What is the Indian Connection with Road Name Change in Canada

File photo of Komagata Maru carrying Indian passengers in 1914 (Image credit: Twitter/@YasminGandham) - Sakshi Post

Ottawa: A Canada city council has decided to name the portion of a road in Abbotsford, British Columbia and it has an Indian connection to it. Recently, the Abbotsford City Council decided to change the name of the portion of South Fraser Way in the memory of 376 Indians who went to Canada over a hundred years ago but they were turned away by the country, Surrey-Now Leader reported. 

“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. 

This decision reminds us of the Komagata Maru incident which took place in 1914. A Japanese steamship called ‘Komagata Maru’ carrying 376 Indian passengers, including Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims who sailed to Canada from Hong Kong (then part of British Empire. The ship was kept from docking for several months and eventually denied entry and forced to return to India. 

In the early 1900s, many white Canadians were against the immigration of non-white people to their country. There were also riots against the people of Asian origin in Vancouver’s Chinatown. 

In 1908, the federal government made two provisions under its exclusion laws to prevent Indians from coming to Canada. The first provision required all immigrants arriving in Canada must make a continuous journey from India to Canada because the government knew there were no direct ships between the two countries. Second provision said the incoming travellers must possess $200 upon arriving in Canada. 

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