Vancouver to erect monument to Komagata Maru racism incident

Posted by admin on Dec 2nd, 2010

By Jeff Lee, The Vancouver Sun,  2 Dec 2010

One of the most odious incidents in Vancouver’s history, the Komagata Maru incident, is about to get memorialized by the Vancouver Park Board. For those who aren’t familiar with the incident, it involved the arrest in 1914 of a ship in Vancouver Harbour that arrived with more than 300 passengers of maily East Indian descent. The fine (white) city folks and the government of the day refused to let the passengers land and some many days later, after being cooped up on the ship, the passengers “voluntarily” returned to India. It is, to my mind, one of the pathetic low points in our city’s history, ranking down there with the forced internment of Canadians of Japanese descent during the Second World War and the head tax on Chinese labourers.

Now, through the lens of history we understand these incidents to be racist in nature and we’ve apologized or them.

This press release just came over from the park board noting that the city wants comments on two proposed sites for a monument memorializing the Komagata Maru incident. What do you think?

The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation is inviting public comments on two potential park sites for a monument to the Komagata Maru incident. This incident involved a group of over 300 ship passengers of mainly East Indian descent who were denied entry into Canada at Vancouver in 1914.

Two potential sites have been selected due to their proximity to where the Komagata Maru was anchored. These sites are Harbour Green Park and Stanley Park near Brocton Oval. Maps of the potential sites as well as background information on the historical event can be found at

The Park Board was approached by the Khalsa Diwan Society on the monument project, which is funded through the federal Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP). The program provides funding for community-based commemorative and educational projects that recognize the experiences of ethno-cultural communities affected by historical immigration policies applied in the past across Canada.

The initial phase of the project will determine a location for a monument to commemorate this incident. Future phases of consultation will include an open house to share and receive comments on the monument designs.

Comments must be received by January 3, 2011 and can be sent by email to or by mail to Vancouver Park Board, 2099 Beach Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6G 1Z4.

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