The city of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, has announced that it will name a road after the Komagata Maru incident to commemorate the tragic event in the early 20th century. The incident began in May of 1914 when a chartered passenger steamship carrying nearly 400 Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus from India to Canada was refused entry at the port of Vancouver. The deadline of the two-month journey had expired and Canadian immigration authorities used that as justification to turn the ship away and declare the passengers “prohibited immigrants.” Canada’s accepting only those immigrants with a continuous journey from the country of origin at the time was deemed a racist exclusionary policy.
In October of 2020, the city had renamed a street just north of Vancouver harbour, Marine Drive, to Komagata Maru Way. Vancouver became the first city in Canada to officially commemorate the incident with the street name. The announcement received praise from the Sikh community, who were overjoyed at the recognition of their history.
Komagata Maru Way serves as an important reminder of a past wrong and symbol of the inclusivity and acceptance of Canada today. The street celebrates the resilience of the Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims on the boat as well as the ongoing struggle for justice among minority groups. Every year on May 23rd, Vancouver also commemorates the Komagata Maru tragedy at the Vancouver Harbour with speakers, music, and poetry.