Foundation Issues USA Travel Advisory

In light of the escalating number of racial attacks and violence against minorities in the US, the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation has issued the following media release. We encourage caution in trips to the United States.

Aug 14, 2017

For Immediate Release:

August 14th, 2017 

(Surrey, BC) The events of August 12, 2017 in Virginia are but just the latest in a series of events of escalating violence and rhetoric against minorities and against the rights of all people. We have seen the rhetoric of hate grow louder not just in the United States but also here in Canada. What happened yesterday was not a protest or a march but a race riot planned and perpetrated by nationalists and right wing extremists whose agenda it is to diminish and erode any and all civil rights and return us to a society full of bigotry and hatred. We at PMSF condemn the “unite the right” movement, we call it for what it is, a fascist and racist supremacist movement, and we pledge to continue to fight racism and all other forms of discrimination. We are also grateful to the brave people that stood up against this bigotry and offer our condolences to the family and friends of Heather Heyer who lost her life at the hands of hate.  

For minorities, people of colour, LBGTQ people we advise against travel to certain regions in the Southern United States, and suggest extreme vigilance when traveling to any other American destinations. 

Please contact us if you would like further information.

Complete audio of our discussion with CBC Radio (with Director of Communication, Herman Thind) can be found here

Foundations Members With Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale

 

(Members of the Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation meeting with Public Safety Minister, Hon. Ralph Goodale, in Ottawa)

Add your reaction Share

102 Years Later - The Arrival of the Komagata Maru

For Immediate Release:

Vancouver (May 23, 2016)

102 Years Later - The Arrival of the Komagata Maru

102 years ago today a tired group of would-be migrants - all British subjects - sailed into Burrard Inlet. They were met with the fear and hatred of the local populace, at a time when Empire subjects should have been welcomed with open arms.

A population enslaved by an empire; a shipload of would-be pioneers; the angst of colonial bigotry.  All these factors combined to shape and harden the resolve of the Ghadar movement that fateful May 23rd in 1914.  A world gripped with the foreboding shadow of ‘the war to end all wars’ gave little quarter to the wishes of freedom fighters wanting independence for their colonized homeland.  No imperial tear was shed for the victims of this terminated voyage.   

"As we observe the one hundred and second anniversary of those horrible events we can at long last claim that some semblance of closure has been achieved, thanks to the actions of the many who joined in our struggle for an official Parliamentary apology by the government of Canada.  This is a victory for them, and for all South Asians”, says Sahib Thind - President of the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, “It is also a victory for the multicultural mosaic that is Canada”.

"Five days ago, in the nations capital, members of our foundation were able to witness an historic event (the apology).  We also observed unanimous support from the leadership of all parties in Parliament:  the governing Liberals, the Conservatives, the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois, and the Green Party" adds Communications Director, Herman Thind.  

The events of this past week were a welcome answer to almost a quarter century of petitions and requests for a formal apology by The Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation.  While the foundation worked with several governments to encourage the apology, they particularly appreciate the efforts of the current government for acting on years of petitions, initially promising the apology at the foundation's 2014 annual festival.  After 102 long years, the tragic story of these early South Asian pioneers will be enshrined in the national public record.  The foundation thanks the Right Honourable Prime Minister and the Hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage for their parts in this process.

The foundation now shifts their efforts to ensuring that Canadian school children will learn about this incident and others like it, in order to ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes of a century ago.  As stated in the foundation's earliest of petitions, over a dozen years ago:  "An account of the Komagata Maru tragedy and South-Asian-Canadian history should become part of the school curriculum in BC and across Canada.  The Federal Government can facilitate coordinating this with the Provinces (under whose jurisdiction Education falls).” 

