Komagata Maru memorial in Coal Harbour vandalized days before centennial

Published: May 22, 2014

The monument to the Komagata Maru along the seawall near Convention Centre West in Vancouver, B.C. (pictured here at its unveiling in 2012) was vandalized for the second time in six months. Steve Bosch/PNG

VANCOUVER DESI

Just days before the centennial was marked Friday, the Komagata Maru memorial in Coal Harbour was vandalized – for the second time in less than six months.

According to Aaron Jasper with the Vancouver Parks Board, the graffiti was reported on May 12, but a removal team was quickly sent in and had the monument cleaned by May 14 – just in time for Friday’s memorial. However, in the cleaning process some of the monument’s rusted colour was removed, but Jasper was told the colour should restore itself within a year or so.

“It’s the second time this monument has been vandalized and it’s unfortunate, but I think part of the rational of the location is that it was a very visible location,” said Jasper, adding that the parks board doesn’t have the capacity to monitor the sites across the city. “But we are asking folks to help be our eyes and ears and if they do see suspicious behaviour on any of our public pieces, you know, to pick up the phone, call 911 and report any thing they see.”

The memorial, created in partnership with the Khalsa Diwan Society, was previously defaced when a man was photographed urinating on it in December.

Some of those within the South Asian community view the centennial, alongside the recent vandalism, as a sign that although the community has progressed in North America since the early 1900s, there is still room for improvement with regards to racism and immigration policy in Canada.

“When a monument or memorial is desecrated it still means that there is important things to be done ,” said Naveen Girn, who has curated a number of exhibitions on the Komagata Maru in local museums.

A memorial for the centennial was held Friday at 12:30 p.m. by the Coal Harbour monument and a candlelight vigil will be held Friday evening at 7: 00 p.m. Commemorative exhibits are also running through the summer at the Surrey Art Gallery (until June 15) and another at the Vancouver Maritime Museum (until June 8).

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