Jason Kenney issues statement on 99th Anniversary of Komagata Maru

In 1914, the Komagata Maru was turned away from Vancouver and all but 20 of its 376 passengers returned to India, where some were shot and many were imprisoned.

Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, has issued the following statement on occasion of the 99th anniversary of the arrival of the SS Komagata Maru in Vancouver, British Columbia:

“This marks the 99th anniversary of the arrival of the SS Komagata Maru in Vancouver, carrying 376 South Asian passengers, who sought refuge and a better life in Canada. Sadly, they were denied entry into Canada because of discriminatory policies purposely designed to restrict immigration from certain countries. This event marks a dark and unfortunate chapter in the history of our country.

“Throughout the 45-day standoff with authorities that followed their arrival off the shores of Vancouver, the passengers of the Komagata Maru were denied adequate nutrition and hydration. The ship was then forced to return to India, where 19 of the ship’s passengers were shot upon arrival, and most of the remaining passengers were imprisoned or placed under home arrest.

”In May 2008, our Government secured the unanimous passage of a motion in the House of Commons recognizing the Komagata Maru tragedy. In August of 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a historic public apology on behalf of the Government of Canada. Moreover, on May 18, 2012 Minister Tim Uppal, Canada’s first-ever turbaned Sikh Minister, tabled the Prime Minister’s apology in the House of Commons and read it into the official record. During his remarks in the House of Commons he also addressed his fellow Canadian Sikhs in Punjabi. I encourage you to review his thoughtful remarks.

”We are committed to ensuring that these actions are not just symbolic. To this end, we launched the Community Historical Recognition Project (CHRP), which earmarked $2.5 million to the Indo-Canadian community for projects to commemorate the tragic journey of the Komagata Maru. The largest of these many successful projects involved partnering with the Khalsa Diwan Society to build the first public monument dedicated to the Komagata Maru. This impressive monument, which was unveiled last year, is prominently located in Harbour Green Park, close to where the ship was anchored in 1914.

”As we look back at this tragedy, it is important for us to reaffirm our collective obligation to never forget what happened, and to recommit ourselves to prevent anything like it from happening again. As Prime Minister Harper said in reference to the Komagata Maru incident: “We cannot change the events of the past; we cannot undo the misdeeds committed against those long deceased. But we can bring Canadians together in the present to unite our country, and to set us on a course to accomplish greater things in the future.”