ON Wednesday, the City of Port Moody unveiled a new heritage storyboard in Rocky Point Park commemorating the 1914 Komagata Maru incident and the efforts of the local Sikh community to reduce the suffering of passengers forced to stay aboard the ship.
The Komagata Maru was the name of a steamship carrying 376 prospective immigrants, mostly Sikhs from the Punjab region of India. In May 1914, when the ship arrived in Vancouver, the passengers were denied entry to Canada and forced to stay aboard due to enforcement of Canada’s exclusionary and discriminatory immigration laws.
The storyboard, titled “Remembering the Komagata Maru,” has been installed in Rocky Point Park (2800-block of Murray Street) at the water’s edge just west of the restaurant building at 2770 Esplanade Avenue. It was developed in partnership with the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society and the City’s Heritage Commission.
“This storyboard is an important reminder of the damage caused by systemic racism, as it existed in the past and as it exists today,” said Port Moody Mayor Meghan Lahti. “It encourages us to continue to fight discrimination and foster inclusion in our communities so that we can create a better future for everyone.
“In 1914, the members of Port Moody’s Sikh community came together to collect food, water, medication, and money to help the Komagata Maru passengers. It’s our hope that their selflessness and compassion, brought to life through this storyboard, will inspire all of us to think about how we can make positive changes in our city and our world. While much has changed since 1914, there is still a lot of work to do as we strive to create a more equitable and inclusive community.”
“The Komagata Maru interpretive sign in Port Moody will help educate the community and remind us of how unique Canada and Port Moody’s diverse makeup is,” said Raj Singh Toor, Vice-President of the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society. “We are all richer when we remember how special it is to have so many different ethnic communities living together.
“The Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society hopes that it will help to connect Canadians, British Columbians, and Port Moody residents with their past to build a more peaceful and tolerant tomorrow. We can’t undo the past, but we can move forward and leave a legacy for future generations by educating them about the past.”
The new storyboard is part of the City’s Historical Stone Marker and Storyboard Program, which commemorates people, places, and events that have played an important role in Port Moody’s history. Visit portmoody.ca to find out more. To learn more about the Komagata Maru incident, visit thecanadianencycolpedia.ca or descendantskomagatamaru.ca.