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Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society want Surrey street named after ship

Last Updated Jan 10, 2019 at 7:46 am PDT

Sikhs aboard the Komagata Maru, 1914. (Source: Archives, Vancouver Public Library, Flickr)

Family of passengers of the Komagata Maru want to have a Surrey Street renamed after the ship

Hundreds of passengers coming from India in 1914 were not allowed into Canada

Some were killed, others imprisoned after skirmish with British authorities after leaving Vancouver port

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — Family of passengers of the Komagata Maru are hoping to honour those on the ill-fated ship by renaming a Surrey street.

It’s a part of history that hits close to home for Raj Singh Toor. His grandfather was one of the 376 passengers on the Komagata Maru, which traveled from India to Hong Kong and then to Vancouver in 1914.

The passengers were hoping to find a new life in Canada, but instead were turned away and sent back to India, where some died and others were imprisoned or forced into hiding passengers during a fight with British authorities.

Toor, the spokesperson for the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society, says hardship followed the passengers who were refused entry and it’s time to remember those who were involved.

“That’s why we want a street named on the Komagata Maru, in memory of the Komagata Maru passengers,” he says.

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Because there is a large South Asian population in Surrey, particularly that area of the city, it’s an appropriate spot to remember those who came across the ocean aboard the ship.

“The South Asian community will be happy… and the Canadians will be happy too, if they believe all humans should be treated with dignity and respect.”

Toor took his case to the Surrey Heritage Advisory Commission, who say they need more time to look at a naming plan and to discuss other options.

– With files from the Canadian Press