Category Archives: Chinese Head Tax issues + Gim Wong's Ride for Redress

Daniel Lee Rest in Peace, 1920 – January 26, 2010

Daniel Lee 1920 – January 26, 2010 

2009_Nov_Remembrance_Day 087 by you.
Daniel Lee saluting at
the November 11, 2009 Remembrance Day ceremony in Vancouver Chinatown. 
The Chinese Canadian veterans always attended the Victory Square
Cenotaph ceremonies, which Dan Lee also helped to organize, then they
would go to Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant to stay warm, before organizing the
Chinatown ceremonies at 12:30pm – photo Todd Wong

be a good citizen you got to start at home. Otherwise, a nation is just
like a family.
Everybody got to be happy at home otherwise the nation
would be in trouble.”

– Daniel Lee

With sorrow… we share the news that Grand-Uncle Daniel Lee passed away this morning of January 26th, 2010.  He had been in the Burnaby Hospital since Wednesday.  His daughter Grace,  she said it was quite sudden – his going into the hospital.  I had been receiving reports from my mother Betty, as her mother Mabel (Dan's oldest sister at 99 years old) was visiting the hospital each day.

Uncle Dan was born the 11th child of 14, the 5th son of seven to jeweler Ernest Lee, and Kate Chan Lee – the 2nd child, and 1st daughter of Rev. Chan Yu Tan.  As a young child he spent some time living in Nanaimo with his grandparents Rev. and Mrs. Chan Yu Tan, after the early death of his father.

When Dan was 20 years old he tried to enlist in the Canadian Army, but was turned away because at that time they did not allow any Chinese Canadians.  Instead, he went to aircraft mechanics school in Toronto and graduated two years later.  By 1942, Chinese were allowed into the Army due to pressure from Great Britain.  Dan Lee was one of the the first Chinese-Canadians accepted into the Canadian Air Force.  Soon, he was joined in England, by his brothers Howard and Leonard, plus cousin Victor Wong, who were enroute to the Pacific Theatre to serve with the Army special forces.

In the years after WW2, Dan Lee and his fellow Canadian born veterans would continue to face racial discrimination and prejudice.  The were not allowed to join any of the existing Canadian Legions for veteran soldiers.  They turned to the oldest veteran organization, the Army, Navy, Air Force Vets of Canada and were accepted to form their own unit – Pacific Unit 280.  After
WW2, he and his fellow veterans and good friend Roy Mah, petitioned the
Canadian Government to gain voting rights for Chinese Canadians, and
also to repeal the Chinese Exclusion Act.  This was accomplished in

  Generations Chan Legacy 161 by you.

But the challenges weren't over yet.  Every year Uncle Dan
would write a letter to Ottawa asking for an apology for the Chinese
head tax and exclusion act.  The Chinese head tax redress movement took on a larger significance after MP Margaret Mitchell brought the issue up in Parliament in 1984, and also when Prime Minister Mulroney apologized to Japanese Canadians in 1988 for the the government's interning of them during WW2.

In the 1980's, Dan Lee would continue to work head tax apology issue.  With Douglas Jung, a former veteran, lawyer, Member of
Parliament, and the Chinese Benevolent Association, they proposed that a
national organization be formed to deal with the Head Tax issue.  Dan Lee became one of the founders of the National
Congress of Chinese Canadians(NCCC) and a national conference was held.  After many years, an apology was finally made in Canadian Parliament by Prime Minister Harper in 2006.

In 1998, the Chinese Canadian Military Museum was founded.  Dan Lee's air force uniform was one of the first displays.

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Chinese Canadian Military Museum Dinner November 7, 2009
top row: Bryan Larrabee, grand-nephew Todd Wong, Padre Wesley Lowe
bottom row: niece Rhonda Larrabee, Daniel Lee, sister Mabel Mar

In 1999, we held the first Rev. Chan Legacy Family Reunion.  Uncle Dan was a consultant for the committee.  At the reunion, it was Dan Lee who gave the Elder Address, as he talked about his grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan. 

In 2002, the Rev. Chan Yu Tan family was featured in the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum exhibit “Three Canadian Chinese Pioneer Families”  – pictures of Uncle Dan and the contributions of himself and his brothers and cousin were included.  

In 2007, Dan Lee is one of the lead stories in the film documentary Heroes Remember, produced by the Chinese Canadian Military Museum.

Dan Lee's dedication to community service is exemplary.  In 2004, Dan Lee received the Award of  Merit from Dominion Command.  It is one of the highest honours a veteran can receive.  Uncle Dan told me that to receive an Award of Merit, you must first receive the Medal for
Appreciation, which he received in 1987.  In 1999 he next
received the Award for Service.

