Komagata Maru descendants demand apology from Canada

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Crowded deck of the Komagata Maru in 1914. Submitted photo/Leonard Frank, Vancouver Public Library

After the Punjab government acknolwedged the “unsung heroes” of Komagata Maru, Indo-Canadians are at a loss as to why Canada refuses to do the same.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal announced in Chandigarh, India Thursday that those involved in India’s freedom struggle, including martyrs of the 1872 Kuka movement, Komagata Muru in 1914 and 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre, will be recognized and their families likely compensated.

“Coming from the Punjab government … it’s great news,” said Surrey resident Jaswinder Singh Toor whose grandfather was one of hundreds of Indians aboard the Japanese chartered ship en route to Vancouver. “(But) financial (compensation) is not that important for us, what is more important is the recognition.”

“All we’re asking for is an apology in (Canadian) Parliament.”

Toor’s grandfather was hoping for a better education in Canada until the ship was turned away from the Burrard Inlet May 23, 1914 and forced back to Calcutta where British forces fired on them, killing 22 people.

“It was terrible unhealthy conditions (onboard),” Toor told Vancouver Desi. “And more than 20 were killed and the majority of them, including my grandfather were put in the jail and (forced to work) hard labour (for years).”

When finally released, his grandfather devoted the “rest of his life” to the freedom movement, but was forever tainted from the experience.

“At that time there was a lot of racism and the community felt unwelcome,” Toor said. “My uncle asked my grandfather to come and join him (in Canada in 1969), my grandfather refused – he said that once that country humiliated him and his fellow passengers that he does not feel like going back.”

Surrey MP Jasbir Sandhu has been fighting for nearly 20 years for recognition in the House of Commons.

Sandhu labeled Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology to the Surrey community at a festival in Bear Creek Park in 2008 as “fake” and “clearly rejected by the community.”

Monument to the Komagata Maru was unveiled along the seawall near Convention Centre West in Vancouver, B.C., on July 23, 2012. Steve Bosch/PNG

“If he can (apologize) in a park well why not in the House of Commons?” asked Sandhu. “The community has signed a number of petitions over the years asking the federal government to officially and respectfully close this chapter so the healing process can begin of this terrible dark chapter in our history.”

“We need to recognize our past wrongs … this is about doing the right thing.”

Toor believes the South Asian community deserves an apology in the same way it was given to First Nations for residential schools and the Chinese community for the Chinese Head Tax.

“There’s more meaning for us in an apology in the House of Commons,” said Toor. “It is on record … it’s more coming from the heart.”

Not only would it recognize “the struggle and the pain,” but it would also serve as a lesson for the younger generations.

“They will be proud of their elders and their culture and how hard their fathers or grandfathers or great grandfathers had to fight for their rights,” he said.

lcahute@theprovince.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,





Featured

PNG0419NVAISAKHI-13_215499176

Gallery: 200,000 flood Surrey streets for annual Vaisakhi parade

VANCOUVER DESI About 200, 000 people came out for Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade on Saturday. Vaisakhi – which celebrates the Punjab harvest time and the…
Continue Reading »

kate main

Gallery: Duchess Catherine races to the rescue in heels on beachy Sydney tour

GORDON RAYNER THE DAILY TELEGRAPH RUNNING in slow-motion along a golden beach, the Duchess of Cambridge appeared to emulate one of the famous scenes from…
Continue Reading »

Kirpans, stylized swords worn by initiated Sikh men and women as dictated by  their religious beliefs, are now allowed in embassies. Jason Payne/ PNG

Canada to allow Sikh kirpans in its embassies and missions abroad

JEFF LACROIX-WILSON OTTAWA CITIZEN Eight years after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that kirpans – the ceremonial daggers worn by those of the Sikh…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

PNG0419NVAISAKHI-13_215499176

Gallery: 200,000 flood Surrey streets for annual Vaisakhi parade

VANCOUVER DESI About 200, 000 people came out for Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade on Saturday. Vaisakhi – which celebrates the Punjab harvest time and the…
Continue Reading »

Kirpans, stylized swords worn by initiated Sikh men and women as dictated by  their religious beliefs, are now allowed in embassies. Jason Payne/ PNG

Canada to allow Sikh kirpans in its embassies and missions abroad

JEFF LACROIX-WILSON OTTAWA CITIZEN Eight years after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that kirpans – the ceremonial daggers worn by those of the Sikh…
Continue Reading »

Inspector Paulette Freill, left announces at BC RCMP Headquarters in Surrey Thursday April 17, 2014 a 35 year-old Dutch citizen was charged with several criminal offence in connection to the 2012 death of teen Amanda Todd. Amanda's parents Carol, center and Norman Todd, right attended the announcement. Ric Ernst / PNG

Charges laid against Dutch man in Amanda Todd online extortion case

ELAINE O’CONNOR and STEPHANIE IP VANCOUVER DESI Five charges — including harassment and Internet luring — have been laid against Aydin Coban, a Dutch national,…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

File photo: Indian villagers gather near the body of an elephant in a field in the northeastern state of Assam on July 8, 2013. It is believed that the elephant was electrocuted by power lines as they walked through fields of growing rice at night . STRSTRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Four elephants die from shoddy electrical wires in Indian forest

VANCOUVER DESI A wild elephant has died after it was electrocuted when it stumbled into low hanging electrical wires in a northeastern Indian forest, according…
Continue Reading »

Indian Lovers Party

Gallery: Weird Indian political party names and symbols

VANCOUVER DESI In a country with over 800 million eligible voters, which symbol you vote for is very important. The largest political parties have simple…
Continue Reading »

worship-India

Six-year-old worshipped for patch of hair on his back that has grown into a tail

VANCOUVER DESI A six-year-old Indian boy is being worshipped by villagers for a small patch of hair on his back that has grown into a…
Continue Reading »

underage-sex-pregnancy-Britain

Opinion: Britain’s youngest mom — 12-year-old — isn’t a case for the midwife, it’s a case for the police

ALLISON PEARSON THE DAILY TELEGRAPH  A girl aged 12 years and three months became Britain’s youngest mother over the weekend. She was still at primary…
Continue Reading »

nude bath

PETA India urges health ministry to ban sale of animal-tested products

IANS New Delhi – Animal rights group PETA has urged India’s health ministry to ban the marketing and sale of animal-tested cosmetics and household products….
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Porn Queen-desi

Sunny Leone to host MTV reality dating show

IANS New Delhi — Indo-Canadian adult film star Sunny Leone is back to where she started her career in Hindi showbiz – the small screen….
Continue Reading »

Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra showcases a creation by designer Neeta Lulla on the sixth day of the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) summer/resort 2014 in Mumbai on March 16, 2014. STRSTRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Mary Kom shoot harder than hardest for Priyanka

IANS Mumbai  – Months of turmoil for Mary Kom have been “harder than the hardest” for Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, who plays the title role…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Amitabh Bachchan’s Bhoothnath Returns screened before Indian president

IANS New Delhi  – Megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s latest film Bhoothnath Returns, a fun-filled film which also highlights the importance of voting, was screened for President…
Continue Reading »