Abbotsford, the KKK and Undoing White-Washed Histories
Ian Rocksborough-Smith Abstract
This presentation will consider the relatively unknown history of the Ku Klux Klan in Abbotsford and situate it in the context of white supremacy in the 1920s Pacific Northwest. It will consider the ways Abbotsford’s local lumber barons, noted in Professor Sandhra’s abstract above, had family members who were part of a network of pacific northwest white supremacist organizations that worked to limit, restrict, and racially discriminate against migrant workers from Asia to this part of the world in that time. Additionally, this presentation will touch on the ways my work as a local heritage society board member and anglo-settler-historian (which was part of my faculty community service commitments) led to engagement with a mostly white-colonial settler heritage organization. This engagement subsequently revealed the ways local history gatekeepers, directed by white philanthropic powerbrokers, have kept much of this local history about the KKK and its related affairs understudied for decades as part of the legacies of these white supremacist histories still alive in the present.
Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra Abstract
This presentation will look at the history of Sikh migration in Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley beyond the nostalgic experiences of ‘resilience’ and overcoming to the forms of racism and narratives of not-belonging which manifested through the building of the Gur Sikh Temple and through the labour systems of unequitable working conditions when working for the Abbotsford Lumber Company. The presentation will argue that the building of the Gurdwara was both an act of resistance but also an act of working within white systems of power to navigate make their own space – a system unlike that continues to today for many IBPOC groups.
Olivia Daniel Abtract (Poster Presentation)
This presentation/poster will outline two major festivals, organized by the Ku Klux Klan, in Abbotsford during the 1920s. These spectacles prove how racism was a mainstream, community belief. Abbotsford held a Mardi Gras at the Jubilee Hall for Great War Veterans on November 16th 1927. The Abbotsford Sumas & Matsqui News listed “costumes worthy of special mentions.” This included two men dressed as the “Klu Klux Klan.” This same list included a man named Mr.W.C. that appareled himself as a self-proclaimed, “Biinch Niggah.” Racist rituals normalized feelings of distress towards non-white and non-Protestant identities. On April 25th 1928, the KKK arranged a ex-nun lecture that “overflowed the hall by two to three hundred.” This fear tactic was a common recruitment tool used to enlist women and families. Reoccurring rituals emphasizes the commitment to elements of white supremacy.
Tanveer Saroya Abstract (Poster Presentation)
This presentation examines a series of articles from the digitized Abbotsford Post and Abbotsford, Sumas & Matsqui News to consider histories of discrimination against racialized immigrant communities in the Fraser Valley from the 1920s through the 1960s. It argues that these newspapers collections are a repository of knowledge about the histories of race and white supremacy in the Fraser Valley over the mid-20th Century that have been understudied to date.
Ian Rocksborough-Smith, Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, Olivia Daniel and Tanveer Saroya , University of the Fraser Valley
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