Minister Kenney attends unveiling of Komagata Maru monument

Ottawa — Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney yesterday joined the Khalsa Diwan Society (KDS) in the unveiling of a public monument commemorating the Komagata Maru, a ship that arrived in Vancouver harbour in 1914 carrying 376 East Indian passengers.

Most of the passengers were not allowed to land because the ship did not make a continuous journey to Canada, as was prescribed by Canadian immigration laws at the time. After almost two months in the harbour, the ship went to India where, in an altercation with British soldiers, approximately 20 passengers and a number of soldiers died.

“The immigration restrictions experienced by some people of Indian descent mark an unfortunate period in our nation’s history,” said Minister Kenney, who travelled to Vancouver for the event. “This monument commemorating the Komagata Maru incident recognizes this past.”

The Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP) provided a total of $667,407 to the Khalsa Diwan Society (KDS) of Vancouver for this project.

CHRP, announced in 2006 and launched in 2008, has already committed approximately $13.5 million toward eligible projects that address historical events that affected the Indian, Italian, Chinese, and Jewish communities in Canada.

“The Indo-Canadian community has made enormous contributions to building our nation,” said Minister Kenney. “The Government of Canada is committed to recognizing the experiences of Indo-Canadian and other communities affected by past wartime measures and immigration restrictions applied in Canada.”

In May 2008, the Government of Canada passed a unanimous motion in the House of Commons recognizing the Komagata Maru incident and apologizing to those who were directly affected. On August 3, 2008, Prime Minister Harper conveyed that apology to the Indo-Canadian community in Surrey, BC.