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.
We should never get over it. With the apology, we risk the ability to raise the issue of the Komagata Maru with "old stock Canadians" who likely would not want to hear the issue brought up again. With this, we potentially lose the ability to make the point that the Komagata Maru continues to be as relevant today as it was in 1914.
“With so much to contribute to their new home, they chose Canada. And we failed them utterly."
Be aware that, in our midst, a group of Canadian citizens are being dehumanized. History has shown us over and over again that this leads to oppression, hatred, and violence. Move past your knee-jerk reaction of protectionism. Don't be fooled by rhetoric. Understand that to that Muslim woman wearing the niqab, not being able to choose what she wears is oppression, even if it makes you personally uncomfortable.
When I see the photo of the Sikhs on the decks of the Komagata Maru, I think of the ones trying so desperately to pry that door open on land. The ones who raised money that they did not have for legal fees, and who rowed out to feed the men aboard with food they scarcely earned. Their story, and reasons for helping those barred from entry is as old as our nation itself.
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.
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.
A suspect who urinated on the Komagata Maru memorial has apologized, and Vancouver police have opted not to give him a bylaw
Vancouver police will not press any charges against a man who was photographed apparently peeing on the Komagata Maru memorial
"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.