102nd Anniversary of the Komagata Maru and apology are lessons to us all

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VICTORIA – New Democrat John Horgan and multiculturalism spokesperson Bruce Ralston issued the following statement on the federal government’s apology and recognition of the historical wrongs of the Komagata Maru incident in 1914.

“On May 23, 1914, the Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet carrying 376 British subjects from India for a new life in Canada. However, the vessel was moored off port, eventually denied permission to come ashore and was even refused such basic necessities as food and water. On July 23 the Komagata Maru was forced to depart for Asia.

“This dark chapter of Canadian history came at a time when racist, exclusionary laws existed to deny immigrants of Asian origin and descent the right to settle in Canada. In 2007, the New Democrats under Jack Layton were the first party to call for an official apology from the Government of Canada in the House of Commons.

“The official apology in Ottawa serves as a reminder that although the Komagata Maru incident occurred 102 years ago, racism and anti-immigrant discrimination in many forms still exists today.

“We should remember the lesson of the Komagata Maru – we need to do all we can to strive toward a more just and tolerant society. For the South Asian community, and all Canadians, this apology will begin the process of healing and reconciliation.”