Introducing Komagata Maru Lesson Plans for K-12 Students

The Komagata Maru Lesson Plans Project was initiated in 2023, with support from the City of Abbotsford as part of their commitment to public education about the role of Abbotsford residents in 1914 regarding the fate of the Komagata Maru. The South Asian Studies Institute installed a permanent outdoor exhibit titled ‘Challenge and Denial-Komagata Maru 100 Years Later 1914-2014’ at the Sikh Heritage Museum located within the National Historic Site, Gur Sikh Temple in Abbotsford, BC. The exhibit launched on January 26th, 2014, and continues to educate the community on the history of the Komagata Maru and the resilience of Sikh immigrants in Canada.

Critically important education on the Komagata Maru is in action with lesson plans created in 2011 by members of Simon Fraser University’s Komagata Maru Project Management team and members of the Critical Thinking Consortium (TC2) for K-12 school students. With a total of six lesson plans, the project encourages students to examine key facts and events behind the Komagata Maru tragedy. Furthermore, it challenges students to engage in discussions and think critically about the event while learning about the biographies of key people such as Gurdit Singh, the man who chartered the ship to come to Canada.

On July 22nd, 2023, Mr. Raj Singh Toor of the descendants of the Komagata Maru Society was on hand at the renaming of a section of South Fraser Way to Komagata Maru Way alongside the City of Abbotsford Mayor, Council members and Dr. Satwinder Bains. The City of Abbotsford commemorated the Komagata Maru tragedy by commissioning three commemorative plaques at the Sikh Heritage Museum and the renaming of a portion of South Fraser Way.

SASI has curated information panels on Abbotsford’s connection to Komagata Maru on the grounds of the Gur Sikh Temple, Abbotsford BC. The panels present the important social and economic role that the Gur Sikh Temple and the Abbotsford Sikh community played during the early 1900’s. The Gur Sikh temple was a place of support for new migrants, and a center for human rights advocacy. Sikh migrants living in Abbotsford financially supported a legal challenge against the government to give the 356 remaining Komagata Maru passengers the right to stay in Canada.

The Komagata Maru was a tragic and critical moment in Canada’s history, highlighting the racial discrimination and exclusionary immigration policies. In support of the educational lesson plans, ‘From Exclusion to Inclusion’ exhibit and the renaming of South Fraser Way to the Komagata Maru Way, we are committed to educating the future generations on South Asian Canadian history to ensure that the Komagata Maru tragedy continues being studied as a crucial event in Canadian history.