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There is something compelling about the physical memorialization of historical injustices. A place to visit, a plaque or memorial to touch, a view to remember. Building, establishing or inaugurating a physical memorial transforms a tragedy like the Komagata Maru incident from a story read about to a physical event which cannot be as easily ignored. However, it is imperative to consider the implications of this physical memorialization – is the work of remembering completed once the physical aspect has been established? This website and its broader mandate suggest no, remembering is a continuous practice, a journey we must commit to over the long haul.

For those wanting to remember the Komagata Maru, there are two modest plaques in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The first, dedicated on July 23, 1989 is at the Ross Street Vancouver Gurdwara (Khalsa Diwan Society). It has both English and Punjabi inscribed. The text of the plaque is as follows:

Komagata Maru Incident
75th Anniversary.
Dedicated to the memory of the 376 passengers (340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims, 12 Hindus) who arrived at Burrard Inlet, Vancouver on May 23, 1914, from the Indian sub-continent on the ship Komagata Maru (Guru Nanak Jahaz). Due to the racist immigration policy of the Dominion of Canada, they were forced to leave on July 23, 1914. Khalsa Diwan Society, Vancouver, pays respect to those passengers by commemorating the reprehensible incident.
July 23, 1989.

The second plaque, established in 1994, is at the Gateway to the Pacific, in downtown Vancouver. The text of this plaque is as follows:

1994 May 23, 1914, 376 British Subjects (12 Hindus, 24 Muslims and 340 Sikhs) of Indian origin arrived in Vancouver harbour aboard the Komagata Maru, seeking to enter Canada. 352 of the passengers were denied entry and forced to depart on July 23, 1914. This plaque commemorates the 75th anniversary of that unfortunate incident of racial discrimination and reminds Canadians of our commitment to an open society in which mutual respect and understanding are honoured, differences are respected, and traditions are cherished.

Through funding from Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Community Historical Recognition Program, the Khalsa Diwan Society is working with an engineering company at the Vancouver Parks Board to establish a public moment and a public museum in a park close to Vancouver’s harbour. This project is expected to be completed in 2012.

In India, there is a monument at the Budge Budge dock – inaugurated by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952. The site is visited by Sikhs on September 29 every year to memorialize the return of the Komagata Maru, and to remember those who lost their lives in the Budge Budge encounter. The monument itself is quite large, unlike the modest plaques in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is white and green cement, with both scenes from the journey and the massacre, as well as a portrait of Gurdit Singh depicted in gold. One reviewer shared that locals refer to the monument as the “Punjabi monument.” While the monument does not list much information on the Komagata Maru’s journey, its passengers’ experiences while in the harbour off Vancouver or detail on the encounter at Budge Budge that left almost two dozen men dead, it does list the names of those who died.