Komagata Maru: South Asian + Indigenous cultural redress mural at Harry Stevens Federal Building in Vancouver

Komagata Maru passengers.

THE Vancouver Mural Festival is partnering with Musqueam artists Alicia Point and Cyler Sparrow-Point and South Asian-Canadian artists Keerat Kaur, Sunroop Kaur and Sandeep Johal and historian Naveen Girn to produce a collaborative site-specific mural named “Taike-Sye’yə Mural.”

This mural centers the commemoration of the Komagata Maru episode that occurred in 1914 in the Burrard Inlet where more than 350 predominantly Sikh passengers were denied entrance to Canada based on the newly created “Continuous Passage Law” designed to block immigration of racialized people into Canada.

According to Wikipedia: “Komagata Maru sailed from British Hong Kong, via Shanghai, China, and Yokohama, Japan, to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1914, carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, British India. Of them, 24 were admitted to Canada, but the other 352 passengers were not allowed to disembark in Canada, and the ship was forced to return to India. The passengers comprised 337 Sikhs, 27 Muslims and 12 Hindus, all Punjabis and British subjects.”

Specifically, the artwork depicts the account of the welcome given by Musqueam paddlers who canoed out across the inlet to feed the passengers on the boat as they were blocked access to the shore for 62 days.

The collaborative mural will transform 4,000 square feet of the exterior wall of the Harry Stevens Federal Building at 125 East 10th Avenue in Vancouver into a highly visible public site of remembrance and site for sparking dialogue regarding promotion of cultural redress with Indigenous and South Asian communities.

The building’s namesake was a central figure in the denial of the passenger’s entry into Canada during the Komagata Maru episode.
This is being created in partnership with South Asian Canadian Historical Association, Indian Summer Festival, and the Surrey Art Gallery. Vancouver Mural Festival’s Community Projects are supported by YVR.