Passengers aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914 (Photo: Library and Archives Canada image)

Passengers aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914 (Photo: Library and Archives Canada image)

Descendants of Komagata Maru Society looks to have Surrey street renamed

Surrey heritage commission suggest other options such as memorial

The Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society is hoping to have a street in Surrey renamed to honour the passengers of the boats, but the Surrey heritage committee has suggested at looking at other options.

Raj Toor presented to the city’s Heritage Advisory Commission on Wednesday (Jan. 9) to request “the commission consider supporting the naming of a Surrey street in memory of the passengers of the Komagata Maru.”

“Their struggles and sacrifice should be recognized. We cannot undo the past, but we can move forward,” he said.

Toor told the Now-Leader before the meeting that renaming a street in honour of the Komagata Maru is not just for the families, adding the history of the Komagata Maru is “a South Asian community issue” and a part of Canadian history.

Toor, whose grandfather came to Canada on the Komagata Maru, said he thought Surrey would be a good fit to memorialize the passengers because the city has such a large South Asian community.

READ ALSO: LETTER: Thank you, prime minister, for the Komagata Maru apology

Initially, he said, he thought of 128th Street being renamed, possibly between 72nd and 88th avenues.

Penny Priddy, member of the heritage commission, asked Toor if it had to be a street name.

Toor said he and other familied want it to be a street, “but if there’s other options… that will be fine too.”

When asked about the memorial already in place in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour, Toor said, “The majority of the South Asian community is living in Surrey.”

Commissioner Lesley Tannen suggested a memorial which would allow people to congregate.

Priddy recommended to Toor that he meet with city staff and go over the street-naming policies, while also exploring what other options might be available. Toor agreed to the recommendation.

Following the meeting, Toor said he’s left the options open tot he commission and to staff.

As for a memorial, Toor said he hasn’t thought about where or what it could be since families would still prefer to have a street renamed.

How will he feel if he achieves his goal, and Surrey goes ahead?

“I will be very happy,” he said. “During the Komagata Maru, people suffered a lot. If the city could recognize them, their families, they will be very happy. Not only the families, but the whole South Asian community is going to be happy. All of Canada, all human, should be treated with respect. It’s Canadian history. All the Canadians will be happy.”

The Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver from Hong Kong on May 23, 1914, carrying 376 passengers, according to komagatamarujourney.ca. Most of the passengers were immigrants from the Punjab region in what was then British India.

The hundreds of passengers, according to thecanadianencyclopedia.ca, were not allowed on shore. For two months, they remained in the waters outside of Vancouver.

“A long confrontation ensued with the passengers resisting immigration department efforts to make them to leave voluntarily,” reads the website. “These efforts included limiting their communications with the outside world, blocking their attempts to take their case to a Canadian court, refusing to supply the ship with food and water except when conditions became desperate; and, at one point after a continuing standoff, attempting to take control of the ship by force with a police boarding party.”

At the time, according to the thecanadianencyclopedia.ca, the Continuous Passage regulation was in effect which meant immigration officers could “block the entry of anyone who came to Canada other than by continuous journey from their home country. Another regulation, the website adds, was that immigration officer could turn back “any Asians who arrived with less than $200, a very large sum in 1914.”

The passengers were eventually forced to return to India, but upon their return, some of the passengers were shot and killed “in an encounter with British Indian police,” according to the canadianencyclopedia.ca.

Toor and his brother travelled to Ottawa in 2016 to attend the federal government’s official apology for the 1914 incident. following former-prime minister Stephen Harper’s apology in Surrey in 2008 which wasn’t as well receieved. The Government of B.C. also passed a motion apologizing to the passengers of the Komagata Maru, according to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

There is also a Komagata Maru memorial in Coal Harbour.

with files from Amy Reid

READ ALSO: Formal apology coming for Komagata Maru kin, April 14, 2016



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

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

 

Raj Toor, a descendant of a Komagata Maru passenger, poses with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after a formal apology for the incident was delivered in the House of Commons in 2016. (Photo: Black Press file)

Raj Toor, a descendant of a Komagata Maru passenger, poses with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after a formal apology for the incident was delivered in the House of Commons in 2016. (Photo: Black Press file)

Just Posted

Surrey Fire Service at a garage fire in the 14400-block of 82A Ave on March 22, 2021. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
‘Perfect storm’ of variants, increasing COVID cases are concerning for Surrey fire chief

Between police and fire, Larry Thomas said there are 8 confirmed cases, 18 others isolating

Surrey Fire Service is on scene of a fire in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue Saturday morning (April 10). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews on scene of house fire

It happened in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Small plane crashes at Delta’s Boundary Bay Airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

Signage on a South Surrey sidewalk reminds pedestrians to respect social-distancing guidelines. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey records 4,400 COVID-19 cases in March

New cases almost doubled between February, March

Surrey RCMP are looking for these two men after a bank in the 12800-block of 96th Avenue was robbed on March 12. (Images: Surrey RCMP)
Police release images of two men suspected of robbing Surrey bank

Robbery happened on March 12 at bank in 12800-block of 96th Avenue

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Most Read