 

Related Media:

 

Renewed Call for Komagata Maru Apology In Commons:  "

     - The Voice Newspaper, Feb 3, 2016
 

“Speaker Honours Office Bearers of Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation & Gadri Memorial Foundation”:

 
     - The Punjab Update, March 25, 2015
 

“Apology Seekers… Upset”:

 
 
     - CBC News, May 25, 2015
 
 
More details on the Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation:

 

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Komagata Maru - Official Statement, Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation

For Immediate Release.

(OTTAWA, May 18)


Today we bore witness to a historical event that has been long overdue. The Canadian people received a statement from the Canadian government recognizing the historical wrong that was done to the people of the Indian sub-continent.

A society that does not recognize and make amends for its mistakes is bound by destiny to repeat them over and over again.

The Komagata Maru incident, organized by the members of the Gadar party was a part of a secular movement for human and civil rights steeped in the dignity and respect of the common person. It was part of an international struggle against colonialism that had deep ties with diverse groups including the radical women's rights movement, the Chinese democratic movements, the struggles of the people's in the middle east, and Irish and Scottish peoples' amongst others.

We recognize that that struggle of the common person continues today with the struggles of the first nations people's in Canada, the plight of the common people in Syria, Palestine and Iraq and the situation we face with imminent environmental disaster.

For over 2 decades the Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation has worked to obtain an official House of Commons apology from a Canadian Government for the events related to the Komagata Maru incident.

When Prime Minister Trudeau visited our annual Festival in Bear Creek Park in Surrey BC on August 3 2014 - on the affair's 100th Anniversary - and promised a formal apology, we knew our work would finally be done.

After 102 long years, the story of these early South Asian pioneers will be enshrined in our national public record.

We would like to thank the Right Honourable Prime Minister for keeping his promise, and for making this date a historic one for all the generations of South Asian migrants to Canada.   We would also like to thank all the people from around the world who made this possible.  This is a victory for the South Asian Community, and for the people of Canada.

 
Related Media:
 
Renewed Call for Komagata Maru Apology In Commons:  "
     - The Voice Newspaper, Feb 3, 2016
 
“Speaker Honours Office Bearers of Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation & Gadri Memorial Foundation”:
 
     - The Punjab Update, March 25, 2015
 
“Apology Seekers… Upset”:
 
 
     - CBC News, May 25, 2015
 
 
More details on the Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation:

 

Add your reaction Share

Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation to Witness Komagata Maru Apology in Parliament

We are proud to be making the short trip to Ottawa to witness the official Komagata Maru apology, on behalf of the hundreds who made that long initial journey in 1914.

You can download a pdf document summarizing the struggles of the foundation over the past quarter century HERE.

 PMSMF May 18 Update

Add your reaction Share

Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation To Attend Komagata Maru Apology In Canadian House of Commons

 

"After over two decades of seeking an official apology in Parliament, we are making this historic journey"

SURREY, BC (May 12, 2016) – Next week members of the Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation embark on a journey to Ottawa to witness the Canadian Government’s official apology (in Parliament) for the Komagata Maru Tragedy. The Prime Minister had initially promised this apology at the Foundation’s annual Melas (festivals) in 2014 and 2015.

Sahib Thind, President of the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, thanks the Federal Government for this apology. The Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, a human rights non-profit organization, has been seeking an official Parliamentary apology for this sad chapter in Canadian history for over two decades, and initiated the whole process with multiple petitions introduced (on our behalf) by various MPs in Ottawa. The foundation has remained steadfast in its resolve for an official apology in the House of Commons.

The Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation worked to successfully obtain an apology from the Government of British Columbia (May 23rd, 2008), and on March 25th 2014 worked with the Punjab State Assembly in India for a unanimous resolution to ask the Government of India to encourage the Canadian Government to offer a formal apology in Parliament.

“We are pleased to make this journey in memory and celebration of the hundreds who made the ill-fated original journey back in 1914,” said Mr. Thind.

