Tuesday, May 29, 2012 – 7:30pm

Gladstone Hotel, Main Ballroom, 1214 Queen Street West



Join author and award-winning filmmaker, Ali Kazimi and Professor of Law, Audrey Macklin for an interview, a Q&A, and an illustrated presentation about one of the most infamous episodes in Canadian history at the launch of Kazimi’s new book, Undesirables, White Canada and The Komagata Maru. Presented by This Is Not a Reading Series, D&M Publishers and the Gladstone Hotel. Co-presented by Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), Centre for Refugee Studies, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, The Centre for Feminist Research, York Centre for Asian Research, York’s South Asian Studies program, United South Asians at York and No One Is Illegal.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Gladstone Hotel, Main Ballroom,
1214 Queen Street West 
Doors open at 7 pm; Event begins at 7:30 pm
Admission is $5 or FREE with purchase of a book

UNDESIRABLES: White Canada and the Komagata Maru — An Illustrated History
In May 1914, the Komagata Maru, a ship carrying 376 immigrants from British India, was turned away when it tried to land in Vancouver harbour. Many of the men on board, veterans of the British Indian Army, believed it was their right to settle anywhere in the empire they had fought to defend. They were wrong. Enforcing the “continuous journey” regulation, immigration boats surrounded the ship a half-mile off shore, making the passengers virtual prisoners. Thus began a dramatic stand-off that would escalate over the next two months, becoming one of the most infamous events in Canadian history.

Why would Canada turn away these South Asian migrants when it had accepted more than 400,000 immigrants the previous year? Why were some of the passengers killed upon their forced return to India? How did this ship pose a threat to the mightiest empire the world had ever known? In Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru, award-winning filmmaker Ali Kazimi addresses these and other provocative questions, creating a historical framework that allows readers to view events through the eyes of earlier South Asian migrants to Vancouver, authorities of the Dominion of Canada, and imperial officials in Britain and India. At the heart of the story lies the struggle between Canada’s desire to build a homogenous nation of white immigrants–preferably from Britain and northern Europe–and the British empire’s need for stability.

Weaving text together with rarely seen photographs, key documents and other striking visual materials, Kazimi explores what the current federal government has acknowledged as a “dark chapter” in Canada’s past. By setting the story in a global context and against the early histories of Chinese, Japanese and African-American immigrants to Canada, he  shows that the Komagata Maru “incident” was far from incidental. Today, with Canada’s immigration and refugee framework under intense scrutiny, the story of the Komagata Maru is all the more relevant.

Ali Kazimi is a Toronto-based filmmaker. Born and raised in India, he came to Canada in 1983. Since then, his documentaries have been screened and broadcast internationally to critical acclaim. Continuous Journey, his 2004 feature documentary investigating the events surrounding the Komagata Maru, has won garnered awards on three continents to date. Kazimi is an associate professor in the Department of Film at York University.

Audrey Macklin is currently a Professor of Law at University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. Her teaching areas include administrative law, criminal law, immigration and refugee law, law and multiculturalism, and business and human rights. Prior to joining U of T, she was a Member of the Immigration and Refugee Board, she taught at Dalhousie Law School and she clerked for Madame Justice Bertha Wilson.

Prof. Macklin has participated in human rights fact-finding missions to Sudan (Harker Mission, 1999) and Israel/Palestinian Territories (2003).  She represented interveners before the Supreme Court of Canada in Suresh (Canadian Arab Federation) and both Omar Khadr appeals (Human Rights Watch). She also attended Military Commission hearings in Guantanamo Bay in the case of Omar Khadr as an observer for Human Rights Watch.

She researches, lectures and writes widely in the fields of migration and citizenship law, and human rights as they pertain to national security, corporate social responsibility and [non]-citizenship. She is published in journals such as Refuge and Canadian Woman Studies, and in collections of essays such as The Security of Freedom: Essays on Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Bill and Engendering Forced Migration. For a complete list of Professor Macklin’s published works, visi here.

This Is Not A Reading Series (TINARS) offers a ground-breaking theatrical dimension to the appreciation of fine writing. Employing music, comedy, psychodrama, dance, multimedia performance, lectures, dialogue—everything but reading—TINARS investigates the creative process behind literary works.


Publisher Contact: Corina Eberle, D&M Publishers, phone: 416-537-2501 ext. 225;;

This Is Not A Reading Series: Anna Withrow, phone: 416-805-2174,