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

Chinese head tax redress deadline March 31st: now it's time for inclusion of sons, daughters of pre-deceased head tax payers

The deadline for the ex-gratia payment is March 31, 2008.

Applicants must have been alive by Feb 6, 2006.

If my grandfather was alive, he would have been 140 years old.  IMPOSSIBLE!!!

He worked hard to pay back the head tax, most likely borrowed from
relatives and family friends.  $500 was charged from 1903 to 1923,
after initially imposed at $50 in 1885 and raised to $100 in 1900.

$500 was equivalent to two years wages of a Chinese labour at
the time. Meanwhile, Chinese were denied Canadian citizenship.
In all, the Federal Government collected $23 million from the
Chinese through the Head Tax.  It was enough to pay for the entire cost of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which many Chinese workers helped to build, enabling British and European immigrants to come to British Columbia.  What was their reward
?  A head tax and an exclusion act.

It could take 10 years or more to repay the money borrowed to pay for head tax money. 

Imagine if all Canadians were presently asked to go into debt for 2
years worth of wages.

What about Dak Leon Mark's head tax certificate? 

Dak Leon Mark (now deceased) asked NDP Member of Parliament Margaret
Mitchell to help reclaim his head tax money.  Margaret Mitchell brought
the issue before Canadian Parliament in 1984. 

Did his Mr. Mark's spouse claim the redress ex-gratia payment?  or did
she die too?  Did he have children?  Should his beneficiary's be able
to receive what rightfully belonged to their father?

It is now time for STAGE 2 of the Chinese Head Tax Redress ex-gratia program

It is time to address the 99% of head tax certificates NOT addressed by the Conservative government program

It is time to address the hundreds of thousands of Chinese Canadian
head tax descendants who will VOTE in the next federal election.

It is time to fulfill the CCNC's proposal to the Conservative
government submitted in 2005. Or did Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney
conveniently forget about the sons and daughters left behind by their
pre-deceased head tax payers and spouses.

According to the current program.

Q20: What happens if a Head Tax payer was alive on February 6, 2006, but died before applying?

In the case where a Head Tax payer was alive on February 6, 2006,
but has since died, a person that was in a conjugal relationship with a
Head Tax payer who is now deceased will be able to submit an
application for the ex-gratia symbolic payment, once the
Department of Canadian Heritage has finalized the specifics of the
application process for these persons.

Q21: What happens if a Head Tax payer dies after he or she has made an application, but before a payment could be issued ?

In the event that the applicant dies following the submission of the
application, and is assessed to be eligible to receive a payment, and
it is determined that there are no persons living who are or who were
in a conjugal relationship with the Head Tax payer who have applied for
payment, the designated beneficiary named in the application form will
then receive the payment.

ROLL BACK the age of death to 1947, when
the Chinese Exclusion Act was lifted.  This is symbolic because it is
the date when Canadians of Chinese heritage were granted full
citizenship rights for the country they were born in.

It is symbolic that 1947 ended 24 years of legislated exclusion of
Chinese immigration – the only ethnic group that was racially
discriminated against in this way.

It took the Canadian government 46 years to redress the wrongful
internment of Canadians born of Japanese ancestry during WW2, in 1988. 
Surely the Canadian government can address 62 years of legislated
racism from 1885 to 1947, then a further 59 years of ignoring even an
apology until 2006.

2008 is the 150th Anniversary of British Columbia.

Chinese have been in BC for 150 years,
as long as other ethnicities or even longer than others.  It is fitting
that after 150 years, Canadians of Chinese ethnicity be treated with
full respect that other ethnicities have been.

If the government charges a wrongful tax, admits they are wrong, but doesn't give the money back… is this fair?

$500 in 1923 dollars with compound interest has been estimated to be
$300,000 in 2005 dollars.  The head tax ex-gratia payment announced by
the government in 2006 was $20,000.  The Chinese Head Tax redress
campaign is only asking for symbolic compensation

Ignoring 99% of head tax certificates is not only wrong, it's shameful.

Todd Wong

Chinese-Canadians that inspired me in 2007

Last year in 2006, the Vancouver Sun published a list of 100 Influential Chinese-Canadians in B.C. in BC…. to much criticism – positive and negative.  I commented on my blog article: GungHaggisFatChoy :: Vancouver Sun: 100 Influential Chinese…

I am now working on my list of “Chinese-Canadians that inspired me in 2007”

I was inspired by seeing the name of Roy Mah, in the Vancouver Sun's list of people we lost in 2007, and shared the idea with my friend George Jung.   Rather than create a list of newsworthy or influential Chinese Canadians, we decided on CC's that inspired us.  This way there is NO
official requirement or standards.  It is  very subjective and personal.

I also emailed some friends to create their own lists:  David Wong and Gabriel Yu have sent me replies.  David's list can be viewed on

In no order, other than who came to mind first, who has crossed my path, and reviewing my blog to remind myself who I wrote about in 2007.