“Next week’s apology is the culmination of almost a quarter century of effort by our organization. We never asked for any compensation, and single-mindedly kept the goal to have the official apology made in Parliament, and written into Hansard. Anything short of that was, to us, only a political statement - not a part of the public record. We once again thank the tens of thousands of South Asian Canadians across the land who we represent in this cause, and the others who have worked with us to seek this apology, we say “thank you” for your resolve”. Mr. Thind added that “this is a historic moment for South Asian Canadians, and for Canada as a whole. We can now bring closure to this tragic series of events. Our foundation will continue to work with all levels of government to ensure our education system recognizes this as a key part of our history and our national fabric".

Adds Herman Thind (Communications Director): “The Foundation’s story is one of almost 25 years of struggle and determination. While many wavered, this group held to the firm belief that an official apology must be made IN the House of Commons. The stories of personal sacrifice and perseverance by members of this Foundation are truly incredible. From traveling the world engaging governments, to holding an annual ‘Mela’ (festival) for the past 21 years, that attracted over 50,000 visitors annually and brought attention to the cause, the foundation’s relentless dedication is unmatched”.

Related Media:

“Renewed Call for Komagata Maru Apology In Commons”: "

"In 2002, the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation of Canada initiated a petition calling for a respectful apology from the Canadian government. Successive governments, including the Conservative government refused to do so.
In 2014, attending Mela Gadri Babian Da, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a pre-election commitment to the community that he would make a formal apology for the Komagata Maru incident in the House of Commons within the first 90 days of a Liberal Government’s mandate."
- The Voice Newspaper, Feb 3, 2016

“Speaker Honours Office Bearers of Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation & Gadri Memorial Foundation”:

"Dr. Charanjit Singh Attwal, Speaker, Punjab Legislative Assembly has honoured Mr. Sahib Singh Thind, President, Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, Canada…"

- The Punjab Update, March 25, 2015

“Apology Seekers… Upset”:

""An apology made outside of parliament by any political spokesperson, whether they're the Prime Minister or any other Member of Parliament, is a political statement," Amandeep Singh told the CBC. Singh is part of the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, the group that arranged the Prime Minister's visit in 2008."

- CBC News, May 25, 2015

More details on the Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation:
http://www.profmohansinghmemorialfoundation.ca/

 

 
Add your reaction Share

Sahib Thind Discusses Our Organization, Our Events, & the Komagata Maru

Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation founder, Sahib Thind, discusses the organization, our events and projects, and the Komagata Maru apology recently announced by Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  (Select 'CC' at bottom right of video to see English subtitles)

 

Add your reaction Share

Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation Thanks Prime Minister For Committing to Komagata Maru Apology Date

"After over two decades of seeking an official apology in Parliament, we will see one in May" 


SURREY, BC (April 11, 2015) – Today, Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the date of the Canadian Government’s official apology (in Parliament) for the Komagata Maru Tragedy. The Prime Minister had promised this apology at the Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation’s annual Mela Gadri Babiyan Da (festival) on two separate occasions in 2014 and 2015.

Sahib Thind, President of the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, thanks the Federal Government for setting a date for this apology. The Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, a human rights non-profit organization, has been seeking an official Parliamentary apology for this sad chapter in Canadian history for over two decades and via many petitions. The foundation has remained steadfast in its resolve for an official apology in the House of Commons.

The Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation worked to successfully obtain an apology from the Government of British Columbia (May 23rd, 2008), and on March 25th 2014 worked with the Punjab State Assembly in India for a unanimous resolution to ask the Government of India to encourage the Canadian Government to offer a formal apology in Parliament.

“It is time for us to file away a sad chapter in Canadian history,” said Mr. Thind.

“Today’s announcement is the announcement of a date our organization has been working towards for decades. We never asked for any compensation, and single-mindedly kept the goal to be the official apology made in Parliament, and written into Hansard. To the tens of thousands of South Asian Canadians across the land who we represent in this cause, and the many who have worked with us to seek this apology, we say “thank you” for your resolve”. Mr. Thind added that he is pleased the Prime Minister has "kept his promise made personally to me and over 100,000 attendees at our Melas (fairs) in 2014 and 2015".

