Is there value in saying sorry for an historic wrong?
This week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized in the House of Commons on the behalf of the Government of Canada for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident. There's more than a bit of irony here, because apologizing for historical wrongs is something Justin Trudeau's father, Pierre Trudeau, refused to do as prime minister.
MORE FROM THIS EPISODE
- CALLER: Residential school survivors and the impact of an apology
- CALLER: Komagata Maru apology unnecessary as officials were upholding the law of the time: Checkup caller
Despite that, there are in Canada today many descendants of the people who were turned away on the Komagata Maru and those people still feel the sting of that discrimination and rejection. It has been a stain on their adopted country's history, and they're applauding the formal recognition by Prime Minister Trudeau this week.
But history is full of incidents and periods for which people with the sensibilities of today can be ashamed. What is the value of such an apology? Does it highlight despicable behaviour that we ought not to forget? Or is it a distraction from the challenges that face us today? Is it something that lets us all move forward with a clearer sense of what is right, or as some say, has it become a convenient political strategy because there are so many things done throughout history that later generations come to reject?
Sukhi Ghuman's great grandfather, Harnam Singh Sohi, was on board the Komagata Maru.
Nimrat Randhawa is the great-great granddaughter of Gurdit Singh, who commissioned the Komagata Maru.
Ujjal Dosanjh is a former NDP premier of British Columbia, and a former federal Liberal cabinet minister.
Patrick Anderson teaches politics and world religions in Toronto.
- With our apologies: Canada makes 'I'm sorry' a recurring policy
- Justin Trudeau apologizes in House for 1914 Komagata Maru incident
- Komagata Maru apology: Ship's story represents 'dark chapter' of Canada's past
- GTA filmmaker says formal apology for Komagata Maru incident long overdue
- Reflecting on the Komagata Maru apology
- Ottawa issues head tax redress payments to Chinese Canadians
The Globe and Mail
- Truth and Reconciliation (2): First apologize, then act
- Italians seek new apology from Canada for wartime internments
- A Sorry State" Canada is becoming a world leader in official apologies. Do they benefit anyone but the people offering them up?
- Prof hopes Komagata Maru apology acknowledges Canada's former racist policies
- Komagata Maru apology resonates with families of rejected passengers