Carla Qualtrough, federal Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, along with Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence and MP for Vancouver South, last Friday announced the removal of Harry Stevens’ name from a federal public building in Vancouver. Stevens was a central figure in the denial of the passenger’s entry into Canada during the Komagata Maru episode.
They were joined by other local MPs and members of the South Asian and First Nations communities. At the same time, the ministers also recognized the newly painted mural on the building, located at 125 10th Avenue East, as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation to victims of the Komagata Maru incident, and as a way of paying tribute to the kindness of spirit demonstrated by the nearby Indigenous peoples.
The new mural, painted as part of the 2019 Vancouver Mural Festival, depicts the Komagata Maru incident of 1914. It honours the victims of the tragedy and their descendants and recognizes the generosity of the local Indigenous Peoples in providing food and water to the passengers. The mural was a joint effort by artist Keerat Kaur, who painted the ship, and artists Alicia Point and Cyler Sparrow-Point, who painted the Indigenous art.
The South Asian Canadian Historical Association, Indian Summer Festival, the Surrey Art Gallery and Vancouver Mural Festival partnered on the project and local historians, storytellers and scholars advised the artists on the facts and context of the event.
A permanent monument commemorating the Komagata Maru Episode was unveiled in Coal Harbour in 2012 and updated in 2016 to include a plaque which recognizes the incident as an event of national historic significance. -CINEWS