The latest issue (August-September 2022) of Canada’s History magazine, established in 1920 as The Beaver, carries an excellent 8 page article by Ottawa’s Dr. Shezan Muhammedi under the title “Sitting on Fire” based on his forthcoming book “Gifts From Amin – Ugandan Asian Refugees in Canada,” which is due o be released in September 2022 by the University of Manitoba Press. Shezan holds a Ph.D from the University of Western Ontario and is a policy analyst with the Canadian Federal Government and an adjunct research professor in the Department of History at Carleton University in Ottawa.
August 4, 2022 marked the 50th anniversary of President Idi Amin’s announcement in 1972 that all Ugandan residents of South Asian descent, whether citizens or not, had ninety days to leave the country, creating an international humanitarian crisis. Among those affected by the decree, which came into effect a few days later on August 9, 1972, were Shezan’s own mother and family who arrived in Canada in the fall of 1972 along with thousands of other Ugandan Asian refugees. Shezan’s piece in Canada’s History may be accessed by subscribers of the magazine.
The University of Manitoba has put out the following brief on Shezan’s Gifts From Amin:
“In August 1972, military leader and despot Idi Amin expelled Asian Ugandans from the country, professing to return control of the economy to “Ugandan citizens.” Within ninety days, 50,000 Ugandans of South Asian descent were forced to leave and seek asylum elsewhere; nearly 8,000 resettled in Canada. This major migration event marked the first time Canada accepted a large group of predominantly Muslim, non-European, non-white refugees.
“Shezan Muhammedi’s Gifts from Amin documents how these women, children, and men — including doctors, engineers, business leaders, and members of Muhammedi’s own family — responded to the threat in Uganda and rebuilt their lives in Canada. Building on extensive archival research and oral histories, Muhammedi provides a nuanced case study on the relationship between public policy, refugee resettlement, and assimilation tactics in the twentieth century.
“As the numbers of forcibly displaced people around the world continue to rise, Muhammedi’s analysis of policymaking and refugee experience is eminently relevant. The first major oral history project dedicated to the stories of Ugandan Asian refugees in Canada, Gifts from Amin explores the historical context of their expulsion from Uganda, the multiple motivations behind Canada’s decision to admit them, and their resilience over the past fifty years.”
Date posted: August 14, 2022.
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