And through all these years, Uncle Dan would sell poppies in downtown Vancouver for Remembrance Day, and help organize the Poppy Drive every November.  He was one of the best sellers.  He was also one of the organizers of the Victory Square Cenotaph Remembrance Day ceremonies.  In 2004, Remembrance Day ceremonies began at the Canadian Chinese Pioneer Monument in Chinatown.  The veterans of Unit 280 would attend both Victory Square and Chinatown ceremonies, even if it was raining and cold.

The contributions that Dan Lee made, will last and be remembered, while he will be missed.

We offer support and love to Uncle Dan, his wife Irene, and their children Vincent and Grace.

Peace & Blessings to all, Todd Wong – Vancouver

2009_Nov_CCMM_Dinner 057 by you.

Chinese Canadian Military Museum Dinner November 7, 2009
with fellow veterans of Pacific Unit 280 + Ujjal Dosanjh MP.


As part of his commitment to community, Dan annually organized the poppy campaign in Vancouver. It's not surprising
he was a top-seller. For his community efforts Dan has received many
veteran honours, such as the Award of Appreciation, and Award for
Service – but none higher than the Award of Merit from Dominion Command
in 2004. It's a fitting tribute to the grandson who evidently learned
his values and strong faith in community from his Methodist Church
pioneer, Grandfather Chan Yu Tan.

See VIDEO of Daniel Lee from the Chinese Canadian Military Museum
Lee, one of three brothers to join the war effort, worked as an
aircraft mechanic and went on to a career of dedicated community
service in Canada.

Daniel Lee 1920-2010

Daniel Lee 1920-2010  – picture album on Flickr

Canada Day rally for Chinese Head Tax families: 10:30am Chinatown Monument

Canada Day rally for Chinese Head Tax families: 10:30am Chinatown Monument

This will be the 4th annual Chinatown Redress Rally, since Prime Minister Harper apologized for the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act – but limited redress packages to only surviving head tax payers and their spouses.  This action effectively limited full redress to less than 1% of head tax paying families, as almost all head tax payers had already died.  Many head tax payers passed on their certificates to their children, because they believed the government would make a fair and equal redress someday, and because they believed that Canada was a fair and equal country.  Chinese Canadians have lobbied against head tax since it was legislated in 1885.  After WW2, Chinese Canadian WW2 veterans successfully lobbied for the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1947.  In 1988, a Japanese Canadian Redress package was finally achieved after 4 years of negotiations. The Chinese Head Tax Redress package was never openly negotiated with community groups.

Media Advisory – June 30, 2009

Head Tax Families Celebrate Canada Day With Hot Dogs:
Rally at Monument to Chinese Railway Workers and War Veteran

Vancouver, BC –  Members of Head Tax Families Society of Canada (HTFSC)
and its supporters will celebrate Canada Day with hot dogs in Chinatown.
The Fourth Annual Chinatown Redress Rally maybe remembered as the one
when the hotdogs appeared and the start of a tradition. Head tax families are
proud Canadians exercising their rights of public assembly and speech. They
will call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to start good-faith
negotiations with representatives of head tax families for an inclusive just and
honourable redress

Time:  10:30am members call time – program to begin shortly after
Date:   Wednesday July 1, 2009 – Canada Day
Place: Memorial to Chinese Railway Workers and War Veterans
           Keefer and Columbia (NE corner), Vancouver

The Conservative government's June 22, 2006 Parliamentary apology and
unilaterally imposed redress package excluded most head tax families seeking
direct meaningful symbolic redress. Less than 900 families were eligible for the
ex gratia payments to surviving head tax payers and spouses of deceased head
tax payers. Some 3,000 families have registered with HTFSC and inclusive
redress-seeking groups across Canada calling for justice and honour for
affected elderly sons and daughters whose parents are deceased. Over 82,000
Chinese immigrants paid the head tax from 1885 to 1923, when exclusion
legislation was enacted. Repealed in 1947, the Chinese exclusion laws impoverished and
separated many head tax families for decades.

Members and supporters of Head Tax Families Society of Canada are today's
Canadians on a twenty-six year struggle for an inclusive just and
honourable redress
for affected head tax families.

Go to for more information.

