Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is applauded as he formally apologizes for a 1914 government decision that barred most of the passengers of the Komagata Maru from entering Canada, in the House of Commons on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)
"Those passengers chose Canada. And when they arrived here, they were rejected."
"Just as we apologize for past wrongs, so too must we commit ourselves to positive action - to learning from the mistakes of the past, and to making sure that we never repeat them."I apologize, first and foremost, to the victims of the incident. No words can fully erase the pain and suffering they experienced. Regrettably, the passage of time means that none are alive to hear our apology today. Still, we offer it, fully and sincerely. For our indifference to your plight. For our failure to recognize all that you had to offer. For the laws that discriminated against you, so senselessly. And for not formally apologizing sooner. For all these things, we are truly sorry. I also wish to apologize to the descendants of the passengers of the Komagata Maru, including those who are here with us here today. We can never know what your lives would have been like had your relatives been welcomed to Canada.
"The very makeup of this House should remind all of us that when we have the choice between opening our arms to those in need or closing our hearts to them, we must always choose the more compassionate path."
Special praise for Harjit SajjanMr. Speaker, before I finish, I would like to acknowledge one more member who has helped to bring the Komagata Maru incident to our national attention - the minister of national defence. Before entering political life, the Minister was the commanding officer of the British Columbia Regiment Duke of Connaught's Own — the same regiment that once forced out the Komagata Maru. A century ago, the minister's family might well have been turned away from Canada. Today, the minister sits beside us, here, in this House. In a House that includes immigrants. That includes the daughters and sons — the granddaughters and grandsons — of immigrants. The very makeup of this House should remind all of us that when we have the choice between opening our arms to those in need or closing our hearts to them, we must always choose the more compassionate path. When we see injustice, we must speak up, and attempt to make things right. When we make mistakes, we must apologize, and recommit ourselves to doing better. Mr. Speaker, Canada is a country unlike any other. We are blessed to call it home. Let us always endeavour to do better, and to be better. Let us do that in honour of the victims of the Komagata Maru incident, and every courageous person who leaves behind family and familiar things, to bring to Canada the very best of who they are. Thank you.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: