After 94 years, the B.C. legislature unanimously passed a motion Friday apologizing for the Komagata Maru incident.
On May 23, 1914, the Japanese charter ship Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver harbour with 376 immigrants from India. Canadian immigration officials refused to let the passengers disembark, using the continuous journey regulation which required migrants to arrive in Canada directly from their country of origin.
The ship was forced to anchor in the harbour, where it stayed for two months before finally returning to Calcutta, with all but 22 of the original passengers aboard. A riot broke out upon the ship's return to India, in which 20 passengers were killed.
"This house deeply regrets that the passengers who sought refuge were turned away," said Liberal House Leader Mike de Jong.
The people aboard the Komagata Maru were pursuing dreams of a new life in Canada, but they arrived only to encounter racism, said Attorney General Wally Oppal.
"Elected officials, members of the media and the public collectively fanned the flames of hatred. The cry of the day was that Canada was a white man's country," Oppal said.
The move comes just one week after the House of Commons passed a similar motion.