The Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation of Canada is a non-partisan organization with a wide-ranging mandate. Promoting freedom and democracy, protecting human rights, bridging cultural diversity and building cultural harmony are central to the Foundation’s purposes. The values captured in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other global and regional commitments are consistent with the values upon which the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation was founded. The Foundation supports those persons and community organizations who long to live in freedom and under democracy. The Foundation uses a wide range of tools to advance its goals, including cultural events such as the “Gadri Babian Da” Mela, community outreach activities and partnerships with local, provincial and federal governments, non- governmental organizations, and individual citizens who share similar goals.
The Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation is one of a very few organizations with the necessary credibility to play a bridge-building role in the South-Asian community.The Foundation is committed to an open society where mutual respect and understanding are honored, differences are respected and traditions are cherished. The Foundation advocates on behalf of all victims of the Komagata Maru tragedy, regardless of religion, race or ethnicity. Members of the Foundation include current and past members of Parliament, and Provincial and municipal leaders.
The Foundation holds the annual “Gadri Babiyan Da” Mela in Surrey, British Columbia every year. The Mela is in its 21st year, and is attended by folk singers, dancers, entertainers (from US, India and other parts of Canada) and local dignitaries and politicians. Hundreds of volunteers help the Foundation host the 'Mela' in Bear Creek Park in Surrey every August Long Weekend. This festival typically hosts 70,000+ guests every year, including Prime Ministers and Federal Cabinet Ministers, Bollywood and Punjabi entertainment superstars, and many foreign and local dignitaries.
The Mela is dedicated to the men and women of multiple cultures and faith groups who fought for democracy and human rights. This event reminds Canadians of our commitment to an open society where mutual respect and understanding are honored, differences are respected and traditions are cherished. The festivities taking place on this day provide our community with a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the rich heritage and traditions of Indian culture, contributing to cross cultural understanding and an appreciation of our multicultural population.
The Position of the Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation on the Komagata Maru Injustice
The tragedy of the Komagata Maru marks a dark chapter in Canadian history. The South-Asian-Canadian community is very hopeful that the Canadian Federal Government will provide closure for the tragedy. Our assessment through extensive feedback from the community is that the Government needs to initiate the following actions to enable the community to begin a healing process:
- The Federal Government needs to issue an outright apology in the Canadian Parliament
- A Living Memorial to create and maintain structures and practices that promotes acceptance, understanding and inclusion of all people regardless of race, religion, gender or color.
- 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).
The Foundation also advocates the recognition of Canadians, both South-Asian-Canadians and from the community at large, who played a very important and positive role during the 2 month-long ordeal for passengers of the Komagata Maru in Burrard Inlet. It should not be forgotten that many Canadians helped and provided moral support based upon human rights to passengers of Komagata Maru passengers.
On the basis of principles of human rights, freedom, fairness and equality, the Komagata Maru tragedy is a very sensitive issue for the South-Asian-Canadian community. This tragedy needs to be addressed urgently with input and support from South-Asian-Canadians. The Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation of Canada is committed to resolving this matter by working with the Government of Canada and engaging the community.