Passengers aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914 - Library and Archives Canada image

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

British Columbia’s premier is paying tribute to nearly 400 South Asians who were forced to leave Canada due to discriminatory policies more than a century ago.

John Horgan says racism faced by the Sikh, Muslim and Hindu men who arrived at Vancouver’s harbour aboard the Komagata Maru on May 23, 1914, hurt generations of people.

Horgan says in a statement that when he looks out the window of his Vancouver office, he can see the exact spot where the ship was moored for two months as those aboard endured cruel conditions.

Federal laws banned immigration of South Asians and the vessel had to return to India.

Horgan says the anniversary of the ship’s arrival in B.C. makes him wonder how the students, labourers and ex-soldiers from the British Indian regiment aboard would have enriched Canada if given the opportunity to stay in the province.

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy.

Horgan has spoken out against racism toward Asians during the pandemic and says in the statement that it has “tarnished” the community’s response to COVID-19.

“People have been attacked and assaulted. Racism has no place in our province. We must stand firm against hate and learn from our past as we build a better, more inclusive future,” he says.

Vancouver police said this week that the number of anti-Asian racism cases since March has jumped markedly compared with the same period last year.

Police say they have opened 29 cases since B.C. declared a state of emergency over the pandemic, compared with only four cases of racism in 2019. The first case of COVID-19 was found in China.

READ MORE: Surrey to rename street to commemorate Komagata Maru victims

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

COSAR and Kelowna RCMP rescue couple lost at James Lake

The rescue occurred Saturday, July 11

QUIZ: Are you ready for a summer road trip?

How much do you really know about roads, motor vehicles and car culture? Take this quiz to find out.

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Okanagan sisters-in-law sleep out successful

Kiley Routley and Heidi Routley raise nearly $2,400 and awareness for youth homelessness

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

COVID-19: Homeless to be relocated from temporary Okanagan shelter

Homeless shelters in Vernon have been combined into one site at the curling rink since April

Dozens of fish die at popular lake near Chase

A few natural phenomena are possible causes for their deaths.

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Most Read