Dr. Dhalla Joins the Community
in Celebrating Vasakhi at the
Annual Khalsa Day Parade
Toronto, ON 27 April 2008 - Member of Parliament for Brampton-Springdale, Dr. Ruby Dhalla joined over 100,000 commmnity members to celebrate Vasakhi at the Annual Khalsa Day Parade. The parade was one of the largest Sikh parades in Canada and was an opportunity to celebrate the values of Sikhism.
"Sikhism promotes the values of equality, acceptance and opportunity which are hallmarks of our nation. Sikhs join all Canadians in celebrating the spirit of the Khalsa" said Dhalla.
One of the first women of South Asian origin to be elected to Canadian Parliament, Dhalla was also honoured for her achievements as a chief guest at the annual New York Sikh Day parade held yesterday in Manhattan.
"Sikhs around the world are celebrating Vaisakhi. It is an honour to celebrate with communities across North America the rich faith and values of Sikhism" commented Dhalla.
Also present at today's parade were supporters of Dr. Dhalla's historic private members motion, which asks the government to officially apologize to the Indo-Canadian community for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident. Supporters of the cause talked to parade attendees to encourage all parliamentarians to support the motion asking the Canadian Government to apologize for this black mark in Canadian history.
Due to discriminatory and exclusionary immigration laws in the 1900's the Komagata Maru streamliner which arrived in Vancouver on May 23, 1914 from India, was refused entry in to Canada. After being kept in Vancouver for almost two months without food or water the 376 passengers, who were mostly from Punjab, were forced to leave Canadian waters. Upon arrival back to India, many were subsequently killed and imprisoned.
While speaking at the Khalsa Parade Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion urged all members of parliament to support the motion and committed a future Liberal Government to an official apology for the Komagata Maru incident.
While Prime Minister Stephen Harper has referred to the Komagata Maru incident as a "source of sorrow" and promised to "undertake consultations with the Indo-Canadian community on how best to recognize this sad moment in our history," to date, no progress has been made and no apology received. In fact, Conservatives have indicated they will not support the motion for the Canadian Government to apologize. Even more troubling, was the significant boycott by federal Conservative elected representatives and nominated candidates at today's parade. The failure of federal Conservatives to show up at this important celebration and gathering of Sikh Canadians is certainly an embarrassment for the party and an insult to the Indo-Canadian community.