TORONTO: Canadian Sikhs have demanded that the 1914 Komagata Maru tragedy be made part of Canada’s school curriculum, as they welcomed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s apology for the “great injustice” done to the Indian migrants.
The World Sikh Organization has written to Canadian provincial ministers calling for the Komagata Maru incident to be included in school curricula.
“Prime Minster Trudeau’s apology in the House of Commons today is a historic moment for Canadian Sikhs and recognizes the dark chapter the Komagata Maru tragedy marks in Canada’s history,” WSO president Mukhbir Singh said.
Singh said it was essential that the incident, as well as the anti-immigrant sentiment that fueled the episode, be made a part of our provincial education curricula.
“It is important that we as Canadians teach our youngsters to confront issues such as racism and xenophobia and learning about the Komagata Maru incident is an excellent opportunity to do so,” he said.
The WSO has offered assistance to the provincial ministers of education in providing resources to help make the Komagata Maru a part of their education curricula, the organization said in a statement.
Komagata Maru sailed into Vancouver harbor on May 23, 1914 from Hong Kong carrying 376 passengers, but most of the passengers were eventually turned away on the grounds of the “continuous journey clause” that allowed only travelers on a trip without interruption to land in Canada.
After two months in limbo in the harbor, the ship was escorted out of the harbor by the military. It returned to India and on its arrival, at least 19 people were killed in a skirmish with British soldiers, while others were jailed.
Trudeau apologized in the House of Commons yesterday, saying, “More than a century ago a great injustice took place.”
“Canada’s government was, without question, responsible for the laws that prevented these passengers from immigrating peacefully and securely. For that, and for every regrettable consequence that followed, we are sorry,” Trudeau said. –PTI