Sonny Assu.jpg

Sonny Assu

Installation, All India Sweets in the “Punjabi Market”at 49th and Main Street



Welcoming Those They Did Not Want (2017) was created in recognition of those that the colonial state of Canada turned away.


The Komagata Maru, a Japanese steam-ship which left Hong Kong in 1914 and destined for Vancouver was filled with 376 passengers from British held Punjab. The passengers were mostly Sikh, who, perhaps, were looking to Canada to escape their own colonial subjugation. Upon their arrival in Vancouver, only 24 were allowed permitted entry into Canada. The 352 passangers that were denied entry in Canada, based on their ethnicity, were forced to return to India where the were met by British Indian forces; 19 were killed and a riot ensued.  "As we reflect on the colonial state of Canada's 150 anniversary," Assu tells us, "we need to question what it is exactly that we are celebrating. Instances like the Komagata Maru, the Japanese internment, the Chinese Head Tax and the legacy of genocide against the First people are blights on Canada's perceived rosy image. As an Liǥwildaʼx̱w person, indigenous to this colonized land, Canada 150 means something different to me. It isn't about cake, balloons and the celebration of how this county came to be. It's about acknowledging our horrific past, so we can learn from it and make a society truly worthy of reconciliation."