A portion of a road in Abbotsford, British Columbia, will be named Komagata Maru Way in the memory of 376 Indians who sailed to Canada from India in 1914, but were turned away by the country.
Abbotsford City Council voted unanimously last week to rename a portion of South Fraser Way – which extends from Ware Street to Fairlane Street – to Komagata Maru Way, the Surrey-Now Leader reported.
The decision comes after descendants of those trapped aboard the Komagata Maru ship in Vancouver, asked the council to commemorate the humanitarian role played by Abbotsford’s South Asian community at the time.
The project will cost $4,000 for the renaming. The council has also voted to fund a plaque at the Abbotsford Sikh temple at a cost of $10,000, and educational kits to inform future generations about the Komagata Maru incident.
“The gesture shows a commitment to promoting and understanding inclusiveness, and belonging to all residents regardless of their cultural background. It sends a strong message to our future generations that we must look … to make sure we have a just society for everybody,” Councillor Dave Sidhu told Surrey-Now Leader.
The Sikh residents of Abbotsford rallied together to assist passengers aboard the Komagata Maru… They provided food, housing, information, and community connection,” a committee that was created in 2021 to study the incident, said in its findings.
“This Abbotsford connection to the plight of the Komagata Maru passengers is not well-known locally, and should be recognised as an important point of community pride,” the report, which was submitted before the council, said.
The 376 Indians, including Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, who sailed to Canada from India in 1914, were mostly from Punjab.
They were kept from docking for several months in dire conditions, and eventually forced to return to India. They reached Budge Budge near Kolkata on September 23, 1914.
“There (Vancouver) the majority of the passengers were imprisoned, and 20 were killed by gunfire when the ship was fired upon,” the report told the council.
The development comes as the historic Komagata Maru Memorial in Vancouver was vandalised earlier this month for the third time in a row between 2021 and 2023.