Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society vice-president and spokesperson Raj Singh Toor poses with Delta Mayor George Harvie and a mock-up of one of two signs commemorating the Komagata Maru that will be placed in the North Delta Social Heart Plaza. (Submitted photo)

Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society vice-president and spokesperson Raj Singh Toor poses with Delta Mayor George Harvie and a mock-up of one of two signs commemorating the Komagata Maru that will be placed in the North Delta Social Heart Plaza. (Submitted photo)

Signs commemorating Komagata Maru coming to North Delta Social Heart Plaza

Council voted Monday (Dec. 14) to place storyboards in English and in Punjabi near the spray park

The City of Delta will install a pair of signs recognizing the tragedy of the Komagata Maru at the North Delta Social Heart plaza.

On Monday, Delta council voted to place two storyboards — one in English and one in Punjabi — near the spray park at the south-west corner of the park.

The recommendation stems from a proposal from the non-profit Descendents of the Komagata Maru Society to name a park, street or other civic asset in memory of the ship’s passengers.

The Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver from Hong Kong in May 1914, carrying 376 passengers. Most of the passengers were immigrants from the Punjab region in what was then British India. The hundreds of passengers were not allowed on shore, and for two months they remained in the waters outside of Vancouver before being forced to return to India.

Upon their return, 20 of the passengers were shot and killed “in an encounter with British Indian police and troops,” according to canadianencyclopedia.ca.

In an email top the North Delta Reporter, Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society vice-president and spokesperson Raj Singh Toor thanks mayor and council, city staff and Delta’s Heritage Advisory Commission for their work in making the signs a reality and helping residents to be better informed about the hardships the ship’s passengers endured.

“We can’t undo the past, but we can move forward and leave a legacy for future generations by educating them about the past. This new Komagata Maru storyboard sign in the North Delta Social Heart Plaza will help educate the community and remind us of Delta’s diverse makeup. I hope that it will help in connecting British Columbians, Canadians and Delta residents with their past, in order to build a more peaceful and tolerant tomorrow,” Toor said.

In a press reelase Tuesday afternoon, Mayor George Harvie said he was proud of council for approving the signs.

“I look forward to seeing the sign installed at the North Delta Social Heart Plaza where all Deltans will be able to learn about this important part of our history and feel the impact it still has today. Recognizing and acknowledging our past helps to provide a more inclusive present and a positive, diverse future.”

At last week’s council meeting (Dec. 7), council received a staff recommendation to place the signs at Delview Park, however that was referred back to staff to report back on the city’s policy governing where and why historical signs are placed in city parks.

The same recommendation was also referred back to staff by the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission on Oct. 29 for the same reason.

READ MORE: Approval of Komagata Maru signs in North Delta park delayed over process

On Monday, Coun. Lois Jackson expressed her confusion at the proposal coming back before council with a new location without first returning to the Heritage Advisory Commission, which she chairs and which is responsible for historical signage, for its consideration regarding the change.

Additionally, Jackson said she understood the motion passed at last week’s council meeting to mean staff would be reporting back with policies and procedures for where and why historical signs — including these ones — are placed in city parks.

Mayor George Harvie, whose office brought forward the recommendation to place the signs at the Social Heart Plaza, said council made it clear at last week’s meeting they did not want the signs’ approval to drag on.

“Frankly, I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed for this council because this request came to council in December 2019. (…) And here we are, one year after having a request, [and] at the same time it has been recognized by the federal government, it’s been recognized — rightfully so — by the provincial government, recognized by the City of Vancouver, and recently recognized by the City of Surrey,” Harvie said.

RELATED: Surrey unveils Komagata Maru Way signs

“I, as mayor, think it’s very sad that we take over a year to do something that is so important, to recognize the tragedy that happened and recognize the importance of it to our North Delta South Asian community.”

The mayor went on to say he didn’t think a park is the right site for this type of monument, and with staff came up with the Social Heart Plaza as “the most appropriate place for recognition of this most unfortunate event,” as well as other future historical plaques.

“I do not want to see this go on for another year.”

Harvie reminded Jackson that it is council that makes these decisions, not the Heritage Commission.

“We’re the elected people here. We don’t have to keep going back [to the commission]. And if the excuse is that we need to go back and get more policy, I wonder what the real agenda is.”

Jackson clarified her issue is with the lack of consultation with the Heritage Commission since they signed had signed off on the Delview Park location in consultation with the Descendents of the Komagata Maru Society.

“My concern is, quite frankly, all of this discussion has been going on … and the Heritage Commission has not been involved. I haven’t been involved in any of the discussions you’ve talked about with Parks or yourself, your worship. I would have appreciated some kind of notification,” Jackson said.

“We can put it up wherever you want it to go, but it would have been nice to have at least had the courtesy of a discussion with yourself, your worship, or Parks or somebody.”

Coun. Dan Copeland, who moved the report recommending the Delview Park location be referred back to staff at last week’s council meeting, said he understands both Jackson and Harvie’s frustrations, and while he supports the signs’ placement at the North Delta Social Heart Plaza, he still believes there needs to be some protocol in place to help council navigate similar requests in the future.

Other councillors also voiced their support for the Social Heart Plaza location, while reiterating the need for a clear sign policy moving forward.

Council voted 5-0 to approve the proposal, with Jackson abstaining. Coun. Alicia Guichon was not present Monday night.

SEE ALSO: North Delta history: South Asian settlement throughout the 20th century



editor@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Delta

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The City of Delta is placing two signs commemorating the Komagata Maru in the North Delta Social Heart Plaza, one in English (pictured) and one in Punjabi. (City of Delta photo)

The City of Delta is placing two signs commemorating the Komagata Maru in the North Delta Social Heart Plaza, one in English (pictured) and one in Punjabi. (City of Delta photo)

Just Posted

In September 2018, former Vancouver Canucks player Dave Babych tees off at Northview Golf & Country Club in Surrey during the 35th annual Jake Milford Charity Invitational tournament. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
No ‘shotguns’ or banquets: Surrey golf courses pitch COVID-safe tournaments for 2021

With spring on the way, course operators book tournaments that will involve ‘tweaks and adjustments’

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey council approves $420,570 in grants for local arts, culture groups

This happened at Monday night’s council meeting, to cover 2021

Surrey native Dylan Kinley, shown here with the Douglas College Royals, has signed with the UFV Cascades. (Douglas Royals photo)
UFV Cascades sign Surrey native Dylan Kinley

Tweedsmuir grad, Douglas Royals star joins Abbotsford-based team for 2021-22

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
OUR VIEW: Surrey’s public hearings are for being heard

Surrey public hearings of late have been devolving into something less than intended

Members of the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society picked up their new van from Mainland Ford in Surrey Wednesday (Jan. 27, 2021) after the society’s old van was stolen and damaged. (Submitted photo: Dylan Van Rooyen)
After thrift store van stolen and damaged, Surrey dealership helps out firefighters’ charitable society

The Community Thrift Store van was stolen in South Surrey in December

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Most Read