Komagatu Maru

Photo via City of Vancouver Archives / AM 15984-:CVA 7-122.

Welcome to the Vancouver Lexicon. Its purpose is to pin down the patois of the City of Vancouver by recording its toponyms, nicknames, slang terms, personalities, places, and other Van-centric things. Full A-Z here.

Komagatu Maru | racism, history | The name of a Japanese ship that famously carried 376 immigrants from (then British) India to Vancouver in May, 1914. ‘Komagatu Maru’ became synonymous with racial intolerance and colonial inhumanity because its passengers were not only denied entry into Canada by its racist exclusion laws, but they were also refused outside communications, proper due process, and – for a time – even food and water. In late July, 1914, the Komagatu Maru finally left Vancouver’s harbour, ultimately returning to India by way of Hong Kong two months later. When a riot broke out upon the ship’s arrival near Kolkata, 19 passengers were shot to death by colonial police. The Canadian government only fully and formally apologised for the incident in the House of Commons over a hundred years later, in 2016.

Usage: “As with many episodes in our short but often ugly history, the tragic tale of the Komagatu Maru still needs to be told…”


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