Ottawa, ON – The Hon. Candice Bergen, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and the Official Opposition, released the following statement on the anniversary of the Komagata Maru Incident:

“On May 23, 1914, the Komagata Maru sailed into the Burrard Inlet in Vancouver carrying 376 passengers.

“These travellers had braved the journey across the Pacific and were looking to settle in Canada. They were also seeking to challenge the racist immigration laws that the Government of Canada had created in order to stop South Asians from coming into the country.

“Upon their arrival, the passengers of the Komagata Maru were denied entry and forced to stay aboard their ship. After suffering two months of isolation and bigotry, the Komagata Maru was ultimately forced out of Canadian waters, escorted by the Canadian military.

“Tragically, upon their return to India, several of these passengers were killed and many more were imprisoned.

“Canada’s rejection of the Komagata Maru passengers based on their race is a painful part of our history. Today, on the 108th anniversary of their arrival, we remember the victims of these deeply unjust decisions and renew our commitment to fighting racism, xenophobia, and discrimination.

“Today, Canada is extremely proud to be the home of nearly two million people with South Asian heritage, including many Punjabis. As we continue to learn from the mistakes of our past, I encourage all Canadians to celebrate the incredibly enriching contributions that the South Asian community has made to our country.”