Komagata Maru signs unveiled in Vancouver

New signs have been unveiled in Vancouver, in honour of those who were aboard the Komagata Maru vessel in 1914.

Canada Place Way, which runs in front of the iconic building of the same name, will now also be called “Komagata Maru Place” as a secondary name.

The new signage will be found at the north ends of both Burrard and Thurlow streets along Canada Way.

Last year, Mayor Ken Sim said the naming was a “meaningful step” toward acknowledging the city’s historical “missteps.” The city has said the honourary naming “is a further act of cultural redress” for Vancouver’s role in the tragedy.

The Komagata Maru was a ship that entered the Burrard Inlet in 1914 carrying 376 passengers from India, who were denied entry into Canada and detained on board for two months.

The vessel was ultimately forced to turn back to India, where many of the Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu passengers on board were either killed or imprisoned.

In 2021, Vancouver city council issued a public apology for the city’s role in the incident. The Canadian and the B.C. government have both also issued formal apologies for the incident.

Memorial defaced

Meanwhile, the Komagata Maru memorial was once again defaced, this time just a day before the honourary signs were unveiled Friday.

Sim says the vandalism happened Thursday night, though he didn’t get into specifics.

“So we’re still dealing with this crap, and it’s really hurtful,” he said. “Once again, on behalf of our city, I apologize. I can tell you the overwhelming majority of Vancouverites, British Columbians, and Canadians are incredibly caring, and there are some jerks out there — for that, I do apologize.”

He says although these incidents are disappointing, they highlight the importance of honouring those who perished and were affected by the tragedy.

-With files from Cole Schisler

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