Seeking to reach out to the Sikh community, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a formal statement of apology in the Canadian House of Commons for the Komagata Maru incident on May 18.
The Komagata Maru incident that took place on May 23, 1914 resulted in a steamship arriving in Vancouver carrying 376 passengers who hoped to migrate to Canada. Following a long journey from India, the majority of the passengers were denied entry into Canada due to the laws in existence at the time.
Delivering a formal apology in front of descendants of those who were directly affected by the incident, Mr Trudeau emphasised that Canada’s rich diversity is a source of strength for the country. He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to upholding the values including multiculturalism that is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“Today – while knowing that no words can fully erase the pain and suffering experienced by the passengers – I offer a sincere apology on behalf of the Government of Canada for the laws in force at the time that allowed Canada to be indifferent to the plight of the passengers of the Komagata Maru,” Mr Trudeau said.
“The Komagata Maru incident is a stain on Canada’s past. But the history of our country is one in which we constantly challenge ourselves, and each other, to extend our personal definitions of who is a Canadian. We have learned, and will continue to learn, from the mistakes of our past. We must make sure to never repeat them,” said Mr Trudeau.
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