– 30 –

Contact: Sid Tan – 604-783-1853

Tailor Made documentary about Wong family tailor shop is re-broadcast on Knowledge Network

Watch “Tailor Made – the last Chinese tailor shop in Vancouver Chinatown”

'Tailor Made' is being broadcast again in BC on Knowledge Network on the following dates:

  • May 26/2009  10:00PM
  • May 27/2009   2:00AM
  • May 27/2009    7:00PM

“Tailor Made”is a wonderful documentary about the last tailor shop in Vancouver Chinatown.  It opened in 1913.   It made most of the zoot suits in Vancouver during the 1940's.  Sean Connery's picture is there with the tailors Bill and Jack Wong.  It's a Chinatown success story, that mirrors the history of Vancouver Chinatown, as the original tailor had to pay a head tax to come to Vancouver, as his two sons fought for Canada during WW2 when Chinese weren't allowed to vote, as his sons were unabled to get hired as UBC graduated engineers due to still prevailing racist sentiments, and how the youngest son became one of Vancouver's leading philanthropists and cultural leaders.

Bill Wong the tailor loves to attended the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.  His son Steven
paddles on our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  This is a
wonderful documentary that received a standing ovation at the Whistler
Film Festival.

and Jack's younger brother Milton Wong is one of Vancouver's important
figures, and former chancellor of SFU, and known as the “grandfather of
dragon boat racing” in Vancouver.  Both Milton and Steven were
interviewed for a German public television documentary addressing
multiculturalism in Vancouver.  The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat
team was featured too!
Check out:

own family has known the Wongs for many year, my aunts and uncles went
to school with many of the Wong family members.  My uncle Laddie works
as a tailor at Modernize Tailors.

In 2004, both the “Wong Way”
dragon boat team and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team
participated in a workshop to carve dragon boat heads at the Round
House Community Centre.

Check the Modernize Tailors Website:

Tuesday February 12, 2008 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld
A naïve apprentice and a hot, young master tailor are both interested in taking over a legendary tailor shop in Vancouver's Chinatown, but they'll have a hard time convincing the hard-working Wong brothers to retire.

Modernize Tailors opened in 1913, and in the 1950s Bill and Jack Wong
took over from their father. Over the years, they've created suits for
all occasions and for customers from all walks of life-from lumberjacks
and new immigrants to movie stars like Sean Connery and politicians
like Sam Sullivan, then Mayor of Vancouver.

Now, a newer
generation is looking to make their mark and take over the Modernize
Tailors legacy. But will the 85-year-old Wong Brothers ever stop

Tailor Made was directed by Len Lee and Marsha
Newbery, and produced by Marsha Newbery of Realize Entertainment Inc.
It was commissioned by CBC Newsworld.

Knowledge Network: Tailor Made

'Tailor Made' is being broadcast again in BC on Knowledge Network on the following dates:

  • May 26/2009  10:00PM
  • May 27/2009   2:00AM
  • May 27/2009    7:00PM

Vote for “Broken Family” in CBC Radio contest

Donna Lee entered a film in the CBC Radio contest called Migrations.  She is in the semi-final, and needs a push from all you good folks.

I first met Donna during the Head Tax redress campaign.  She did some filming when we protested against then Prime Minister Paul Martin.  Maybe our protesting led to his downfall?  It caught media attention.

Check out Donna's film – which gives the often untold story about how families were separated not only because it was TOO EXPENSIVE to bring a wife or family to Canada (Remember $500 in 1923 would buy a small house), but because the “Chinese Exclusion Act” made it impossible to enter Canada 1923 to 1947, if you were Chinese.  No other ethnic group was specifically targeted.  I guess they knew that Adrienne Clarkson was coming.

Here's the note from Donnna”

As you probably know, Broken Family,
my short documentary on the head tax redress movement and my family, is
in a CBC Radio Canada contest called Migrations.  It's made it to the
semi-final rounds of a people's choice online voting competition. 
Thanks for your support! 

Featuring Harvey Lee, Naiya Lee Tsang, and Sahali Lee Tsang and my
family's Rio Cafe in Souris MB, which I'm sad to say doesn't exist by
that name anymore.

If you are venturing forth on the world wide
web and feel like dropping by the website for another round of voting,
then here's the url:

it's available for viewing for this round from Thurs Nov 20th to the 26th.

There are many other fine shorts on the subject of migration – enjoy!

Many thanks for allowing me space for artist-self-promotion-type-of email.

Hope this finds you well,


Heart of the City Festival: Stories of Chinese food from “Eating Stories” read at Chinese Benevolent Association historical building

The Heart of the City Festival celebrates Chinese food and Chinese buildings – with stories of pioneers and their descendants


Sunday November 2, 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver, 108 E. Pender 3rd floor

2008_Nov2 002

Readings from the book “Eating Stories: A Chinese Canadian & Aboriginal Potluck” were featured at the at the Chinese
Benevolent Association on Sunday.  The book was published by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society last year and quickly sold out its first printing.  I was part of the writing workshops that helped to create this anthology of stories about food, culture and history.

