With Vancouver’s waterfront ringing to the verses of ‘White Canada Forever’, hundreds of Punjabi East Indians have quietly sailed into the harbour clamouring for their right as equal subjects of the British Empire to relocate in Canada, their chartered ship ‘Komagata Maru’ now rusting at anchor inside the Burrard Inlet. The hopeful would-be-immigrants find the city distracted by exuberant Victoria Day celebrations, not to mention Buffalo Bill’s final visit and circus billed as ‘The Best Show On Earth’.
While an immigration inspector seizes upon the ship’s arrival on his watch as an opportunity to redress personal frustrations and regain lost stature, an East Indian mill worker watches from the shore in rising frustration as the allegedly rogue ship’s passengers are denied entry.
These are some of the threads that are woven into the narrative of a disillusioned passenger of the ‘Komagata Maru’ who is ostensibly here to take up the Canadian offer of ‘Free Land’ in the Last Best West.
|Dimensions||8.375 x 5.250 cm|
The Komagata Maru Narratives
Published in November 2010