The Komagata Maru incident is understood as a historical injustice – racist exclusion of South Asians through policy, practice and popular beliefs. In 2008, 94 years after the incident, the first words of apology were uttered by both the provincial and federal governments. This is after many years of South Asian communities demanding recognition of the incident.

Apologies can be seen as a powerful tool, a form of reparation, a symbolic gesture and much more (or less). We invite you to consider the following questions as you explore this section:

  • What is an apology?
  • What does an apology do? And, for whom?
  • How can we reconcile the current context with the apologies?

There have been mixed responses to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology and some community members have demanded a formal apology in the House of Commons, in line with the venue for other apologies for historical injustices in Canada. This connection amongst apologies will be discussed in this section, as well as details of both the provincial and federal apologies.

The invitation still stands: reflect and consider the deep complexities of apologizing for the explicitly racist exclusion of the passengers of the Komagata Maru after almost a century.