I will not forget the victims of Air India and neither should you

I will not forget the victims of Air India and neither should you

By Shachi Kurl, President

I wasn’t going to write this piece. After all, 2022’s National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism is in the rear view now. The politicians have made their statements. The news cycle moves on to inflation. To Ukraine. To Roe v. Wade. But maybe, sometimes, we need more time.

As a pollster, I keep forgetting to ask Canadians to identify what they think represents the origins of this day of remembrance. Professionally, it breaks a rule to speculate, but if I were to guess, I’d say significant proportions of people in this country think the worst incident of terrorism perpetrated on Canadian citizens was 9/11. Others might think of the Nova Scotia shootings, the attack on Parliament Hill, or something else.

It was in fact, the bombing of the Air India Flight 182, and the coordinated bombing of a CP jetliner in Tokyo. These attacks killed 331 people. The vast majority – 280 – were Canadian.

I was a child when it happened. But I remember how news organizations didn’t know how to cover the killings as a Canadian story. The bombing had happened off the coast of Ireland. The plane belonged to the government of India. The prime minister of the day, Brian Mulroney, called then-Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi to express condolences for India’s loss. The narrative at the time: A sad, bad, scary thing had happened to people who were mostly “East Indian.” Some people here in Canada were affected.

That was it. That was the story for a long, long time.

Did you know that no one has been convicted of the conspiracy to kill almost 300 of our fellow citizens? One person did jail time for buying the bomb components, but neither Crown nor RCMP ever built a solid enough case to convict the masterminds. Also, it took 20 years to get to trial.

Read more from the article in the Ottawa Citizen here.

Image – Aaron Lynett/Postmedia