Statement by the Prime Minister & Premier on the anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Ottawa: The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident:

“One hundred and five years ago today, the Komagata Maru steamship arrived in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet. On board were 376 Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus of South Asian origin hoping to settle in Canada and build a better life for themselves and their families.

“Few of them ever set foot on Canadian soil. Immigration officials, enforcing discriminatory laws of the time, did not allow the ship to dock. For two months, passengers were confined to the ship and denied regular access to food and water. The Canadian government of the day eventually forced the Komagata Maru to return to India, where some were killed and many others imprisoned.

“Three years ago, I stood in the House of Commons to apologize on behalf of the Government of Canada to all those whose lives were changed by this tragic event. While we cannot erase their pain and suffering, we can learn from this dark chapter in our history – and instead, choose the path of compassion and open our arms to those in need.

“Today, as we remember the victims of the Komagata Maru tragedy and their descendents, let’s also honour the invaluable contributions the South Asian community has made, and continues to make, to Canada. Diversity is our greatest strength, and one of the building blocks of a better, more prosperous country for everyone.”

Premier’s statement on Komagata Maru anniversary

Premier John Horgan

Victoria: Premier John Horgan has issued the following statement in recognition of the anniversary of the Komagata Maru’s arrival in British Columbia on May 23, 1914:

“Today marks 105 years since the passengers of the Komagata Maru arrived on the shores of British Columbia in the hope of building a better life. Instead, these 340 Sikh, 24 Muslim and 12 Hindu travellers were greeted with discriminatory laws, hatred and injustice.

“Only a few passengers with residency status were able to disembark. The rest were forced to remain on board in deplorable conditions and under constant pressure to leave Canadian waters. Two months later, the ship was forced to return to India. Upon arrival, 19 people were killed and others were imprisoned.

“The Province of British Columbia formally apologized in the legislature in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru episode. This horrific event stands as a reminder to never forget the past and always learn from each other’s stories and history, so this does not happen again.

“For over a century, British Columbia’s history, culture and economy have been enriched by the South Asian community, who have helped build this province. As we reflect on this dark chapter in our history, we resolve to always stand up for human rights, equality and a better, more inclusive B.C.”