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The 1985 Air India bombings was the worst act of aviation terrorism in world history at that time. It resulted in the longest and most expensive criminal investigations in Canadian history.
The investigations revealed that the bombings were planned and executed on Canadian soil.
PHOTO BY ANDY CLARK/REUTERS
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATION REPORT
Following the acquittal of Malik and Bagri, in March 2005, Bob Rae (former Ontario premier), was appointed to provide independent advice to the Minister of Public Safety on whether there remain outstanding questions of public interest.
In November 2005, Rae submitted his federal investigation report recommending that a focused, policy-based inquiry be held to deal with questions from this mass murder that remain unresolved, such as Canada’s assessment of the threat, the role of intelligence and police forces in managing the investigation and airport safety regulations.
Describing the Air India bombing as “a profoundly Canadian event,” Rae’s report recommended that families should be provided with the necessary resources to have input into the inquiry.
On May 1, 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the launch of an inquiry into the investigation of the Flight 182 bombing, by retired Supreme Court Justice John C. Major. The Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182 submitted its final, 5-volume report.
The inquiry concluded that the bombing was “a Canadian Tragedy” and “the largest mass murder in Canadian history” with recommendations to make amends to victims’ families for the poor treatment they received in the tragedy’s aftermath.
Read the final report
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THE FAMILIES REMEMBER
Prior to the beginning of the official inquiry, families and witnesses were invited to present their testimonies before the Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182.
This preliminary report was published as The Families Remember. It includes personal stories about victims and rescuers, the response of the people of Cork in Ireland, Canada’s response to the bombing, and the continuing grief of family members.
Read the complete report
PHOTO BY RICK EGLINTON/TORONTO
EXPERT WITNESS TESTIMONY
Dr. Sherene H. Razack’s expert witness testimony for the Inquiry was commissioned by a lawyer for the families of those killed in the bombings on whether or not systemic racism played a role in the pre-bombing threat assessment, as well as in the post-bombing response.
This report is not included in the official 5-volume report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182. It is included here to fill the gap in the official government archive.
Sherene H. Razack,. “The Impact of Systemic Racism on Canada’s Pre-Bombing Threat Assessment and Post-Bombing Response to the Air India Bombing. Report submitted to the Inquiry of the Bombing of Air India, 2007. Remembering Air India: The Art of Public Mourning, edited by Chandrima Chakraborty, Amber Dean, and Angela Failler, U of Alberta Press, 2017, pp. 85-117.
On June 23, 2010, six days after the release of the scathing public inquiry report, PM Stephen Harper offered a formal apology on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians at the Humber Bay Park, Etobicoke, Ontario, Air India memorial site.
The federal government apology came on the 25th anniversary of the bombings.
THE KANISHKA PROJECT
In 2011, the Kanishka Project was launched, named after the Air India Boeing 747 that was bombed on June 23, 1985. The airplane was named after the Kushan dynasty emperor Kanishka.
It was a research initiative to fund communities of multidisciplinary researchers that would address the intelligence gaps that were, in part, responsible for the bombing of Air India Flight 182, as well as domestic and foreign terror threats that emerged following the events on September 11, 2001.