City councillor wants the Komagata Maru to be further memorialized

Mar 7 2019, 8:26 pm

One city councillor is calling on the municipal government to name a civic asset after the Komagata Maru as another reminder of the incident.

COPE councillor Jean Swanson has prepared a motion to have city staff identify options to name a civic asset in downtown near the Burrard Inlet waterfront after the Komagata Maru. As well, staff would work with the descendants of the Komagata Maru Society to try to find an asset to name before May 23, 2019, the 105th anniversary of the incident on the Central Waterfront.

“Naming a civic asset after the Komagata Maru can be a long term reminder that Vancouver does not condone the racism that prevented the Komagata Maru from docking with its passengers in Vancouver,” wrote Swanson.

In 1914, the Komagata Maru, a Japanese vessel, carrying 376 passengers from British India and Punjab sailed from Hong Kong to Vancouver harbour. All of the passengers were British subjects emigrating to Canada, but the vast majority of the passengers were unable to enter the country and the ship was forced to return to India after being anchored in an area just off present-day Canada Place for two months.

Upon the ship’s return to Calcutta, the Indian Imperial Police suspected the vessel contained radicals and rebels that could threaten the British Raj. A riot ensued after the ship docked, and 19 passengers were killed in shots fired by the police.

In 2012, a significant memorial for the victims of the Komagata Maru was built on the waterfront at Harbour Green Park, just west of the Vancouver Convention Centre.

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