Scheduled to read were moderator George Jung, Dan Seto, Larry Wong and Bob Sung. Also scheduled was Shirley Chan, but she asked me to fill in for her late Saturday…. so I was a surprise reader.

The reading started off with a welcome and an historical explanation of the Chinatown heritage buildings such as the Chinese Benevolent Association, and how the many clan associations served to help the pioneer Chinese in Vancouver and Canada.

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Dan Seto was the first reader.  He read his short story “Fong Luen Tong New Year Banquet” about the society set up for people with the names “Seto” or “Sit.”

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Bob Sung read second.  He read the story “A Lesson in Communication” about trying to impress a White Girl on a date in a Chinese restaurant, and how he kept mispronouncing the Chinese words so much that the waiter was laughing at him.

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Larry Wong read third.  He read the story “Evening With Pop (1949)” about how his father would always bring food home late at night to share with him and his sister.

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I read fourth.  I explained that my contributions were a blend of pictures and their descriptions.  The first picture I showed was me with my grandmother and girlfriend at Mother's Day 2007.

The second picture was me when I was 16 years old, holding two freshly caught salmon.  I explained how my mother's favorite way to cook fish was steamed with hot oil.

The third picture was the first picture ever taken of me wearing a kilt, back in 1993.  I was a tour guide at Simon Fraser University, and volunteers were needed to help with the university's traditional Robbie Burns ceremony.  This was when I first coined the phrase “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.”

The final picture was taken at the 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner with me holding a large haggis on a plate, while then Mayor Larry Campbell stabbed it with a knife.  I explained the origins of the dinner, and how it grew into a famous mix of cultural fusion of Chinese and Scottish food and culture.

2008_Nov2 005

George Jung was the final reader.  George read his story “Applesauce” which described how 102 year old Mrs. Der had climbed two steep flights of stairs to demand “Where is the money, the frefund for the head tax that my husband paid?”  He describes how Mrs. Der met Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and how the redress ex-gratia payment arrived too late after she dies.

 I counted 18
current and past Gung Haggis paddlers + Hillary's mom – in the audience
– enough for a dragon boat team in competition! and 1/3 of the audience
..  Former paddler Elwin Xie had earlier in the day conducted his
Chinese Laundry Boy tour of Chinatown for the Heart of the City

I acknowledged Savanah Walling in the audience – she is the
co-founder of the Heart of the City Festival.  I met her in April when
we both received the BC Community Achievement Award.

Sunday Night, CCHS writer Shirley Chan gave a reading of some of her
writings from the Eating Stories book, following the presentation of
the documentary Mary Lee Chan Takes on City Hall.  The film is about
how Shirley's mother helped to stop the demolition of Strathcona
neighborhood for freeway development.  Shirley's daughter Emma paddled
on the Gung Haggis dragon boat team last summer.

See more pictures at:

Heart of the City Festival: Eating Stories at CBA historical building

Gung Haggis dragon boat team is busy… paddlers are reading at Heart of the City Festival and running for Vancouver Parksboard + paddling?

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team is BUSY this Sunday:
Paddler Stuart Mackinnon is running for Vancouver Parksboard
Paddler Dan Seto is giving a reading for Heart of the City Festival.

2008_Oct23 006Gung Haggis paddler Stuart Mackinnon is running for Vancouver Parks Board.  Here he poses with his good friend Andrea Reimer who is running for Vancouver City Council – photo Todd Wong

the past two Sundays, Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team continues to paddle for fun and fitness, after our last “race” at the Ft. Langley Canoe Club Cranberry Festival Regatta.  We have paddled to David Lam Park, then to
Granville Island, here we have docked the boat and gone for a
refreshing drink of juice, coffee, hot chocolate or even sake. 

Sunday Nov. 2nd is a very busy day, so it is important that we know how
many paddlers are coming.   We have moved the 1:30 practice back to
3:00 to try to accommodate paddlers activities – so please contact
Stephen Mirowski to indicate if you can attend.

Some team members are
helping Stuart Mackinnon in the morning put his pamphlets in neighborhoods, as
Stuart is running for Vancouver Parksboard for the Nov. 15th
Civic election.  If you would like to help – please contact Stuart or
Julie Wong: 

On Sunday, Stuart will be speaking at the all candidates Parks board meeting at the Roundhouse community centre, while paddler Dan Seto does a reading at the Chinese Benovolent Society.  I might also be reading along with Dan, as I have been asked to be a last-minute stand-in for fellow writer Shirley Chan.  We will be reading from the book Eating Stories: A Chinese Canadian and Aboriginal Potluck.

