Is an historical apology meaningless if those who were wronged are no longer around to receive it? In the case of the Komagata Maru, the passengers, politicians, immigration officials, and crew have all passed away. Yet, what does remain is the injustice.
Naveen Girn is a cultural researcher and community engagement specialist whose interests centre on Vancouver's South Asian community, intercultural oral history and curation. Naveen was co-curator for the Museum of Vancouver's exhibit, "Bhangra.me: Vancouver's Bhangra Story" which received an Award for Excellence from the Canadian Museum Association. He was the cultural researcher for SFU’s Komagata Maru project and is currently co-curating an exhibition of South Asian music and dance at the Surrey Art Gallery. As principal at Digital Handloom, Naveen leads a community storytelling practice that engages with and shares untold community stories.
These two words encapsulate so many negative aspects of the South Asian experience in Canada: exclusion, discrimination, and racism. While the community has overcome many systemic challenges, it would be too easy to see this as a positive narrative -- from tragedy to triumph.
04/20/2014 12:39 EDT
This requires us to see the Komagata Maru episode not just as a South Asian story but a trauma that all Canadians should remember and accept as their own story. Part of that process is internalizing that desecrating the Komagata Maru memorial should evoke anger from all of us.
01/17/2014 02:15 EST
"Shocked" is a word that's thrown around a lot in reference to the story of a man urinating on the Komagata Maru memorial. The brazenness of the act in broad daylight and his proclamation to continue his actions, all point to obscene and disturbing behaviour. But many South Asians I've talked to aren't shocked at all. Sad, yes. Disappointed, absolutely. But at the heart of this is the understanding that to be "shocked" means that you're experiencing the unexpected.
12/09/2013 01:31 EST
The Komagata Maru was introduced to me sandwiched between narratives of the Chinese Head Tax and Japanese Internment. It had no scope to breathe. No room for discussion and further explanation. And it was the only time I remember seeing people that looked like me in my school textbooks. But the Komagata Maru is more elusive. It took me years to unlearn the biases I had built up around the story, hear the voices of the pioneers and understand the history on its own terms.
05/23/2013 05:28 EDT
Pressured by his in-laws to find a respectable occupation, Vancouver Millionaire's star player Fred "Cyclone" Taylor had a summer job that connected him with one of the most iconic historical moments in Canadian history -- the arrival of the Komagata Maru.
03/23/2013 07:43 EDT
My ancestry doesn't define what I feel is most important. The essentialist logic that just because I'm South Asian an apology for the Komagata Maru incident is the paramount focus of my political identity -- and that its resolution would sway me to support a particular political party -- is insulting. I, like all Canadians, am more than just one thing.
03/12/2013 01:28 EDT
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