Dhalla Tables Motion 469 Asking the
Government to Apologize to the
Indo-Canadian Community for the
Komagata Maru Incident
Ottawa, ON - Dr. Ruby Dhalla, Member of Parliament for Brampton-Springdale, tabled a motion on Wednesday April 2, 2008 asking the government to officially apologize to the Indo-Canadian community and the individuals impacted in the 1914 Komagata Maru incident.
The Komagata Maru streamliner arrived in Vancouver on May 23, 1914 from India with 376 passengers mostly from Punjab. Upon arrival, the Canadian Government erected barriers to stop the immigrants from disembarking and refused them permission to land.
The passengers were detained in the Vancouver Harbour and forced to live like prisoners, threatened by famine and disease for two months.Except for 24 passengers that were given permission to stay in Canada the Komagata Maru and its passengers was forced to leave Canadian waters on July 23, 1914. Upon arrival back in India some ofthese passengers were subsequently killed and imprisoned.
"The Komagata Maru tragedy is a huge black mark in ournation's history.It is a powerful symbol of the injustices that have occurred and the policy of exclusion that existed for immigrants entering Canada on the basis of culture, religion and skin color.As a country of equality, acceptance and opportunity this dark chapter needs to be brought to an end," said Dr. Dhalla.
On August 6 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Indo-Canadian community leaders in Surrey, BC, and referred to the Komagata Maru incident as a "source of sorrow" and promised to "undertake consultations with the Indo-Canadian community how best to recognize this sad moment in our history."Unfortunately to date no progress has been made and no apology received.
On March 9 2007, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion committed a future Liberal Government to an official apology for the Komagata Maru incident. "This tragedy of injustice warrants an official apology from the Canadian government. As a nation that champions human rights, democracy and freedom this motion is an opportunity for all parliamentarians to put partisan politics aside and support the motion," said Dr. Dhalla.