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Statement by the Prime Minister on the anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident

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The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident:

“One hundred and five years ago today, the Komagata Maru steamship arrived in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet. On board were 376 Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus of South Asian origin hoping to settle in Canada and build a better life for themselves and their families.

“Few of them ever set foot on Canadian soil. Immigration officials, enforcing discriminatory laws of the time, did not allow the ship to dock. For two months, passengers were confined to the ship and denied regular access to food and water. The Canadian government of the day eventually forced the Komagata Maru to return to India, where some were killed and many others imprisoned.

“Three years ago, I stood in the House of Commons to apologize on behalf of the Government of Canada to all those whose lives were changed by this tragic event. While we cannot erase their pain and suffering, we can learn from this dark chapter in our history – and instead, choose the path of compassion and open our arms to those in need.

“Today, as we remember the victims of the Komagata Maru tragedy and their descendents, let’s also honour the invaluable contributions the South Asian community has made, and continues to make, to Canada. Diversity is our greatest strength, and one of the building blocks of a better, more prosperous country for everyone.”