“The deportation of the Hindus from British Columbia will be a blessing to all concerned”: Intersections of Class and Race in the British Honduras Scheme

  • Kenny Reilly

Abstract

In the fall and winter of 1908, the Canadian Government developed the British Honduras Scheme, a plan to transport all South Asian immigrants from British Columbia to British Honduras. To justify this relocation, the Canadian Government argued that British Honduras needed cheap labour to maintain sugar plantations, railroads and that these immigrants could not survive in Canada because they faced unemployment, starvation, and they were not suited for harsh winters. Analyzing this scheme in the context of the way newspapers represented it at the time demonstrates how class and race intersected in popular understandings of South Asian people in Canada. Primary sources also reveal how South Asian immigrants resisted the scheme. They show that despite popular views of South Asians being hapless, hopeless, and inferior “hindoos” who could not survive in the northern hemisphere, the South Asian community recognized and advocated for their own interests, while resisting discrimination.