Cheque presentation in Toronto for surviving head tax payer
The first stage for the Chinese head tax redress, of ex-gratia payments for surviving head tax payers, continued with a cheque presentation in Toronto today.
The next stage will include payments to surviving spouses of pre-deceased head tax payers. This will include several of my maternal grandmother's sisters who live in the Toronto area. Even though my grandmother and her 13 siblings were born in Canada, my grandmother and her sisters married men who paid the head tax and came to Canada, prior to the Chinese “Exclusion Act” of 1923.
Payments to surviving head tax payers and spouses will amount to 0.6 % of a total 81,000 head tax certificates, as many payers and spouses have long since passed away. The government says they will not give ex-gratia payments to the estates of the head tax familes, but the Chinese Canadian National Council is asking for all head tax certificates to be treated equally.
In my own family, both of my father's parents died during the 1960's. His father arrived in Canada at age 16, around 1882. My father's mother arrived in Canada around 1910 at age 16, after the Chinese head tax had been raised to $500 in 1903.
Victor Wong, executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council writes the following:
Minister Oda presented cheques to 4 individuals who made it in person Bing Yen Tom, Betty Fong (Lee Toy Kew), Frank (Poy Fong) Lim and Gook Fung Tom (see govt news release).
Colleen, Joseph and I represented CCNC, Karen and Kristyn were there from CCNCTO, George, Susan, Har Ying, Doug, Binh and Rebecca from Ontario Coalition and many of our volunteers. We invited Jack and Maria from CCCO (CBC-Canada). I think there were 17 people present from our end and there were a handful of representatives of the Congress as well.
Some media questions (actually most) were on the issue of descendants redress. The Minister reiterated the Govt position and seemed quite firm that the door was closed.
CCNC and redress groups will continue to press the federal Government to redress all head tax families. The June 22nd redress announcement covers just over 10% of the head tax families registered with us and represents only 0.6% of all of the individuals who paid the Chinese Head Tax or Newfoundland Head Tax.
CCNC continues to work with other redress groups including the Ontario Coalition of Chinese Head Tax Payers and Families (Ontario Coalition) and Head Tax Families Society of Canada (formerly the B.C. Coalition of Head Tax Payers, Spouses and Descendants) in the campaign to redress the Chinese Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act.