City of Vancouver apologizes for its role in 1914 Komagata Maru incident


VANCOUVER
City Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a motion brought by Councillor Jean Swanson to formally apologize “for the injustice of the motion of the June 1914 Council that passed a resolution saying it was “unalterably opposed to the admittance of Hindus and other Asiatic races into this country…” and that “… these people would prove a serious menace to our civilization, both economically and socially …” and its cruel effects on individuals and families impacted by the Komagata Maru incident.”

The City also declared that May 23 will be known as “Komagata Maru Remembrance Day” in Vancouver.

Raj Singh Toor, Vice-President and Spokesperson for the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society, also spoke on the occasion. He told The VOICE that on behalf of the society he thanks Swanson for bringing the motion. He added: “I am glad to be a part of making this happen.”

Komagata Maru Apology and Remembrance Day Proclamation

WHEREAS

1. On May 23, 1914, three hundred and seventy-six British Subjects from India of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu origin arrived in Vancouver Harbour aboard the Komagata Maru, seeking to enter Canada;

2. On July 23, 1914, the Komagata Maru was forced to leave as a result of a discriminatory act by the Government of Canada, without allowing the passengers to disembark;

3. On May 23, 2008, at the request of the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society, the BC Government apologized for the events of May 23, 1914, stating that “The House deeply regrets that the passengers, who sought refuge in our country and our province, were turned away without benefit of the fair and impartial treatment befitting a society where people of all cultures are welcomed and accepted”;

4. On May 18, 2016, at the request of the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society, the Canadian Government apologized for the events of May 23, 1914, stating that it was sorry for its indifference and discriminatory laws, and that it was committed “to positive action – to learning from the mistakes of the past, and to making sure that we never repeat them”;

5. The City of Vancouver is committed to protecting British Columbians from hate, racism, and discrimination through legislation, education, and example;

6. The City of Vancouver is home to many diverse cultures where individuals can practice their beliefs and customs while respecting and learning from other traditions;

7. The City of Vancouver promotes multiculturalism and the full and free participation of all individuals in society; and

8. Vancouver Mayor Truman Baxter organized an anti-Asian rally, and the first speaker was the prominent politician H.H. Stevens. “I have no ill-feeling against people coming from Asia personally,” he told the crowd, “but I reaffirm that the national life of Canada will not permit any large degree of immigration from Asia…I intend to stand up absolutely on all occasions on this one great principle-of a white country and a white British Columbia.” (http://www.vancouverhistory.ca/archives_komagatamaru.htm [vancouverhistory.ca])

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED

A. THAT Council formally apologizes for the injustice of the motion of the June 1914 Council that passed a resolution saying it was “unalterably opposed to the admittance of Hindus and other Asiatic races into this country…” and that “… these people would prove a serious menace to our civilization, both economically and socially …” and its cruel effects on individuals and families impacted by the Komagata Maru incident.

B. THAT the City of Vancouver declare, by proclamation, that May 23rd shall be known as “Komagata Maru Remembrance Day” in Vancouver.