Komagata Maru Memorial on Flickr.
Last week a new memorial in Harbour Green was dedicated to the Komagata Maru Incident, one of Canada’s more shameful moments in history.
In 1914, a ship (the Komagata Maru) arrived from India via Hong Kong, Shanghai and Yokohama, Japan carrying 356 Indian Nationals, mostly Sikhs, looking to settle in Canada. Canada invoked the then standing ‘continuous passage’ law which required immigrants to have travelled continuously from their home country to Canada, something not really possible at the time from India and China given the distances involved.
Interestingly, the immigration officer to first meet the ship in Vancouver was local hockey legend Fred “Cyclone” Taylor, the Wayne Gretzky of his day who, despite being the best paid hockey player in Canada at the time, worked as an immigration officer in the off season.
Eventually, only 20 passengers were admitted to Canada with the rest being sent back to India. Upon arrival in India, they were immediately detained by the British, 19 were killed in the Budge Budge riots, some were sent back to their villages and many were imprisoned until the first world war ended.
According to wikipedia, a plaque commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Kimagata Maru incident was placed ‘in Vancouver Harbour’ in 1994. I’ve not seen this and do not know if it remains or not.