Friday, May 23, 2014

Community gathers to commemorate the Komagata Maru

On board the Komagata Maru. Front left is the organizer of the 
voyage, Gurdit Singh, who said: “We are British citizens and we 
consider we have a right to visit any part of the Empire.” 
Dear Saanich South,

Today marks the 100 year anniversary of an important moment of our history, the arrival and immediate on-board detention of 376 would-be new Canadians, mostly Sikhs from Punjab in India. This incident is known by the name of the ship they travelled on, the Komagata Maru.

All are invited to the Saanich Commonwealth Place this Wednesday, May 28th, 11am-12pm for: Echoes of Courage: Komagata Maru 1914-2014.

Community leaders will gather to commemorate the 100 year anniversary with a ceremony and the opening of a week-long educational exhibition. Light refreshments will be served.

This event is being organized by the India-Canada Cultural Association of Victoria with assistance from the municipality of Saanich and my office. I want to note with appreciation the volunteer leadership of Mr. Sabba Sall in organizing this event.

Mr. Sall writes:
The purpose of the exhibit on May 28th is to raise awareness about this incident so that injustices like it can be talked about honestly and so that they do not happen to any race regardless of colour or culture. We must be ever vigilant to ensure equality for all in Canada --our home.  
The Komagata Maru was anchored in the Burrard Inlet, as a fierce public and legal dispute raged over the right of those on board to enter Canada.

The passengers’ treatment was unquestionably defined by the racist sentiments of the time. They were deprived of due process, fair treatment, and even food and water. The ship was eventually forced to leave after a two month stand-off.

The incident marked a unifying moment for the now-vibrant and successful Indo-Canadian community, and it remains an historic event for Canada worthy of study and commemoration.

To learn more about the Komagata Maru incident, visit:

Warm regards, 


Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South