A timely and superbly illustrated account of the explosive event that challenged Canada's racist immigration policy
In May 1914, the Komagata Maru, a ship carrying 376 immigrants from British India, was turned away when it tried to land in Vancouver Harbour. Many of the men on board, veterans of the British Indian Army, believed it was their right to settle anywhere in the empire they had fought to defend. Enforcing the "continuous journey" regulation, immigration boats surrounded the ship a half-mile offshore, making the passengers virtual prisoners.
Thus began a dramatic standoff that would escalate over the next two months, becoming one of the most infamous events in Canadian history. Weaving text together with rarely seen photographs and key documents, award-winning filmmaker Ali Kazimi explores what the current federal government has acknowledged as a "dark chapter" in Canada's past.
Throughout, he seeks answers to the incident's most provocative questions: Why would Canada turn away these South Asian migrants when it had accepted more than 400,000 immigrants the previous year? Why were some of the passengers killed upon their forced return to India? How did this ship pose a threat to the mightiest empire the world had ever known? By setting the story in a global context and against the early histories of Chinese, Japanese and African-American immigrants to Canada, Kazimi shows that the Komagata Maru "incident" was far from incidental. Today, with Canada's immigration and refugee framework under intense scrutiny, the story of the Komagata Maru is all the more relevant.