Head Tax cheque finally ready for Mrs. Der; PM & Kenney to apologize to family
sad to think that it took the death of the oldest surviving head tax
spouse to galvinize the Conservative Government and Heritage Canada
into action over the long-delayed ex-gratia payments to head tax
I know that many of my colleagues in
the head tax redress movement are greatly saddened this past week by
the passing of both Mrs Quon Chung Shee Der in Vancouver and Mr. Ralph
Lee in Toronto. From coast to coast, people have been recalling
stories of Mrs. Der climbing 2 flights of stairs to attend an
information meeting back in November 2005, or of Mr. Lee wheeling
around parliament in his wheelchair on June 22, 2006 – the of the
While many of us were too young
to have been born during the time of head tax or exclusion act
(1885-1947), we have heard many of our parents and grandparents tell
their stories or refuse to talk about hard times and racism. We
have seen the younger generation rise up during the 1980's asking for
head tax redress.
already been a few months since my own grandmother and her sister
received acknowledgement that their spousal claims had been
received. And that was after months of spouses asking how and
when they could claim. The problems were that Heritage Canada and
the bureaucrats and their lawyers couldn't agree on how to
proceed. They harangued over the definition of spouse. They
wondered about the possibility of multiple wives. They questioned
how and if conjugal relations defined a spouse.
family friends and head tax activists Daniel and Cynthia Lee first
learned of Mrs. Der's passing and immediately left voice and e-mail
messages for Mr. Kenney, PM Stephen Harper, Libby Davies, Jas Johal of
Global National TV and other friends. They also contacted Heritage
Canada to ask if her cheque could be processed immediately. In
the chinese tradition of burning fake paper money so the deceased could
take it with them to the after-life, the Der family wished that Mrs.
Der could take a photocopy of the head tax cheque to show her deceased
husband. It was Daniel and Cynthia Lee, as well as CCNC
National Chair Sid Tan that were interviewed by Global News on Sunday
morning – not former Liberal MLA Patrick Wong, who is claiming
that he pursuaded Jason Kenney and Prime Minister Harper to send a
letter of apology to the Der family.
This is the first time many
of the head tax activists have heard the name Patrick Wong associated
with head tax. Patrick Wong has not ever been seen at any of the
previous head tax rallies, meetings or protests over the past two
years. It would have been nice if Wong had offered to the Der
family to help them, but I have only heard of Wong calling media
outlets telling them that he had played a role in asking Jason Kenney
and Prime Minister Harper to write an apology letter to the Der
family. Hopefully Wong can become a positive advocate for the
continued redress of all head tax certificates with refunds to
descendants whose parents and grandparents predeceased the Conservative
apology and redress program before they could see repayment, and not
just a political opportunist at the time of passing sorrow.
The following is from www.chineseinvancouver.blogspot.com
Following the death of the oldest surviving head tax spouse Mrs Quon Chung Shee Der (謝關仲樹), who was regretful for not being able to see the head tax refund cheque the minute before she died, the federal government now says her cheque has been approved and will be mailed to her family before her funeral.
Wong, a former BC Liberal MLA who is now seeking Tory nomination in
Richmond, claimed he was touched by Mrs Der's story and had persuaded
PM Stephen Harper and minister of state for multiculturalism Jason
Kenney to write an apology letter to Mrs Der's family for the delay of
At first, Mrs Der's friends and family thought the
cheque would not arrive for another while and asked Heritage Canada to
issue a fake compensation cheque to be buried with Mrs Der. They knew
Mrs Der would want to carry the cheque to meeting her husband in
heaven, who paid the head tax.
with the government said Mrs Der's cheque has been approved for some
time. It was only waiting to be signed. The bureaucratic red tape was
the main reason for the delay. Bureaucrats have been debating whether
“conjugal partners” should be compensated.
marriage registration wasn't the norm during the 1900s among the
Chinese. But the bureaucrats were insisting on the technical debate.
Critics have been saying that it took much longer for the head tax spouses than the payers to get the compensation cheques.
Canada yesterday said processing of the first batch of head tax
spouses' applications is now complete and cheques will be mailed out in
a short while.