Please check out both of these worthy events:


Sunday November 2, 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver, 108 E. Pender 3rd floor

ALL CANDIDATES MEETING for Park Board Commissioners.

presented by Roundhouse Community
Arts and Recreation Society
Sunday, November 2, 2008
2:00pm to 4:00pm
(Performance Centre)

20th Anniversary of Japanese Canadian Redress celebrates with 3 day conference

Redress for the WW2 internment of Japanese Canadians is one of Canada's most significant actions to address Canada's past racist history.

This weekend there is a conference to acknowledge the 20th Anniversary of the Japanese Canadian Redress.

Highlights include panel discussions on related topics, plus music and performances by dancer Jay Hirabayashi, and poets/authors Roy Miki and Hiromi Goto.

Conference Schedule

Day 1: Friday, September 19

Host Venue: Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall, Vancouver, B.C.

Theme: Reflecting the past in the present

Friday ScheduleView Friday's Schedule

Day 2: Saturday, September 20

Venue: Nikkei Place and Alan Emmott Centre, Burnaby

Theme: In the present, imagining the future

Saturday ScheduleView Saturday's Schedule

Day 2: Sunday, September 21

Venue: Nikkei Place and Alan Emmott Centre, Burnaby Sunday Schedule

View Sunday's Schedule

It was the 6 year old Canadian-born Generation Joy Kogawa that was put on a train in 1942 and sent with her 10 year old brother, Anglican priest father and mother, to the internment camps in the Kootenays.  This was done in the wake of Japan's bombing of the US naval base Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, and fears of a Japanese invasion of Canada's Pacific coast.  But no similar action was done against German ancestry descendants.   All Japanese-Canadians on the coast were sent to internment camps, and while there they suffered the indignity of having their houses and properties confiscated and auctioned off, supposedly to help pay for their internment.  The anti-Japanese racism extended years beyond WW2, as Canadian parliament enacted a dispersal policy, to restrict Japanese-Canadians from returning to the West Coast, sending them instead to work on beet farms across Canada, or to be “re-patriated” to Japan – even if they were born in Canada!

In 1988, Prime Minister Mulroney signed a redress settlement with Art Miki, and made an apology in Parliament.  This redress process also set in motion a redress movement for the Chinese Head Tax, when NDP MP Margaret Mitchell brought the issue to Parliament in 1984.  In 2006, Prime Minister Harper officially apologized for the Chinese Head Tax (initiated in 1885) and Chinese Exclusion Act (1923-1945), but failed to give a redress payment for all head tax certificates, whereas all Japanese-Canadians born up to 1947 were eligible for redress settlement.

I have been privileged to be involved in the struggle to save the childhood home of Joy Kogawa from demolition.  Kogawa's novel Obasan brought the Japanese-Canadian internment and struggle for redress to Canadians through literature.  NDP leader Ed Broadbent read a passage from Obasan in the House of Commons during the 1988 Parliamentary redress.

The internment of


On September 22, 1988, the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement was
signed by the President of the National Association of Japanese
Canadians (NAJC) and the Prime Minister of Canada. This document
acknowledged the injustice committed by the Canadian government
against Japanese Canadians during and after World War II, and pledged
that such events will not happen again. This was a major historic
event not only for Japanese Canadians, but to all minority groups as
well, in that it set precedence for other redress settlements in

September 22, 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of the Japanese Canadian
Redress Settlement. To celebrate, the NAJC and its membership
organization, the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizen
Association (GVJCCA), will be hosting a national event in Vancouver,
British Columbia. The conference will focus on both the celebration of
the Redress Settlement and reflection on the future of our global
community. Some notable participants scheduled to attend are
inter-cultural group members, various government representatives, and
those individuals who took a major role in the Redress Movement.

You are cordially invited to join us in participating in plenary,
workshops, and performances during this special three-day event. A
student rate is available. Please visit for more information about
the conference and details on registration.

Ethnic Issues and the Canadian Federal Election: Gabriel Yiu's commentary about Harper, South Asian community and the Komagata Maru redress

Ethnic issues and the Canadian Federal Election: Why the federal politicians are now paying attention.

I drove into work this morning, CBC Radio's “The Current” was
interviewing a Muslim-Canadian in Quebec and a Chinese-Canadian in
Vancouver about the importance of ethnic issues for this upcoming
federal election.

Chinese head tax issue was cited by one of the interviewees as being an
issue that caused problems for the Paul Martin and the Liberals. 
Without a broad-based consultation of Chinese-Canadians directly
affected by the head tax issue, the Liberals went ahead with their ACE
program (Acknowledgement, Commemoration and Education) without an
apology or a payment settlement plan.  This raised the ire of not only
Chinese Canadians head tax descendants but also many non-Chinese
Canadians who said this was unfair and unjust.  In the ensuing
demonstrations and protest movement, I got to know Gabriel Yiu as one
of many community activists working to bring the issue to public
knowledge and government settlement.