Related Media:

“Renewed Call for Komagata Maru Apology In Commons”:

""In 2002, the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation of Canada initiated a petition calling for a respectful apology from the Canadian government. Successive governments, including the Conservative government refused to do so. In 2014, attending Mela Gadri Babian Da, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a pre-election commitment to the community that he would make a formal apology for the Komagata Maru incident in the House of Commons within the first 90 days of a Liberal Government’s mandate." - The Voice Newspaper, Feb 3, 2016

“Speaker Honours Office Bearers of Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation & Gadri Memorial Foundation”:

"Dr. Charanjit Singh Attwal, Speaker, Punjab Legislative Assembly has honoured Mr. Sahib Singh Thind, President, Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, Canada…" - The Punjab Update, March 25, 2015

“Apology Seekers… Upset”:

""An apology made outside of parliament by any political spokesperson, whether they're the Prime Minister or any other Member of Parliament, is a political statement," Amandeep Singh told the CBC. Singh is part of the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, the group that arranged the Prime Minister's visit in 2008." - CBC News, May 25, 2015

Add your reaction Share

Refugees and Migrants: The World’s Gift To Canada

Canada is a nation built by refugees and migrants.  Our greatest national growth occurred during (and after) times of mass influxes of people from throughout the world. 

As a nation we have benefitted from migrations of ‘Loyalists’ after the American Revolution, former slaves from the United States, migrations of Irish and Scots before the turn of the last Century, the arrival of tens of thousands of economic refugees from Europe during blights, depressions, wars, and dictatorial regimes.  We have grown with the arrival of East African refugees in the early 70s, Vietnamese refugees in the late 70s, Eastern Bloc refugees throughout the cold war, and Bosnian refugees in the 90s.

Most Canadians (with the exception of our First Nations) can trace our heritage back to some form of migration.  Even many early English settlers were either economic ‘refugees’, conscripts into the English Army, or even indentured servants.  Of course there was an ‘upper class’ of entrepreneurs, military officers, governors, senior civil servants, etc.  We often forget the ‘how’ behind how we got here, but we sure do celebrate our ‘Canadian-ness’.  

With each new wave of migrants we see the typical 'backlash of first habituation’, where some existing residents feel threatened, or express their previously hidden xenophobic feelings.  In some cases these ideas are driven by negative perceptions within a majority community of a minority group or ‘outsiders’, while sometimes the perceptions are driven by external events ‘wars’ on terror, foreign conflicts (the World Wars), etc.  

In the early 1900s Canada was seeing an influx of new migrants.  A young nation, Canada had built railways and towns from coast to coast. Our resources were driving the growth of an Empire, feeding multiple war efforts, and growing cities in the East.  Even in light of this growth forces of xenophobia and fear had forced the federal government to adopt the ‘Continuous Passage’ policy for immigration.  The prevailing mood in Canadian society at the time was one stained with thoughts of ‘protection of civilization’ and ‘cultural suitability’, and this fuelled the justification for the policy.  The West Coast in particular - home to thousands of Chinese and Indian settlers and workers - was rapt with these thoughts, and hostility towards the newcomers.

Many South Asians - particularly farmers and former soldiers in the British Indian Army - had seen Canada as a very promising new home.  Thousands of Indians - mostly from the Punjab - had toiled building Canadian railways and working in local lumber mills.  They spent years struggling to send money home to families, with the faint hope that one day their families would be able to join them.  The lone impediment was the government policy requiring any immigrants to reach Canada via a continuous journey from their land of origin.  The policy itself had been drawn up specifically to prevent immigration from India.  

