I commend Prime Minister Trudeau for his integrity in offering a long overdue formal apology for the turning away from Vancouver of the Komagata Maru in 1914. It is valuable for us to reflect on the discriminatory laws which allowed incidents such as this to occur in the past, in order to ensure we continue to guard the human rights of all members of our population – citizens, soon-to-be citizens and this who aspire to be citizens.
On May 23, 1914, the Komagata Maru arrived at Vancouver harbour carrying 376 mainly Sikh passengers who were seeking asylum from Canada in order to escape persecution in India. The ship was held in the harbour for two months until it was ordered to leave. Upon its return to India, twenty passengers were killed and many were imprisoned.
To learn more about the Komagata Maru incident watch the video produced by Aboriginal Initiatives – Centre for Teaching Learning and Technology (CTLT) and St. Johns College. The video received funded from UBC’s Equity Enhancement Fund.