Harper and his Vancouver colleagues saw the winds changing, and jumped
on the head tax band wagon.  Even Liberals Ujjal Dosanjh, David Emerson
and Stephen Owen found a “second opinion” distancing themselves from
Paul Martin and Raymond Chan plan.  Harper eventually made an official
apology in Parliament.  This was important because the Head Tax and
Chinese Exclusion Act had been federal law.  The Conservatives also
gave a settlement to surviving head tax payers and spouses, but not
anybody who died before they were elected.  This was very unfair, as
99% of head tax payers and spouses were already dead.

Harper and the Conservatives are playing to the South Asian community
for votes.  They are addressing the Komagat Maru incident but not
giving an apology.

Gabriel Yiu has written a wonderful commentary, that I am re-publishing here:

South Asian community shouldn’t
miss opportunity to redress Komagata Maru incident

Gabriel Yiu 

Global Chinese Press
column 5.9.2008

Also submitted to Indo-Canadian


In late 2005, the federal election was in full swing.  In the
Chinese community, the Head Tax redress was the hottest issue.  The
Liberals ran a close race against the Conservatives, so both parties made
extraordinary efforts to fetch votes.


Raymond Chan, the Liberal Multicultural Minister at the time, set up a
meeting in Vancouver Chinatown for his boss, Paul Martin, to make an
announcement to redress the Chinese Head Tax.  This so-called
“historical” redress offered no apology and no compensation, only a
sum of money for community organizations.


The Liberals’ “historical” redress triggered Chinese
activists like myself to step forward to fight it because it was unjust.


My view on the Head Tax is like this. For all the historical unjust
matters and tragedies, the present-day government can decide not to take any
action.  After all, we have enough more press modern issues for our
politicians to handle.  However, if today’s government decided to
redress this historical matter, the redress should be examined with
today’s morals and values. The government offering an apology for an
unjust historical wrong is the basic requirement.  A redress on the Head
Tax without an apology is an insult to the Chinese community.


The CBC Early Edition interviewed me and Raymond Chan on the
Liberals’ redress program.  I expressed my view and stated that
community opinions expressed on Chinese open-line shows were one-sided —
overwhelmingly opposing the Liberal plan.  After I hung up, it was Raymond
Chan’s turn. He said “Gabriel Yiu was lying” and
“Gabriel Yiu was misleading the community….”  Wow, a federal
cabinet minister scolded me in public on an English-language radio.  I
wondered whether I was being attacked or being elevated.


After the election, the Conservative government made an
apology for the Chinese Head Tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act.  So far, I
haven’t seen any community come up and sue the government on other past
historical wrong.  Raymond Chan’s claim that a government apology
would open the floodgates to lawsuits that would cost taxpayers huge amounts of
money has never materialized.  So who was lying and misleading the
community in the last election?


Due to the strong reaction in the Chinese community, Prime Minister
Martin was forced to change his position in the middle of his election
campaign.  In an interview conducted on a Chinese radio channel, Martin
apologized for the Chinese Head Tax.  A CBC reporter interviewed me and
said I must be happy about it and my reply surprised the journalist.  I
said, what kind of apology was that? Paul Martin didn’t offer his apology
in a national press conference but merely uttered it in an ethnic language
radio interview.  How sincere was it?  More importantly, the Chinese
Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act were legislated in the Parliament.  If
the government of Canada
truly felt remorse, an apology should be made in the Parliament.  In the
following week, Paul Martin promised to apologize in the Parliament after the


South Asian readers must find this familiar, mustn’t they?
(That’s right, I’m submitting this commentary to both Chinese and
South Asian newspapers.)  Looks like history is repeating itself. 
Frankly, I am quite surprised to see Prime Minister Harper and Multicultural
Minister Jason Kenney, who scored almost full marks on the Chinese Head Tax
redress file, would screw up like this and repeat the mistake of Paul
Martin/Raymond Chan.  It’s also incredible to see that Kenney, who
has been working hard to connect to ethnic communities, should rule out
immediately apology in the Parliament. Why should he draw such a hard line? 
Was it a slip of the tongue?  Or is it an attitude problem?

Since the Conservative government has already apologized to Chinese and
aboriginals in the Parliament, why would Harper insist in not apologizing to
South Asians on the Komagata Maru affair?

