A heritage museum in Canada has organised a year-long exhibition to commemorate 100 years of the 1914 Komagata Maru incident during which 352 Punjabi immigrants on a ship from India were denied entry to the country.
The exhibition at Abbotsford’s Sikh Heritage Museum will highlight the stories of the passengers who were forced out of Canada.
“It’s a dark moment in the history of South Asian migration to British Columbia,” said Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, co-ordinator at the University of Fraser Valley’s Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies.
The Komagata Maru Centennial Exhibition starting on January 30 will narrate the series of events that occurred after a Japanese chartered ship led by Sikh entrepreneur Gurdit Singh, who hoped to bring 376 Punjabi immigrants to Canada, docked in Vancouver.
The ship named Komagata Maru was docked in the harbour for more than two months and the event is now known as one of the most infamous incidents in the early history of the city, the Province newspaper reported.
Only about 20 passengers were eventually able to prove residency and allowed to disembark before the ship was forced back to India on July 23, 1914.
“It’s about learning history through different methods, through different means and what better way than a museum,” Sandhra said.
“It highlights a dark moment in Canadian history, it highlights an injustice that happened to our community.
“It also reflects on it and looks at all that’s changed and looks at what things can still be improved after those 100 years… There’s no denying that there’s still racism in our society.