PREMIER John Horgan on Sunday said in a statement on the 107th Komagata Maru anniversary:
“In 2014, I joined hundreds of community members in downtown Vancouver to witness the 100th anniversary of the Komagata Maru’s arrival. It was an honour to hear from elders, scholars, artists and youth on the living legacy of the Komagata Maru. The 376 Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus aboard the Komagata Maru were in search of a better life when they arrived in Burrard Inlet. They all had the shared ideal of creating a home in Canada, providing for their families and starting a new life.
“Rather than welcoming newcomers to our province, Canadian immigration officials denied entry and eventually, sent them back to British India, where 19 people were killed and many others were imprisoned.
“I can’t imagine how it felt for the men, women and children on board to be turned away from their new home. Instead of being greeted with kindness and compassion, they were met by racist immigration policies and hostile officials, and forced to endure terrible conditions aboard the ship.
“The Government of British Columbia formally apologized in the legislative chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy. Last year, we made a $1.14-million commitment to the Abbotsford Community Foundation and the University of the Fraser Valley South Asian Studies Institute to deliver Haq and History: A Punjabi Canadian Legacy Project. This exhibit reflects on the history of Punjabi Canadians, in an effort to correct and enhance educational and historical records, while creating community legacies for future generations. Our government is also committed to delivering the first-of-its-kind, South Asian Canadian Museum to collect and preserve the stories, documents, art and histories of the community.
“Today also marks the beginning of Anti-Racism Awareness Week in British Columbia. Acknowledging racism is a first step, but we must back it up with real actions. Our government is focused on establishing B.C.’s first anti-racism act, we’re paving the way for race-based data collection and we’re enhancing support for community groups working on anti-racism at the local level. We have come a long way in a century, but we know there’s more we need to do.
“Hatred has no place in British Columbia, but racism has a long history in our province. We must all keep righting the wrongs of the past in order to build a present and future that is more just and welcoming for everyone.”