“Just over a hundred years ago, Canada turned away a group of more than 300 immigrants from India who arrived in Vancouver aboard the Japanese steamship, Komagata Maru. When they returned to India, 20 people were killed in a riot when police came to arrest the group leaders.
This was racism, plain and simple.
The ship was sent back — in the middle of a massive immigration wave — because Canadian leaders didn’t think the passengers were the “right” kind of immigrant.
And some, ultimately, paid with their lives.
While the people who lived through the Komagata Maru incident are no longer with us, the shameful impact remains.
The incident serves to remind us that any country — even our own — can fall prey to racism.
It reminds us that when we close our hearts to the needs of others, there can be tragic consequences.
It’s a reminder, ultimately, that we need to be vigilant — so that we don’t fall back into the mistrust, hatred and intolerance that characterizes too much of our history.
As Canadians, let us always aspire to be better than we were, and continue building a country that welcomes everyone, that includes everyone, and where everyone truly feels a sense of belonging.”