On the 23rd of May, 1914, 376 passengers on the chartered Japanese ship ‘Komagata Maru’ arrived in Burrard Inlet from Hong Kong.  These passengers, all British subjects,  mostly immigrants from Punjab, were traveling to challenge Canada’s ‘Continuous Journey Regulation’.  Upon arrival these migrants were denied dockage (with the exception of 20 returning Canadian residents and the on-board doctor).

For two months the migrants were held offshore, surrounded by police and naval vessels.  Finally on July 23rd, 1914, the Komagata Maru was forcibly escorted out of Vancouver Harbour by a Canadian Navy vessel.  Upon arrival at the ‘Budge-Budge’ Docks (on the Hooghly River, in Kolkata, India), the passengers were fired upon by British forces, with 19 passengers losing their lives, and many injured and unjustly arrested.

The Komagata Maru incident was certainly not the last time migrants to Canada were turned away, or sent back into harm’s way. We have been guilty of maintaining a systemic and popular ‘tradition' (for at least the first 40-50 years of the last century) of exclusion.

In June, 1939 a German vessel - the SS St. Louis - arrived off the US Eastern seaboard carrying 908 Jewish refuge-seekers from Hamburg, Germany.  After being rejected by Cuba, and the United States, the valiant Captain tried to find shelter for the refugees in Canada.  Pushed into inaction by Immigration Branch director - civil servant Frederick Charles Blair - Canada’s Government of the time turned away the refugees, sending many to their deaths.

It is interesting to note, once again, the prevailing mindset of Canada’s elite at the time:

"Frederick Blair was born 1874 in CarlisleOntario, the son of Scottish parents. In 1903 he joined the Department of Agriculture and in 1905 he became an immigration officer. In 1924 he became assistant deputy minister of immigration and in 1936 became the director of the Immigration Branch. He was a church elder and a dedicated civil servant who oversaw every aspect of Canadian immigration. He ruled the Immigration Branch with an iron fist… Blair was anti-Semitic, as were many among the Canadian elite of the time. Though he couched his public statements and policies in generalized, protectionist language, Blair's letters and private conversations, quoted extensively inNone Is Too Many, reveal his distaste for Jews… While the government of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was ultimately responsible for Canada's closed-door policy, Blair was the policy's architect and staunch champion… In his 1941 annual report, Blair wrote "Canada, in accordance with generally accepted practice, places greater emphasis on race than upon citizenship". It is a candid and revealing admission of the standards of the time. When he retired in 1943, Frederick Blair was named a Companion of the Imperial Service Order for his long and meritorious service to Canada.” (Wikipedia)
 
As you can see, it was not just beliefs of civil servants and governments of the day, but a general Canadian feeling to be very anti-immigrant.
Over the next 50 to 75 years Canada changed remarkably.  Much of the change was championed by the very progressive Liberal governments of Pearson, and Trudeau.  Minority rights were brought to the forefront of the Canadian conversation.  The freedom struggles of African-Americans helped foster a conversation in Canada as well.  
Meanwhile, refugees and immigrants to Canada have become invaluable assets to this great nation: 
"Between 1979 and 1981, Canada accepted 60,000 “boat people” from Southeast Asia. Within a decade, 86% of those former refugees were working, healthy and spoke English with some proficiency, achieving the basic criteria for success set out by academic Morton Beiser in his landmark study of their integration into Canadian society. They were less likely to use social services and more likely to have jobs than the average Canadian. One in five was self-employed. They weren’t a drain on the taxpayer—theywere taxpayers… This mirrors the experience in Germany, where a 2012 study found residents with foreign citizenship paid $218 billion more in taxes than they received in social benefits. German officials have been smart to cast their willingness to accept a half-million asylum seekers each year as not just a humanitarian gesture, but as wise economic policy. “We will profit from this, too, because we need immigration,” said Andrea Nahles, the country’s labour minister.(Canadian Business Magazine)”. 
 
The Conference Board of Canada indicates that we will need to attract 350,000 new immigrants a year by the year 2035, in order to sustain our economy and standard of living.  There is a real need for migrants and refugees - not just to make Canada a more interesting and diverse nation, but for well-substantiated economic reasons as well.
 
