Current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that he will be offering a full apology in the House of Commons on May 18, 2016 for the infamous Komagata Maru incident that took place in 1914. This is coming to us almost 102 years after the incident took place, in which the government at the time turned away more than 300 Indians that were looking for a better life in Canada.
The Komagata Maru was a Japanese steamship which had been carrying approximately 376 British subjects from India, predominately Sikhs, and had arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. Officials at the time only allowed a small group to exit the ship, while the others we’re to stay on board. Two months later, the ship had returned to India, but British India police were not happy about this and had then shot 19 passengers on the ship.
About 8 years ago in 2008, then Prime Minister Stephen Harper had issued an apology to the Sikh community residing in Surrey, B.C. but many were not satisfied with just that and wished for a more formal apology to take place in the Commons. This wish will now come true next month, as Harper announced on Monday in Ottawa as he stated “As a nation, we should never forget the prejudice suffered by the Sikh community at the hands of the Canadian government of the day. We should not and we will not,” while furthermore explaining “that is why, next month, on May 18th, I will stand in the House of Commons and offer a full apology for the Komagata Maru incident.”
While there have since been laws in place to ensure an incident like this cannot take place again, Trudeau has shared his opinions on the Canadian government at the time as discriminatory or turning away the Komagata Maru.
Trudeau has made it clear that he supports the Indian population within Canada, and will do whatever it takes to make sure they are aware of that.