concentrate on language use and video production. This will allow for the return of more structured language instruction in PUNJ 300, and a more open-ended and language-use oriented focus for the new Fourth Year course.

We also have received approval for a new 400-level course entitled ASIA 475 “Documenting Punjabi Canada” being offered for the first time in fall 2015. This will allow for Oral History investigation and documentation in the context of an English-language content class. Stay tuned to see student results!

2013-4: New Oral History Projects

The Punjabi Oral HIstory Project continued in 2013-4 under the careful eye of Sukhwant Hundal. Students in the Punjabi 300 class explored the oral history of Punjabi literature in British Columbia by interviewing five Punjabi-language writers active in BC. Explore the interviews below.

Mohan Gill


Manga Basi


Inderjit Kaur Sidhu


Nadeem Parmar


Harpreet Sekha



The Punjabi Oral History Program continued in the 2012-2013 academic year, with the generous support of the Canada India Education Society. Students explored Punjabi literature produced in British Columbia, with a special focus on representations of the Komagata Maru incident. This took place in anticipation of the centenary of the Incident in 2014 (see above for more on the commemoration of the incident at UBC). Students read plays that relate to the Incident, as well as more general literature from the Punjabi-language writing community of the area, and engaged in oral history collection among writers and others.

The final results of the program were aired at the Harjit Kaur Sidhu Memorial Program on March 7, 2013 (see above under “Annual Event”). They were also aired in the “Ma Boli” Punjabi-langauge film festival happening in Vancouver April 19-21, 2013.

Student Video: Punjabi Women in Writing

Student Video: “Harchand Singh Bagri: Versatile in creations and themes”:

Student Video: The Komagata Maru: A Continuing Journey

Complete (raw) Interview Footage:

Trial year: 2010-2011

In 2010-2011, with the support of a grant from the UBC Community-Based Learning initiative (now a part of the Centre for Community Engaged Learning, http://students.ubc.ca/about/centre-community-engaged-learning), the Punjabi Oral History Program commenced. Based in the Punjabi 300 (third year) Punjabi course, the program enabled students to interview local writers–while reading locally-produced literature–and produce short video projects that explored issues that emerged in interviews. Overall, the class explored the experience and expression of Diaspora, through the medium of Punjabi-language literature.


An exciting feature of the initial year of our program was our participation in the ground-breaking exhibition on Bhangra, Bhangra.me, which took place at the Museum of Vancouver in 2011. Our students collected stories about the ongoing history of Bhangra in greater Vancouver, and contributed these to the exhibition. See more about the award-winning exhibition at http://www.bhangra.me/.

A sample of student work from 2010-2011 (more will be added; material is now here only in partial form):
STUDENT VIDEO PROJECT: The Future of Punjabi Literature

INTERVIEW: Gill Moranwali
INTERVIEW: Gurcharan Rampuri
INTERVIEW: Jarnail Singh Sekha
STUDENT VIDEO PROJECT: The Progression of Women

INTERVIEW: Jarnail Singh Chitarkar
STUDENT VIDEO PROJECT: The Artwork of Jarnail Singh

STUDENT VIDEO PROJECT: The Importance of Promoting Punjabi in Canada

STUDENT VIDEO PROJECT: Punjabi Culture and Indo-Canadian Youth