Surrey staff is recommending renaming a street after the Komagata Maru incident last century.
A corporate report coming before Surrey council Monday recommends renaming 75A Avenue from 120 St to 121A St. Komagata Maru Way.
The Komagata Maru, a ship carrying 376 passengers from the Punjab region of India, arrived in Vancouver in 1914. All but 24 passengers were refused entry into Vancouver, and the ship was sent back to India on July 23, two months after the ship’s arrival. The passengers sent back consisted of 337 Sikhs, 27 Muslims and 12 Hindus.
On return to India, they were fired upon by the Indian Imperial Police, and 20 Sikhs were killed.
The incident remains a dark mark on Canada’s history of immigration policy.
Surrey already has an existing memorial on 75A Avenue, which was installed by the Progressive Intercultural Community Services in 2006. It is a 12 foot by 22 foot painting by artist Jarnail Singh, and includes a recreation of the immigrants, an image of the ship, and is inscribed “Komagata Maru – 1914: We Remember”
Raj Toor, of the Descendents of Komagata Maru Society is spearheading the renaming of the street in memory of the Komagata Maru.
He appeared before Surrey’s heritage commission in January to make the case.
The commission recommended that; Surrey hire a researcher to provide in-depth fact finding on the subject, the city create a storyboard and offer continued programing that shares the history.
Surrey staff were expected to recommend to council on Monday night that the city go ahead with the street renaming.
“The Komagata Maru incident provides important opportunity to reflect on the past, while also looking to the future,” a staff report to Surrey council states. Staff recommended signs on three corners and anticipate they could be up in three weeks after approval.
Civic officials are expected to discuss the issue at Monday’s regular council meeting.