NDP Happy To See Trudeau Liberals Finally Giving Official Apology For Komagata Maru Tragedy

OTTAWA – NDP Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship critic, Jenny Kwan, welcomed the Komagata Maru apology announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during Vaisakhi celebration on Parliament Hill on Monday.

“On May 23, 1914 the Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet carrying 376 British subjects from India seeking refuge and a better life in Canada. For two months this vessel sat in port while its passengers were summarily denied disembarkation and basic necessities such as food and water. On July 23 the Komagata Maru was turned around and forced to depart for Asia.

This dark chapter of Canadian history came as a direct result of exclusionary laws designed to keep immigrants of Asian origin and descent out of Canada. In 2007, Jack Layton was the first party leader to call for an official apology from the Government of Canada in the House of Commons. Following Jack’s legacy, I tabled my first motion on the topic and called on the Prime Minister to honour his promise to deliver this apology in Parliament within the first 90 days of his mandate.

Today, on the eve of Vaisakhi, I am heartened to hear that the current Prime Minister will recognize this historical wrong and offer that apology on May 18. For the South Asian community, and all Canadians, this apology will begin the process of healing and reconciliation.

While the Komagata Maru incident occurred over 100 years ago, racist sentiments and anti-immigrant discrimination lives today.

The Komagata Maru will never be forgotten – instead it will be used as impetus to pursue a more just society and to create awareness so this kind of tragedy is never repeated.”

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