Premier John Horgan has released the following statement in recognition of the anniversary of the Komagata Maru’s arrival in British Columbia on May 23, 1914:
“Today marks the 106th anniversary of the Komagata Maru’s arrival on the shores of British Columbia. On board were 376 Sikh, Muslim and Hindu people, hoping to build a better life for themselves and their families. Instead, they were blocked from completing their journey because of discriminatory laws that banned South Asians from immigrating to Canada.
“When I look out the window from my Vancouver office, I can see the exact spot where the Komagata Maru was moored for two months as its passengers endured cruel conditions. After being forced to leave Canadian waters, 19 people were killed, and others were imprisoned upon return to India.
“On this day, I think of the people who were on that ship and how they must have felt. I wonder how they would have enriched our country if given the opportunity. Some were students and labourers, others were ex-soldiers from the British Indian regiments. All of them shared the dream of making British Columbia their home.
“Racism is part of our history in British Columbia, and our work continues to right the wrongs of the past. The Province of British Columbia formally apologized in the legislative chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy. This event stands as a reminder for how racism, discrimination and hate have hurt generations of people. But it also reminds us of the incredible resiliency in our province – including all those who stand up against injustice and work to make B.C. a place where everyone is welcome and safe.
“As we live through the COVID-19 pandemic, racism has tarnished our community’s response. People have been attacked and assaulted. Racism has no place in our province. We must stand firm against hate and learn from our past as we build a better, more inclusive future.”