May 23rd, 2018
May 23rd, 2018
104 years ago, when the Komagata Maru steamship docked in Vancouver, 376 passengers aboard had hopes for a better life here in Canada.
The passengers of Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu faith, all fellow British subjects, had the expectation that they would be treated fairly, and be given the dignity and respect that they deserved from Canadian officials.
However, as a result of racist and discriminatory laws, designed to exclude entire groups of people from Canada, most of the passengers of the Komagata Maru were refused entry.
For two months, passengers were refused basic care and support from Canadian authorities, before being forced to return to India where some would be killed and face severe persecution, imprisonment, and discrimination.
In 2016, the government of Canada issued a formal apology to the victims and their families – however, the immeasurable harm of these policies, and this tragedy, cannot be understated.
While the healing continues, we owe it to all the victims who were turned away a commitment that this kind of tragedy will never be allowed to happen again.
Today, more than ever, as we see xenophobic and racist attitudes towards immigration and refugee resettlement on the rise, we must fight for a more welcoming Canada.
As New Democrats, we will continue to fight for a Canada where diversity is celebrated, families can reunite with loved ones, and those who need our support are given refuge during their darkest hours.