An interpretive sign recognizing the tragedy of the Komagata Maru was unveiled in North Delta Monday morning (Nov. 1).
Installation of the storyboard near the spray park at the North Delta Social Heart Plaza stems from a proposal from the non-profit Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society to name a park, street or other civic asset in memory of the ship’s passengers. Council voted to instal the sign at the park last December.
The Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver from Hong Kong in May 1914, carrying 376 passengers. Most of the passengers were immigrants from the Punjab region in what was then British India. The hundreds of passengers were not allowed on shore, and for two months they remained in the waters outside of Vancouver before being forced to return to India.
Upon their return, 20 of the passengers were shot and killed “in an encounter with British Indian police and troops,” according to canadianencyclopedia.ca.
“We can’t undo the past, but we can move forward and leave a legacy for future generations by educating them about the past,” Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society vice-president and spokesperson Raj Singh Toor said in an email to the North Delta Reporter.
“In 1968, my uncle sponsored my grandfather to come to Canada, however my grandfather refused, saying that he had a painful, bitter memory of Canada. He said that he did not want to move to Canada, but he foresaw that, in spite of what happened in 1914, the South Asian community would be very successful and live happily and peacefully in Canada. His words came true.”
In his email, Toor thanked Mayor George Harvie and Delta council, city and mayor’s office staff, and members of Delta’s Heritage Advisory Commission for their work in making the signs a reality.
“This new Komagata Maru storyboard sign in the North Delta Social Heart Plaza will help educate the community and remind us of Delta’s diverse makeup. I hope that it will help in connecting British Columbians, Canadians and Delta residents with their past in order to build a more peaceful and tolerant tomorrow,” Toor said.
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