Remembrance Day Service at Victory Square Cenotaph, Vancouver BC.
Lots of Army, Airforce, Navy, cadet,
veteran and even RCMP uniforms at Victory Square, Vancouver BC along
Hastings and Cambie streets, stand at attention. – photo Todd Wong
The rain held off for the Remembrance Day ceremony at Victory Square,
Vancouver BC. With the war in Afghanistan, there is special
significance… but for the Chinese-Canadian veterans
there is a very
special significance because of the head tax apology by Prime Minister
Harper and the government of Canada. For many many years, the
veterans asked for an apology for the head tax, without a
response. Each year they saw their numbers dwindling, as more of the veterans passed on.
But in the “Year of the Veteran,” they wrangled an
“acknowledgement” and community funding from the Liberal
government. Although there was no “apology” or “head tax refund,” this subsequently turned into an election issue, and
the newly elected Conservative government promised an apology for the
Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act.
The Chinese Canadian veterans of
Pacific Unit 280 are lead by past president Ed Lee. 92 year old
John Ko Bong walks with a cane now. Alex Louie (with beige sweater and
6th from left) was featured in the film documentary “Unwanted
Soldiers,” about how Canada originally did not want to have Canadian
born Chinese as soldiers. – photo Nick Lum
Rememberance Day services are always special for the
Chinese-Canadian veterans because by enlisting and serving for Canada,
they helped to ensure that Canadians born of Chinese descent had the
right and enfranchisement to vote. This was given in 1947, the
same year that the Chinese “Exclusion Act” was repealed. I have 4 grand uncles and one uncle that served in WW2. All returned to Canada safely. My maternal grandmother's younger brothers Daniel, Howard and Leonard Lee, plus their cousin Victor Wong, are all grandsons of Rev. Chan Yu Tan, who came to Canada in 1896. My father's elder brother James Wong also served, and was sent to the Pacific Theatre. Their father Wong Wah arrived in Canada in 1882.
are close ups of 92 year old John Ko Bong, and Ed Lee of Pacific Unit
280. They are good friends of my grand-uncle
Daniel Lee, currently president for PU 280. – photo Nick Lum.
But this year, I also knew many more ceremony participants.
Cameron Cathcart is chair of the 2006 Rememberance Day Observance
Committee, and was also commentator for the event. Andre Greenwood or
the Vancouver Fire Department Band sang “Land of Hope and
Glory.” A wreath was laid by the Canadian Club Vancouver
president Dr. Jean Watters and vice-president Renee Popov. It was
just last Friday Nov. 3rd when we celebrated the Canadian Club
Vancouver’s 100th Anniversary at the Westin Bayshore, with Cam Cathcart
presideing as MC, with the first public presentation of the Richardson
This year the Canadian
Club of Vancouver laid a wreath to acknowledge it's 100th
anniversary. CC member Cam Cathcart chaired and commentated the
Victory Square ceremonies – photo Todd Wong
Seaforth Highlanders posed with
Christine Chin and Todd Wong. Of course, we invited these two
fine men in kilts to our “Kilts Night” events at Doolin's – photo Sean
While the ceremony can be sombre and thoughful, there is much pageantry
with the pipes and drums of the many participating organizations.
After the official ceremonies, we examined the wreaths that had been
laid, and we wathced the regiments march out. We even discovered
a bagpiper of Asian descent…. playing in the BC regiment of Irish
Pipes and Drums. Hmmm…. maybe we will have to invite him to
Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year dinner.
Look! Chinese (or Asian) bagpiper! – photo Todd Wong
For more pictures taken by my friend Nick Lum