Komagata Maru memorial approved for Vancouver
Posted: Mar 1, 2011 11:40 AM PT
Last Updated: Mar 1, 2011 11:40 AM PT
The Vancouver Park Board has approved a monument at Harbour Green Park in Coal Harbour that will commemorate a dark period in the city's history.
The site is close to where a ship called the Komagata Maru tied up in 1914 with 376 aspiring South Asian immigrants on board.
The ship's passengers spent two months docked in Coal Harbour surviving on donated food and water because of a public outcry against their arrival.
The Dominion government would not allow the passengers to disembark and they were finally denied entry into Canada. The boat sailed back to Calcutta where it was met by police. Twenty people were killed as they disembarked while others were jailed.
The monument to the Komagata Maru will be a replica of the ship and will include the names of all the passengers, as well as photographs and a descriptive plaque.
Senior Khalsa Diwan Society President Kesar Bhatti says the monument will serve to educate the Canadian public and the South Asian community about how far they've come. Many of those aboard the Komagata Maru were Sikhs.
"I have lived here for 60 years and I'm as loyal a Canadian as you'll find anywhere. So this is more educational and its structure will be there as a monument," said Bhatti.
Federal apology comes with funding
In December Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney pledged $82,500 to Vancouver's Khalsa Diwan Society to work with the Vancouver Parks Board for a monument to commemorate the incident.
The organization will also receive $104,000 to develop the first phase of a museum dedicated to the Komagata Maru. The museum, located on the grounds of the Khalsa Diwan Society in Vancouver, will also be accessible to the public.
In 2008 Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially apologized for the incident in front of a large crowd in Surrey, B.C., the home of many of B.C.'s Indo-Canadian residents.
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