LETHBRIDGE -- Members of the India Canada Cultural Association of Lethbridge gathered in front of city hall on Tuesday to raise their nation’s tri-colour flag in celebration of India’s Republic Day.

Association president, Dr. Surya Acharya, says although COVID-19 restrictions meant no more than 10 people could attend the flag raising, it’s still important to show their pride.

“We have a large number of Indian people here, so we might as well let people know that yes, we are celebrating," he said.

The flag raising was a far cry from the events that unfolded overseas.

Thousands of angry farmers protesting new agricultural laws — which they say favour large corporations and hurt small farm owners — made their way into India’s capital, breaking through police barricades and waving farm union and religious flags.

Acharya said rather than focusing on the current dispute in India, he would rather highlight the importance of India’s Republic Day.

“We want our children and grandchildren to know what this day is and how it is significant,” he said

“This is the day when India became a republic. That means they got they got their own constitution they don’t depend of the British constitution that they were depending on before that.” 

According to the most recent census from Statistics Canada, more than 2,000 people of South Asian descent live in Lethbridge, making it the largest visible minority population in the city.

India Canada Cultural Association of Lethbridge member Priya Bansal said the community is proud to be able to have the Indian flag hoisted for everyone to see.

“Being here in Lethbridge and being in Canada where it is a multicultural country, it means a lot to be able to fly our tri-colour flag here in front of city hall,” she said.

“It shows that there is this culture existing here. We have people from every region in India here in Lethbridge. So it really means a lot to be able to show this.”

Under normal circumstances, the flag raising would have been followed by a meal and cultural programs.