Surviving sons and daughters need to be included for Chinese Head Tax settlement.
No other ethnic group was charged a head tax.
The govt repealed the racist “Chinese Exclusion Act” in 1947 and also
finally gave Canadians born with Chinese heritage the vote.
govt apologized for Japanese Canadians interned during WW2 in 1988. Four
years earlier, Chinese Head Tax Redress had been brought to Parliament in 1984 by MP Margaret Mitchell,
but rejected by the Trudeau govt.
An apology for Chinese Head Tax
finally came 22 years later in 2006, but it was 86 years after the last
head tax was paid in 1923, and 121 years after the first head tax was
paid in 1885. Giving ex-gratia payments only to the few surviving head
tax payers and widows while ignoring the other 99% of head tax
certificates passed onto surviving sons and daughters is wrong.
impossible to expect my great-grandfather to live to be 130 years old to
receive his “tax refund”. The payment should go to his remaining 7
children who are 99 to 85 years old, all born in Canada and had to live
through the years of The Exclusion Act until 1947.
Head tax redress was not enough say
97 year old Thomas Soon (L) and 99 year
old Charlie Quon hold government cheques, the first redress payments to
Chinese Head Tax payers in Vancouver, BC, October 20, 2006. Lyle Stafford for The Globe and
Canada Day rally planned for Vancouver’s
Vancouver — Globe and Mail Update Published on Wednesday, Jun. 30, 2010 5:05PM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, Jun. 30, 2010
Canada’s apology to
the Chinese community for the head tax from 1885 to 1923 was not enough,
say descendants of those who paid the tax.
Ottawa said sorry to
the Chinese community four years ago and gave $20,000 to those who had
paid the head tax or to their surviving spouse.
But members of the Head Tax
Families Society of Canada say the federal
government excluded thousands
of Chinese families who were affected by the historic injustices and
Ottawa should rethink its approach to redress.
The children of those who paid the
tax but did not live long enough to hear the apology received nothing
and still feel left out, Sid Tan, head of the Head Tax Families Society
of Canada, said Wednesday in an interview on the day before a “redress
rally” planned for Vancouver’s Chinatown.
“The apology was not as meaningful
to us as it was to other [Chinese families],” said Mr. Tan, the
grandson of a head tax payer. “The federal government left out a large
chunk of people and you have to find some way you can meaningfully
provide redress for them.”
The federal government
acknowledged less than one per cent of families who had paid the head
tax, he said. Payments were made to about 800 people although more than
82,000 Chinese immigrants paid the tax from 1885 to 1923.
The rally on Canada Day is
intended as a celebration of being Canadian while reminding the federal
government that the issue is not closed, Mr. Tan said.
Victor Wong, executive director of
the Chinese Canadian National Council, an umbrella group with 27
chapters across the country, said 3,000 families across Canada are still
seeking to be included in the apology and payment that was made in
His grandfather, who immigrated to
Canada in 1912, could not bring his wife and four children until 1947,
he said. Mr. Wong said he is the family’s first Canadian-born grandson,
born 47 years after his grandfather arrived on the West Coast. “Family
formation was discouraged,” he said.
Redress that included the children
of those who felt the impact of the discriminatory policies would set
the tone for governments, prodding them to ensure that policies and
programs are sensitive to the needs of minorities.
“For an apology to be meaningful,
it needs to include [the children of head tax payers],” said Mr. Wong