Today, May 23rd, marks the 99th anniversary of the arrival of the Komagata Maru into Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet.
With 376 passengers onboard, the Komagata Maru ended its long, Pacific journey in Canada, only to be met with rejection. Due to the discriminatory “continuous journey” regulation, passengers were prevented from disembarking while the ship remained in Burrard Inlet for two months. Passengers were even denied basic necessities, including food and water.
This was one of several incidents in the early 20th century involving Canada’s exclusion laws, designed to keep out immigrants of Asian origin and descent.
The tragedy of the Komagata Maru marks a dark chapter in Canadian history, one that must be honoured by the recognition of the failures of our past, and inspire us to pursue a more equal Canada for future generations.
Along with my NDP colleagues, I will continue to push for a formal, official apology on the floor of the House of Commons for this tragedy.
An apology is long overdue and a necessary part of the healing and reconciliation process.