media release

Library to create digital resource on Komagata Maru

July 20, 2011

Brian Owen, 778.782.7095;

The Simon Fraser University Library will oversee the creation of a digital interactive website that re-tells the story of the Komagata Maru, a ship whose 376 passengers from the Punjab arrived in Vancouver in 1914 only to be denied entry.

Canada’s exclusion laws sent the ship and all but 20 of the would-be immigrants back to India where, after six months of confinement on the ship, many were shot or imprisoned.

The library will receive nearly $500,000 — most from Citizenship and Immigration Canada — to create the resource site.

The project brings together documents from archives in Ottawa, Victoria and Vancouver, including primary source materials such as papers, legal documents and photos, and supplementary materials from the period, including interviews, poetry, novels and artwork from public and private collections.

It will also include an interactive version of SFU history professor Hugh Johnston’s book, The Voyage of the Komagata Maru, and an online index to related personal papers, photos and reminiscences from the South Asian community. Texts will be available in both English and Punjabi.

Brian Owen, project director and librarian, says the project must be objective and balanced and provide all the facts and implications of the story.

SFU’s Teaching and Learning Centre will design the site while Roland Case of the Critical Thinking Consortium will prepare teaching plans and learning modules.

Barbara Winter, head of the SFU Museum of Anthropology, will help select material to create a narrative that teaches, rather than simply amassing content accessed by search tools.


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