As a foundation commemorating the tragic series of events of 1914, and solely pursuing an OFFICIAL APOLOGY ON THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS (AND ENTRY INTO HANSARD), it is imperative that we not only recount the tragic history of the past, but continue to fight for the values that will ensure that the racist policies leading to it never happen again.
 
The Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation has been seeking an official apology in the House of Commons for over 20 years. WE are the only organization single-mindedly pursuing this goal.  There is a long history of ‘feigned’ apologies and false promises, as well as valiant attempts to extract said apology from governments of the day.  Here are some of the key events (from Wikipedia):
 
"In response to calls for the government of Canada to address historic wrongs involving immigration and wartime measures, the Conservative government in 2006 created the community historical recognition program to provide grant and contribution funding for community projects linked to wartime measures and immigration restrictions and a national historical recognition program to fund federal initiatives, developed in partnership with various groups. The announcement was made on June 23, 2006, at the time Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized in the House of Commons for the head tax against Chinese immigrants.[13]
 
On August 6, 2006, Prime Minister Harper made a speech at the Ghadri Babiyan da Mela (Festival of the Ghadar Party) in Surrey, B.C., where he stated that the government of Canada acknowledged the Komagata Maru incident and announced the government's commitment to "undertake consultations with the Indo-Canadian community on how best to recognize this sad moment in Canada's history."[14]
 
On April 3, 2008, Ruby Dhalla, MP for Brampton—Springdale, tabled motion 469 (M-469) in the House of Commons which read, "That, in the opinion of the House, the government should officially apologize to the Indo-Canadian community and to the individuals impacted in the 1914 Komagata Maru incident, in which passengers were prevented from landing in Canada."[15]
 
On May 10, 2008, Jason Kenney, Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), announced the Indo-Canadian community would be able to apply for up to $2.5 million in grants and contributions funding to commemorate the Komagata Maru incident.[16]
 
Following further debate on May 15, 2008, Dhalla's motion was passed by the House of Commons.[17]
 
On May 23, 2008, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia unanimously passed a resolution "that this Legislature apologizes for the events of May 23, 1914, when 376 passengers of the Komagata Maru, stationed off Vancouver harbour, were denied entry by Canada. The House deeply regrets that the passengers, who sought refuge in our country and our province, were turned away without benefit of the fair and impartial treatment befitting a society where people of all cultures are welcomed and accepted."[18]
 
On August 3, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared at the 13th annual Ghadri Babiyan Da Mela (festival) in Surrey, B.C., to issue an apology for theKomagata Maru incident. He said, in response to the House of Commons motion calling for an apology by the government, "On behalf of the government of Canada, I am officially conveying as prime minister that apology."[19][20] 
 
(Of course many)... were unsatisfied with the apology as they expected it to be made in Parliament. Secretary of State Jason Kenney said, "The apology has been given and it won't be repeated," thus settling the matter for the federal government.[21]
 
As an example of how Canadian society has changed, the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own), which was involved in the expulsion of theKomagata Maru, was commanded by a Sikh, Harjit Sajjan, from 2011 until 2014.[22]"
 

As of this writing, there is a promise - from the newly elected Liberal Government of Justin Trudeau - to offer an official apology on the floor of the House of Commons.  We look forward to sharing this momentous occasion with Canadians everywhere, but the work of the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation will continue.  We will continue to seek justice for migrants and those who have sacrificed to make a better life for their families.  We will continue to champion the cause of our pioneers, and hard-working elders who have made this new homeland what it is.  We will continue to educate and inform, to ensure that tragedies such as the ‘Komagata Maru Affair’ never occur again in this great land, and to ensure that the rich resource of migration (via normal or refugee channels) continues to help build our nation.

Prof Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation Logo

Add your reaction Share