Ceremony recalls arrival of Indian ship
BY GLENDA LUYMES
A ceremony today will mark the 93rd anniversary of the arrival of the Komagata Maru in Burrard Inlet - as calls for a government apology over the incident grow louder.
The Indian ship entered Vancouver waters on May 23,1914 carrying 376 men, women and children. For two months, the passengers were forbidden to disembark, living on board like prisoners until the boat was forced to leave Canadian waters. On its return to India, a riot ensued and 20 people were shot dead.
Jaswinder Toor's grandfather was on the ship.
"I remember I was 10 years old, at a family gathering, and he told the story," the Surrey man said yesterday. "He
was coming to Canada as a student. They were British subjects and they thought it was their right."
Toor's grandfather was thrown in jail when he returned to India. He never came to Canada again.
Toor immigrated here in 1976.
"Canada has changed for the better," he said. "But still, I think an apology is necessary."
In a speech in August, Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged the incident and promised to consult with the Indo-Canadi-an community on a response. But a recent report written by Con-servative MP Jim Abbott that concluded "there was no consen¬sus or agreement on this issue" appears to have ruled out a formal apology.
Harbhajan Gill, founder and president
of the Komagata Maru Heritage Foundation, said the Indo-Canadian community is united in its desire for an apology.
"We can raise money and we can remember what happened, but one thing we cannot do ourselves is get an apology," he said. "That is up to the government."
Gill's foundation recently purchased the
102-year-old Sea Lion, B.C.'s oldest tugboat, for $752,000. After repairs, the tug, used to detain and then chase away the Komagata Maru, will be on display at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
• The ceremony takes place at the Lumberman's Arch in Stanley Park today at 1 p.m. gluymes@ png.canwest.com