Komagata Maru Incident Essay

1683 Words7 Pages
May 1914, the eve of World War One, a Japanese steamship by the name of Komagata Maru, arrived in Vancouver after leaving Hong Kong in early April. On board were 376 passengers, most of whom were Sikh migrants, and some who had served in the British army during World War One. When the Komagata Maru arrived in Canada, it was confronted with officials, police, and the military at the port of Vancouver, which was not the welcome they were hoping for. Gurdit Singh, a passenger on the boat, spoke to officials and press saying, “we are all British citizens and we consider we have a right to visit any part of the empire”(Johnston,voyage of Komagata Maru). The ship was not allowed to dock. A 1908 Canadian law at the time forbade them to do so. The Komagata Maru incident…show more content…
Although their numbers were small, they got negative attention from inordinate Canadians. This was prompted by cultural, racial, prejudice and labor fears of economic competition (Johnston,Komagata Maru). There were already Anti-Asian lobbies in Canada who opposed Chinese and Japanese immigrants and they started to dislike on the Punjabi and South Asians. As a result, Canada placed a law on immigrants from India in 1908 with regulations which had to be followed when coming to Canada. Ali Kazimi, who wrote a documentary on the Komagata Maru told the Toronto Star, “that Canada for the first 100 years of its existence had what was effectively a ‘white man's’ policy” ( Tharoor, Trudeau's apology). Canada’s law that was placed had 2 requirements a $200 fee and a travel rule, which had to be met if you were to travel to Canada. Knowing that Canada stopped Asians immigrants, trying to get into the country, the activists of Punjab and other parts of Asia, so they focused on trying to get back into Canada by the Komagata Maru. They believed they could change Canada's rule since both India and Canada were under the British empire at the time.
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