Sikhism was the first religion from India to settle in America during 19th century. Since then, Sikhs have become a part of American history, with Bhagat Singh Thind being the first Sikh to be recruited in the American military, and Dalip Singh Saund (elected in 1956) being the first Asian American member of the United States House of Representatives. Many more who have contributed to the American economy, military and the lifestyle. It is believed that there are at least 500,000 Sikhs are living in the United States, most of them came in the mid 1980s, to escape persecution in India.
Canadian Sikhs are one of the most prominent non-Christian religious groups in Canada, and form the country's largest South Asian ethnic group. According to the 2001 census there are 278,000 Sikhs in Canada, and this is likely an undercount. Some unofficial reports go as high as 400,000. Census figures suggest that there were 145,000 Sikhs in Canada in 1991 (up from 67,710 a decade earlier), but this is recognized to be an undercount. Population estimates of all Canadian South Asians based primarily on immigration data show that there were roughly 530,000 South Asians in Canada at the end of 1993; of these, about 35%, or 180,000, are believed to be Sikhs.
In the 1890 and early 1900s all immigrants from India were indiscriminately called "hindoo" or "hindu" regardless of religious affiliation. The term "hindoo" was also sometimes used in a derogatory sense for anyone from that continent. "These Hindus are all old soldiers. They know little outside of their regular drill… I would have White labourers of course if I can get them… But I would rather give employment to these old soldiers who have helped to fight for the British Empire than to entire aliens." (The Daily Province, October 1906)
According to "Buddhists,Hindus and Sikhs in America" by Gurinder Singh Mann.
"A few Sikh soldiers settled on the Pacific Coast of British Columbia, Canada, during the 1890s. Others followed, choosing to emigrate to Canada because it, like India, was then part of the British empire. Eventually, a number of these Sikhs would move from Canada south to the United States. Sikh began to emigrate to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. By about 1915, approximately 6,000 of them had landed on the West Coast, either directly or way of Canada. Most came from the Punjab.A few arrived from places like Hong Kong and Shanghai, China, where they had served in the British armed forces.These early Sikh immigrants, both well-travelled soldiers and those who had left their villages for the first time, hailed from small to medium- sized land-owning families in the central Punjab. Many of them had left home to make money, expand their holdings, and improve the status of their families in the home villages of the Punjab. "