Komagata Maru descendants demand apology from Canada

Published: January 11, 2013

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

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

After the Punjab government acknowledged 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

weird news

Man finds five-foot-long crocodile in his bathroom

VANCOUVER DESI A family in Western India got the shock of their life when a five-foot-long crocodile was discovered in the shower of their family…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-politics-desi

Surrey councillor Barinder Rasode set to launch next phase of “summer engagement series”

VANCOUVER DESI As she gears up for the upcoming Surrey election this fall, city councillor Barinder Rasode is launching the next phase of her “summer…
Continue Reading »

PicMonkey Collage

Indian Super League signing up ex-English premiership stars (w/ photos)

PATRICK JOHNSTON VANCOUVER DESI Arsenal fans, want to recapture some former glory? Time to travel to India – Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg are taking…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Surrey-politics-desi

Surrey councillor Barinder Rasode set to launch next phase of “summer engagement series”

VANCOUVER DESI As she gears up for the upcoming Surrey election this fall, city councillor Barinder Rasode is launching the next phase of her “summer…
Continue Reading »

Victoria film shooting BC

Bollywood’s Jimmy Shergill, Surveen Chawla shoot latest romantic flick ‘Rab Rakha’ in Victoria

MICHAEL D. REID TIMES COLONIST There was love in the air, Bollywood-style, in Bastion Square Tuesday — and not just the romance radiating from two…
Continue Reading »

Surrey

Surrey RCMP continue hunt for hit-and-run driver who struck a Sikh temple volunteer

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW SURREY —  Surrey Mounties are still looking for the driver who ran down a Sikh temple volunteer in Newton last fall….
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

India-rape-protest

Minor allegedly raped by temple priest in southern India

HINDUSTAN TIMES An 11-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a temple priest in Bangalore on Tuesday, less than a month after a seven-year-old was raped…
Continue Reading »

10448541_801823293184201_5325323972611294529_desi

Miss Diva 2014 gears up for auditions

IANS New Delhi – Miss Diva, that was launched last year as an official franchise from India for Miss Universe, is set to start auditions…
Continue Reading »

child death

Toddler falls into pot of boiling syrup, dies

  IANS New Delhi – A three-year-old boy died after he fell into a pot of boiling sugar syrup, police said here Wednesday. The child,…
Continue Reading »

asdlkfjdal

‘I don’t get turned down by girls:’ Calgary man jailed after stalking university classmate

DARYL SLADE CALGARY HERALD A man who became infatuated with a woman in his university class last year then repeatedly stalked her has been jailed….
Continue Reading »

india flag2

Sporting fans disappointed as Indian flag depicted upside down in Commonwealth Games promotional video

VANCOUVER DESI India is already making headlines as the Commonwealth Games officially kick off in Glasgow – but not for sporting-related reasons. In an official…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Victoria film shooting BC

Bollywood’s Jimmy Shergill, Surveen Chawla shoot latest romantic flick ‘Rab Rakha’ in Victoria

MICHAEL D. REID TIMES COLONIST There was love in the air, Bollywood-style, in Bastion Square Tuesday — and not just the romance radiating from two…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood-Sonam Kapoor

I was obsessed with Salman Khan: Sonam Kapoor (w/gallery)

HINDUSTAN TIMES Sonam Kapoor may be a star in her own right now, but she doesn’t shy away from revealing that, as a kid, she…
Continue Reading »

Aamir Khan Katrina Kaif

Bollywood superhit ‘Dhoom: 3′ enters Chinese top 10 chart (w/gallery)

IANS Mumbai – Bollywood super hit “Dhoom: 3″, which reportedly opened on 2,000 screens in 400 Chinese cities, has entered the Chinese top ten chart….
Continue Reading »