Main Container

Prime Minister Crest

Statement by the Prime Minister in remembrance of the Komagata Maru incident

Main Content

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

“One hundred and ten years ago, the steamship Komagata Maru docked in Vancouver’s harbour after a long journey across the Pacific Ocean. Aboard the ship, 376 people – Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus of Punjabi origin – were ready to start a new life in Canada. But instead of being welcomed as newcomers, they were refused entry by Canada. They were detained for two harrowing months without food, water, or medical care. Ultimately, the Komagata Maru was forced to return to India where many of its passengers were killed or imprisoned.

“This tragic incident is a dark chapter in our country’s history. The deplorable treatment of those on board was reflected in Canada’s racist and discriminatory laws of the time. Eight years ago, I apologized on behalf of the Government of Canada for what happened to the passengers of the Komagata Maru. We must never allow this event to repeat itself, and on this day of remembrance, we reflect on the importance of promoting diversity and treating everyone with respect and dignity.

“In the years since this tragedy, we have come a long way as a country to build a more inclusive, welcoming society for people of all backgrounds. And through initiatives like our Anti-Racism Strategy, we are removing barriers, so that everyone in Canada can reach their full potential.

“Today, we remember and honour the lives lost in the Komagata Maru incident. As we pay tribute to the victims, I encourage all Canadians to learn more about the invaluable contributions that members of the South Asian community have made, and continue to make, to Canada. Let’s keep working together to build a better, fairer, and more inclusive country for everyone.”