At Monday night’s Council Meeting, Council voted to authorize the installation of commemorative signs that say Komagata Maru Way on 75A Avenue between 120 Street and 121A Street. In addition to the commemorative street name signs, Council also approved the installation of a storyboard at R.A Nicholson Park, explaining the history of the Komagata Maru and a city project to document the history and contributions of the earliest South Asian residents in Surrey.
By DESIBUZZCanada Staff
SURREY –Surrey City Council voted Monday to approve the renaming of a Surrey street to commemorate the victims of the 1914 Komagata Maru incident.
At Monday night’s Council Meeting, Council voted to authorize the installation of commemorative signs that say Komagata Maru Way on 75A Avenue between 120 Street and 121A Street.
“Surrey is a city that embraces diversity and renaming this stretch of road is a reminder that intolerance has no place in our city,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “As we celebrate and welcome people from all over the world, we also need to learn from our past to ensure such injustices never happen again.”
In addition to the commemorative street name signs, Council also approved the installation of a storyboard at R.A Nicholson Park, explaining the history of the Komagata Maru and a city project to document the history and contributions of the earliest South Asian residents in Surrey.
The initiative was spearheaded by Raj Singh Toor, a grandson of one of the passengers on the Komagata Maru, and Vice President and spokesperson for the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society.
“I wrote e mail to City Of Surrey Council and Mayor behalf of the Descendants of the Komgata Maru Society for renaming the street name in memory of the Komagata Maru Passengers in November 2018,” Toor said in a statement released to media.
“I had a lots meeting with Heritage Commissions, City Of Surrey Staff and Respected Mayor Mr Doug McCallum. I lobbied so many months for renaming the Street name on Komagata Maru in memory of the Komagata Maru Passengers.”
Toor thanked Mayor McCallum for bestowing the honour of renaming the 75 A Ave on Komata Maru Way in memory of the Komagata Maru Passengers and also we are doing a story Board in R A Nicholson Park permanently on your Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society request application.
“I like to say thank you to the Respected Mayor Mr Doug McCallum and Councillors and City Of Surrey staff for approved the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society requests application and renaming the 75A Ave name on the Komagata Maru Way in memory of the Komagata Maru Passengers and also Story Board in R A Nicholson Park in Surrey,” Toor said.
“It’s a great tribute to those passengers who suffered a lot during the tragedy. Their sacrifice and struggle is recognized by the City Of Surrey Council . Descendants of the Komgata Maru families and south Community is happy. All the Canadian are happy. It’s a Canadian history.
The Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver on May 23, 1914 with 376 passengers. Toor’s grandfather Baba Puran Singh Janetpura was one of the passengers.
No food, water or medication was provided by the government, even though it was the government’s discriminatory law that prevented the passengers from disembarking.
Only the local Sikh community provided the passengers with food and water. The Komagata Maru was forcefully sent back to India after two months under the shadow of a military ship.
The British were ruling India at that time, and when the Komagata Maru arrived in India, British troops shot at the passengers. Around 20 people were killed on the spot. Many were injured, and the rest of them were put in jail for a long period of time including Toor’s grandfather.
Descendants of the the Komagata Maru Society lobbied more than 15 years hear the Komagata Maru apology in the BC Legislature and in the House Of Commons. We never ask for the compensation.
The BC Government apologized for this incident on May 23, 2008, and the Federal Government apologized on May 18, 2016.
“We can’t undo the past but we can move forward and leave a legacy for the future generation by educating them about the past. Places like this Komagata Maru Way and Story Board will educate the entire community and make us all richer in awareness of how special a place Canada is to have so many different ethnic communities living together. And with this knowledge we can build a better world free from racism,” Toor said.
“The naming of a street and Story Board R A Nicholson Park in Surrey in memory of the Komagata Maru passengers as an ideal way for Surrey residents and visitors to connect with their past in order to build a more peaceful and tolerant tomorrow.”