Canadian Prime Minister will officially apologize for the ‘Komagata Maru’ incident of 1914.
Of course, you might not be aware of what this incident was all about. So here goes:
- In 1914, a ship with 376 passengers from Punjab set sail for Vancouver, Canada from Hong Kong via Shanghai and Yokohama.
- It reached an inlet near Vancouver on May 23 that year, but was not allowed to dock at the port.
- Due to Canada’s immigration policy of the time – which was anti-Asian – the ship was asked to turn back to India.
- After much deliberations, only 24 passengers were allowed into Canada. The rest revolted but to no avail.
- On July 23 the ship departed for Asia. It reached Calcutta (now Kolkata), India on September 27.
- In India, the British put the passengers under guard on the ship suspecting them of being political agitators resulting in a riot that left 19 of the passengers dead.
Passengers of the Komagata Maru photographed upon the ship’s arrival in Vancouver in 1914. Wikimedia Commons
It is for this incident, over 102 years ago, that the Canadian PM will be issuing an apology on May 18 in the House of Commons.
“The passengers of the Komagata Maru, like millions of immigrants to Canada since, were seeking refuge, and better lives for their families. With so much to contribute to their new home, they chose Canada and we failed them utterly,” Trudeau said. Previously, in 2008, then Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper apologized to the Sikh community in Surrey but did not apologize formally.