Trudeau to offer apology in House of Commons for 1914 Komagata Maru incident

Prime Minister to apologize next month for hundreds of Sikhs being denied entry to Canada 102 years ago

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will offer a full apology in the House of Commons next month for a decision by the government in 1914 to turn away a ship carrying hundreds of South Asian immigrants.

The apology for the Komagata Maru incident will be delivered on May 18, nearly 102 years after the ship from Hong Kong arrived off Vancouver only to have almost all of its 376 passengers — nearly all Sikhs — denied entry due to the immigration laws at the time.

The ship was eventually sent to Calcutta and least 19 people were killed in an ensuing skirmish with British soldiers, while others were jailed.

“We failed them utterly,” Trudeau told a packed room Monday on Parliament Hill at a celebration marking the Sikh holiday of Vaisakhi.

“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, we will not.”

Former prime minister Stephen Harper apologized for the incident in 2008 at an event in B.C., but members of Canada’s Sikh community have long said an apology should be offered formally in Parliament.

The Liberals have been calling since 2008 for an apology in the Commons and Trudeau repeated that pledge during the election campaign.

Trudeau said Monday while an apology will not ease the pain and suffering of those who lived through the experience, it is the right thing to do and the House of Commons the right place for it to be delivered.

“It was in the House of Commons that the law that prevented the passengers from disembarking were first passed and so it is fitting that the government should apologize there on behalf of all Canadians.”

There are 17 Sikh members of Parliament, including Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

Prior to being elected, Sajjan was the commanding officer of the B.C. military regiment Duke of Connaught’s Own, which over a century ago had been involved in the government’s efforts to turn back the ship.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

More than 1,000 Surrey rental units at risk if government imposes new policy, Urban Development Institute warns

Survey of 30 rental unit builders indicates 12,631 BC rental homes at risk of delay or cancellation

Peace Arch Hospital Foundation hits $10-million goal

New 200-bed residential facility now fully funded, officials announce

‘Is that the real colour?’: Council approves Cloverdale field house design after initial hesitation

Cloverdale Athletic Park’s new field house was designed to look like a red barn

Police renew call to ID suspect who pushed Surrey man into traffic near PNE

VPD haven’t received enough tips in the months since

Filipino Fest at Museum of Surrey draws a crowd

More than 1,500 residents, visitors attend cultural festival

VIDEO: E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce sickens 18 people in Ontario, Quebec

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it’s working with U.S. authorities to determine the source of the romaine lettuce those who got ill were exposed to.

Lower Mainland suspect identified in fatal northern B.C. hit and run

Suspect and seven other individuals believed involved located on Haida Gwaii

‘Bait and switch’ warning ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Competition Bureau of Canada is warning shoppers of illegal sale tactics

Legal battle ahead for suspended B.C. legislature executives

Public removal ‘very unfair,’ says veteran clerk Craig James

B.C. sees biggest spike in homicides across Canada, at 34%

Much of the killing was attributed to gang violence, according to Statistics Canada

Sea lion tangled in rope on Vancouver Island

Marine debris is a ‘significant problem’ for marine wildlife

Postal strike affects charities at critical fundraising time

Canadian fundraising professionals and charities join call for fast resolution

$90,000 pen from space created by B.C man

The Space pen is made from a meteorite

B.C. woman fined $2,300 for clocking 215 km/hr in Alberta

It’s the highest fine Alberta police have issued

Most Read