Statement by Minister Joly on the Komagata Maru

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, marks the anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident

OTTAWA, May 23, 2017 /CNW/ - On May 23, 1914, the Komagata Maru steamship arrived in Vancouver's Burrard Inlet with 376 passengers, mostly Punjabi Sikhs, who had the hope of making Canada their new home. Because of immigration policies at the time, the vast majority of the passengers were refused entry and detained on board. Following a two-month standoff between immigration officials and the passengers, the ship was forced to return to India, where some of them were killed and many others imprisoned.

In 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a formal apology in the House of Commons for the Government of Canada's role in the Komagata Maru incident, acknowledging the pain and suffering of the victims, and drawing attention to the cruel, discriminatory laws that prevented these passengers from immigrating peacefully and securely.

As we celebrate Canada 150, we must also remember this dark chapter in Canadian history and the tragedy that can result from prejudice and intolerance. Let the memory of the Komagata Maru reignite our commitment to fighting discrimination, wherever it is encountered, and remind us that Canada is made stronger by our diversity and spirit of openness.

SOURCE Canadian Heritage

For further information: (media only), please contact: Pierre-Olivier Hebert, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, 819-997-7788

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