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Today in Labour History

23 May 1914
SS Komagata Maru in Vancouver, 1914
Source: Vancouver Public Library #6232, Wikimedia Commons

Sikh Immigrants Denied Entry

On 23 May 1914 the steamship Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver, Canada, with 376 Indian Sikhs on board. They claimed right of entry as citizens of the British empire. However, by pleading a law order designed to prevent Indian immigration, the government forbade them to disembark. The Komagata Maru kept anchored in the harbour for two months. On July 23rd, the steamer and its passengers were escorted out of the harbour by a Canadian navy vessel and sent back to India. Upon return the majority was labelled as anti-British and killed by the British colonial government.

A monument along the seawall of Vancouver bears the names of these unfortunate passengers -almost all of these people carry the name of  'Singh'.

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