The 2006 federal election had helped resolve the humiliation of the
Chinese in the last century.  The South Asian community should grab this
coming opportunity to put a fair and just full stop on the Komagata Maru


Jason Kenney announces $5 Million for Chinese-Canadian community-based commemorative and educational projects related to immigration restrictions (re: head tax and exclusion act)

Jason Kenney, Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity was in BC, and came to a ceremony at the Shiang Garden Restaurant in
Richmond, BC.

Jason Kenney affirmed the announcement below.  In addition, he
named Wesley Lowe, to head the advisory panel which will
oversee the evaluation of projects and disbursement of funds.  

While this announcement does not give recognition to the 99.3% of head tax certificates where the head tax payers or spouses are pre-deceased.  It allows the community to move forward to create projects that are commemorative and educational, to help all Canadians understand the terrible systemic racism that Canada perpetuated against a single ethnic cultural group that spanned over 62 years, by means of the Chinese head tax (1885-1923), and the Exclusion Act (1923-1947).

Canadian Heritage / Patrimoine

The Government of Canada Promotes Historical Recognition for
Chinese-Canadian Community's Immigration Experiences

TORONTO, May 8, 2008 – The Honourable Jason Kenney,
Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), today
announced $5 million in grants and contributions funding will be made
available to the Chinese-Canadian community for community-based
commemorative and educational projects related to immigration

“The Head Tax and other immigration restrictions, which affected
Chinese-Canadians, are an unfortunate chapter in our history and
deserve recognition,” said Secretary of State Kenney.

This funding is being provided under the Community Historical
Recognition Program, which was first announced by Prime Minister
Stephen Harper in June 2006. The Program will fund community-based
projects that will allow communities affected by Canadian wartime
measures and immigration restrictions to have their experiences
acknowledged in a way that is meaningful to them. Eligible projects
could include monuments, commemorative plaques, educational material,
and exhibits.

Other components of the Community Historical Recognition Program will
be announced in the days to come, as well as details regarding the
National Historical Recognition Program, which will fund federal
initiatives that educate Canadians about the history of wartime
measures and immigration restrictions and the contributions of affected
communities to the building of Canada.

Chinese-Canadians received an official apology by Prime Minister
Stephen Harper in 2006 for the Head Tax imposed on Chinese immigrants.
The Government also announced that it would make ex-gratia symbolic
payments of $20,000 to living Head Tax payers and to persons who had
lived in a conjugal relationship with a now-deceased Head Tax payer. To
date, more than $12 million in ex-gratia payments have already been
made to this community.

Todd Wong supports Raymond Louie's campaign to be Vancouver Mayor

Vancouver city councilor Raymond Louie asked me to support his bid to be Vancouver Mayor.  Raymond would be a great mayor… I immediately said “Absolutely!”


stands in front of Historic Joy Kogawa House on April 25th, 2008.  This
was his first visit to the house, after supporting motions on city council to help save the house from demolition, and plant a cherry tree graft at Vancouver City Hall in 2005.  Raymond holds some of Joy Kogawa's books to share
with his wife and children – photo Todd Wong

Raymond Louie could be Vancouver's first Chinese-Canadian mayor.  He is
a multi-generational Vancouverite from the East Side.  He is a second
term Vancouver city councilor.

Raymond Louie has been getting some very significant endorsers including:

George Chow, Vision Vancouver Councillor
Joy MacPhail, former Deputy Premier and Leader of the Opposition
Doug McArthur, former Deputy Minister to the Premier
Wayson Choy, author of “The Jade Peony”
Richard Tetrault, artist
Darlene Marzari, former Vancouver City Councillor and B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs
Eddie Chan, Chairman Zhongshan Allied Association
David Black, Canadian Office and Professional Employees Local 378 Vice-President
Margaret Birrell, Community Activist
and now….. me!

  My statement of endorsement is now featured on Raymond Louie's website:

“Raymond Louie actually lives the culturally diverse Gung Haggis Fat
Choy lifestyle that is my creative world. His own family straddles many
cultures and many generations, and he actively demonstrates that he
understands the many facets that can make our city shine like a
diamond. I have seen how Raymond makes things happen as a city
councilor, bringing together different groups and perspectives such as
arts, economics, heritage and cultures. As a mayor that empowers others
to be their best, Raymond will be dynamic and our jewel of a city
should shine even brighter.”

Todd Wong, arts advocate and creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy

To support Raymond as the Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate, you have to
1) Join Vision as a member – click here!
2) Vote at the Vision Vancouver meeting on June 15th, Croatian Community Centre.

