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Museum in Canada commemorates 100-year-old incident

Posted on Jan 25 2014 | IANS

Toronto, Jan 25 : To commemorate the one hundred years of the 1914 Komagata Maru incident, when 376 Punjabi immigrants on a ship from India were denied entry to Canada, a museum in this country is launching a year-long exhibition on the event from Jan 30.

The Sikh Heritage Museum in Abbotsford city in the Canadian province of British Columbia is launching the year-long exhibition that takes an extensive look at the infamous event, the Vancouver Desi reported Saturday."
"It's a dark moment in the history of South Asian migration to British Columbia," Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, coordinator at the University of Fraser Valley's Centre for Indo-Canadian studies, said.

"So much has changed (since then) - we're successful, we're a part of so many different fields and professional institutions," she said, adding that "but at the same time... ignorance still exists and our kind of goal, always with the Sikh Heritage Museum, is to fight ignorance."

The Komagata Maru Centennial Exhibition takes an extensive look at the Japanese chartered ship led by a Sikh entrepreneur, Gurdit Singh, who hoped to bring 376 Punjabi immigrants to Canada in 1914.

The majority of the immigrants were denied entry by Canadian authorities, citing exclusion law, once the ship reached Vancouver.

The ship was docked in Vancouver's harbour for more than two months.

This is now known as one of the most infamous events in the early history of the city.

Only about 20 passengers were eventually able to prove residency and allowed to disembark before the ship was forced out of Vancouver and back to India July 23, 1914.

The exhibition highlights the stories of the ship's passengers and other South Asian immigrants to British Columbia and Canada.

It also tells the story of Gurdit Singh who chartered the Komagata Maru.

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