Georgia Straight: Asian-history anniversaries begin to coalesce (by Charlie Cho)

Chinese Canadian history is alive and well in Vancouver and really beginning a renaissance.  The Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC (I am a member) is active.  The Vancouver Public Library has been doing great stuff with their Chinese Canadian genealogy website.  The Chinatown Revitalization Committee is active.  And the BC Coalition of Head Tax Payers, Spouses and Familes are active.

Check this nice article by Charlie Cho in the Georgia Straight.  Charlie interviews leading Vancouver Chinatown historians such as Dr. Henry Yu of UBC, and Jim Wong-Chu.

They talk about the historic Anti-Asian riots in 1907 by the Anti-Asiatic League of Vancouver.  It was a scary night in Vancouver. A while back, I talked with tailor Bill Wong of Modernize Tailors, and he referred to it as Vancouver's own “Crystal Night” because so many store windows were broken.

Analysis

Asian-history anniversaries begin to coalesce

By charlie cho

History is never neutral. Framing is everything. Take Vancouver’s anti-Asian riots of 1907.

On
September 7 of that year, the Asiatic Exclusion League led a parade to
City Hall at Main and Hastings streets, calling for an end to Asian
immigration to British Columbia. More than 8,000 people, including
local politicians, labour leaders, and members of fraternal
organizations, rallied with banners reading Stand for a White Canada.

Only
2,000 could fit in City Hall, so crowds drifted to Chinatown, a block
away. A rock thrown through a store window touched off a rampage of
smashed signs and glass, and looting that continued into neighbouring
Japantown, where the crowd faced some resistance before police showed up to quell the violence.

In
the following days, Chinese and Japanese armed themselves with guns,
preparing for another siege. They held a general strike, refusing to go
to their jobs in homes, restaurants, and mills.

William
Lyon Mackenzie King, then federal deputy minister of labour, held
hearings on the riot. Almost a year later, damages were awarded:
$26,000 to the Chinese, $9,000 to the Japanese.

Henry Yu, an
associate professor of history at UBC, sees 2007 not just as the 100th
anniversary of the 1907 riots but marking three other key years in the
history of Asian immigration to Pacific Canada: 1947, 1967, and 1997.

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