Raymond has recently made some wonderful statements on:

He has also currently “advocating for the
creation of a non-profit foundation that will establish a long-term
funding source for the chronically underfunded Childcare Endowment

I have personally known Raymond since the fall of 2002, when he ran for
city council.  Initially, I met his wife Tonya first, because she was
on the board of Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society, where I had
volunteered for, and then was hired as a program coordinator.  I
finally met Raymond at the Chinese Cultural Centre when Mike Harcourt
endorsed COPE mayoral candidate Larry Campbell. 

After that our
paths just seemed to keep crossing, as Raymond was invited to present
the Queen's Jubilee Medals to VAHMS board members Jim Wong-Chu and
Kuldip Gill. As well, Raymond attended the opening of the “Three
Pioneer Canadian Chinese Families
” at the Chinese Cultural Centre
Museum and Archives.  My great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan's
family was featured, and I was one of the featured stories as a
descendant.  Raymond attended because he was distantly related to H.Y.
Louie, whose family was also featured along with the family of Lee-Bick.

I have seen Raymond at many events throughout Vancouver over the past 6 years.  He is an effective city councilor and is active in the community.

To see him in action at City Council check out this video:

YouTube – EgoDensity Round 1

Raymond Louie criticizes Mayor Sam Sullivan's Eco-Density program

Here are some of the highlights when Raymond and I have shared together:


Raymond climbed on top of the Taiwanese Dragon Boat head… and reaches out to simulate grabbing a flag before crossing the finish line.  I taught him how to climb onto the dragon head – neglecting to tell him it had never been done in Canada before.  Raymond lost the demonstration race to Olympic medalist Lori Fung. – photo courtesy of Taiwanese Cultural Festival.

August to September 2003, Raymond Louie was instrumental in helping to launch the inaugural Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race.  Raymond helped stickhandle through bureaucratic channels during a Vancouver Port strike, and participated as the flag grabber vs '84 Olympic gold medalist Lori Fung in a demonstration race.

November 3rd, 2005, Raymond supported the Save Kogawa House campaign at Vancouver City Hall, when we appealed to City Council for help.  City council used an unprecedented motion to delay a demolition permit application by 3 months, to give us time to fundraise and purchase the house.  Raymond also said that this project was so important he asked all the city councilors to make a donation that day.

January 2006, Raymond brings his family with wife and 3 kids to Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.  The featured performers are Rick Scott & Harry Wong, and the No Shit Shirleys.


July 2007, Raymond Louie calls for mediation to end the Vancouver civic workers' strike.  Mayor Sam Sullivan and the NPA decline mediation and let the “unnecessary strike” drag on for 3 months, before a mediator is finally called in on Thanksgiving weekend to settle a contract very similar to what other municipalities already settled for 3 months earlier.  Following a July 29th rally at Vancouver City Hall, Raymond Louie comes out to talk with members of Vancouver's civic unions.  I introduce him to my fellow workers of CUPE 391, Vancouver Library Workers – photo Todd Wong.

January 25th, 2008.  Raymond Louie appears on Rock 101's Bro Jake show with “Toddish McWong” to help promote the Gung Haggis Fat Choy event.

Gung Haggis 2008 Dinner 242

January 27th, 2008.  Raymond Louie wears a kilt to Gung Haggis Fat Choy. photo Gung Haggis collection.  A highlight of the evening is Raymond on stage with a group of men wearing kilts as a “Toast to the Lassies” chorus with co-host Catherine Barr – photo VFK.

Raymond Louie for mayor

March 13th, 2008, Vancouver Sun reports Raymond Louie's declaration to run for Vancouver mayor.  Raymond  invites me to be one of his supporters in this photo taken at the Chinese Cultural Centre courtyard.  I am standing on the far left with many key supporters of the Chinatown business and community organizers.  Dr. Kerry Jang is 5th from right – Kerry will run as a candidate for councilor with Vision Vancouver. photo Bill Keay Vancouver Sun.

Photo Library - 2645

April 6th, 2008.  Tartan Day is officially proclaimed in Vancouver. Raymond seconded the motion in City Council, moved by Heather Deal, which passed on April 1st.  As deputy mayor, Raymond reads the proclamation prior to a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team practice.  In this photo l-r: Chinese-Scottish-Canadian Michael Brophy holds the Scottish flag, Todd Wong, Raymond Louie holds proclamation, bagpiper Joe McDonald-  photo Todd Wong/Georgia Thorburn


Raymond Louie speaks at the CUPE 391 Vancouver Library Workers annual general meeting.  He encouraged everybody to get involved in their union in order to help make positive changes.  He was very nicely received by the CUPE 391 audience.  In this picture, Raymond stands in front of another Vision mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, while CUPE 391 president Alexandra Youngberg moderates – photo Todd Wong