Toronto Sun: Recalling two who were heroes
(story of Kew Dock Yip and Irving Himel who launched appeal of Exclusion Act)
is a good story about how the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed
on May 14th, 1947. This would be a good annual celebration
for Chinese Canadians annually. I will mark it on my calendar for
next year which will be the 60th anniversary. Chinese immigration
was still heavily restricted until 1967, but it started the
reunification of families in Chinese Canadian families.
brother's older sister was born in Canada, but went to live with
friends in Hong Kong in 1926, because grandfather's business went
through some tough times. She married a man in Hong Kong, and was
unable to come back to Canada until after the repeal of the Exclusion
Act. She was then able to bring her 6 children to Canada in the
1950's. My cousins are great, and I consider them to be 3rd
generation Canadians like myself because our parents were born in
Canada, and our Grandfather came to Canada when he was 16 years old in
1882. Some of them have made immeasurable contributions to
Vancouver and Canadian society and I consider them my role models.
Recalling two who were
Pair helped kill Chinese Exclusion
By BRODIE FENLON, TORONTO
There was no celebration this week to mark the
59th anniversary of the death of legislation that barred Chinese
immigrants from Canada.
was there a tribute to the two Toronto lawyers who played a key role
in the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act on May 14, 1947.
every Chinese immigrant in Canada owes a debt of gratitude to Kew Dock
Yip and Irving Himel, two lawyers who fought
and lobbied the Ottawa to amend a law that had all but barred Chinese
immigrants since 1923.
“All the new Chinese who are here today don't
know the history,” said Alfie Yip, 60, an
electrical engineer and son of the late Dock Yip. “Both of them were
the time, Himel was already a lawyer and a
civil rights crusader. Dock Yip was a law student at Osgoode Hall on his way to becoming
Canada's first lawyer of
Chinese descent. Both had experienced discrimination, Himel as a Jew.
They were also reservists with the Queen's Own
Rifles of Canada and were sharing a tent in Niagara in the early 1940s when the plan to change
the law was hatched, Alfie said.
Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 was passed by the Liberal government of
William Lyon Mackenzie King.
barred all Chinese immigrants from landing in Canada
except for a few special cases and was enacted on July 1, Dominion Day,
which became known in the Chinese community as “Humiliation Day.”
Instantly, families were divided, some forever.
act replaced the hated Chinese head tax, a toll on Chinese immigrants
that began in 1885 at $50 and peaked at $500 in 1904.
Himel and Yip organized a
committee of 20 people from Ontario and B.C. in 1945. They
gathered petitions and travelled to Ottawa to lobby
the government directly. The act was repealed two years later — the
same year Himel helped found the Canadian
Civil Liberties Association.
was an important contribution to a really hideous thing in Canadian
history,” said Toronto lawyer Bert Raphael, a friend
of Himel's until his death in July 2001. He
and Yip died within a week of each other.
“Too often in this country, we forget our
heroes,” Raphael said.