Roy Mah
the founder of Chinatown News, was written about in the Vancouver Sun
after celebrating his 90th birthday, as well as when the City of
Vancouver declared July 12th Roy Mah Day, in recognition of his
memorial service.  I have known Roy since I submitted an article back in the early '80's.  When he would make his regular trips to the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch, he would also wave to me sitting at the Information desk.
Thekla Lit
for her work with Alpha Canada, promoting the film Rape of Nanjing, and inviting media and public to meet Comfort Women survivors.  Gabriel says that a columnist on the Global Chinese Press
has named Thekla the Chinese-Canadian of 2007, as she and her husband Joseph have been busy on these issues for a long decade.  I got to know Thekla when she joined the committee for Chinese Head Tax Redress campaign in the months preceding the 2006 federal election.  She is a very smart women, not afraid to say what she thinks.

James Erlandsen
the young Eurasian SFU Student needing a bone marrow donor as he fights
leukemia (James was named honourary drummer for the Gung Haggis Fat
Choy Dragon boat team).  James reminded me so much of my own 1989 battle with cancer, even going to the same high school and university.  There have been ups and downs, and he still puts on a brave face.  I did a City TV interview with James, when James and I met for the first time.  It was James' cousin Aynsley who first contacted me about writing about James for my blog.
Tracey Hinder
– the 15 year old inaugural BC CanSpell champion, featured in the CBC documentary GENERATIONS: The Chan Legacy.  People constantly told me after watching the documentary that they  thought that my young cousin Tracey was great in it.  She was very inspiring for the future of Canada, especially with Tracey's Eurasian heritage, learning Mandarin and being involved with her school's multiculturalism club.  This summer Tracey started an e-newsletter titled “Becoming Green” that gives suggestions how to create a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.  I knew from the beginning that Tracey had to be in the documentary.  The documentary also featured family elders Victor Wong, Helen Lee, and Gary Lee, artist/author Janice Wong and myself.  Read my blog stories about Generations: The Chan Legacy
Three generations of the Chan family: Tracey Hinder (left), Betty Wong and Todd Wong look over their family's impressive legacy.Tracey Hinder, Betty Wong and Todd Wong re: Generations: The Chan Legacy

Henry Yu
UBC professor of History, chair and organizer of the Anniversaries for Change '07 events
recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Anti-Asian Riots in
Chinatown.  Henry has organized events at UBC and throughout Vancouver recognizing the impact on Vancouver made by the 1907 Anti-Asian riot in Vancouver Chinatown, the 1947 franchise for Chinese Canadians enabling them full citizenship rights, the new immigration act of 1967, and the 1997 handover of Hong Kong.  Henry has attended many Gung Haggis Fat Choy and Asian
Canadian Writers' Workshop events over the past few years.  Henry always seems to have boundless enthusiasm and energy for all his projects.  But this past year was also significantly inspiring because he also became a cancer support person for his wife (see below).

Brandy Lien-Worrall – editor of Eating Stories: a Chinese Canadian and Aboriginal Potluck
and All Mixed Up – a Hapa anthology.  It is easy to be impressed by all the writing and editing projects that Brandy is involved in.  I got to know Brandy better when I took
the writing workshops sponsored by the Chinese Canadian Historical
Society of BC.  I truly learned what an incredible dynamo she is. She pushed us to write creatively, and from the heart.  And it was fun to have my stories and pictures published in
Eating Stories. Read:
Eating Stories, a Chinese Canadian and Aboriginal Potluck: book launch Nov 25th at Vancouver Museum
.  But more important to recognize is that Brandy finished editing Eating Stories in between chemotherapy treatments, after she was diagnosed with cancer in the summer.  Soon she started up a cancer blog in addition to her poem a day blog, and her 12 other blogs…  Just like James Erlandsen, Brandy is Eurasian… and also reminds me of my own cancer experience. 

Larry Wong, Todd Wong, Shirley Chan, Janice Wong with editor Brandy
Lien Worrall at the Eating Stories anthology official book launch at
Vancouver Museum – photo Deb Martin

more to come….

Jen Sookfong Lee

Margaret Gallagher

Karin Lee

Bill Wong

Vicki Wong

Joseph Wu

Tricia Collins

see part II
More Chjinese Canadians that Inpired me in 2007: part 2

Head Tax survivors Mrs. Der and Ralph Lee

Sid Tan – head tax activist

Bev Wong – community activist on bone marrow and blood donors

Douglas Jung building at 401 Burrard St. 

Lan Tung, leader of Orchid Ensemble, incredible musician and creator of Triaspora

Wesley Lowe – film maker, creator of I Am the Canadian Delegate – story of Douglas Jung

George Chow – city councilor

Raymond Louie – city councilor

Jenny Kwan – MLA

Jim Chu – 1st Vancouver police chief of Asian ancestry

Assaulted Fish – sketch comedy troupe

Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre VACT presented three productions in 2007, Cowboy VS Samaurai, Asian Comedy Night, and Bondage.

Twisting Fortunes duo – Charlie Cho and Grace Chin

Chinese Canadian veterans

Canada's new immigrants have now made Chinese languages #3 in Canada: CBC Radio's “The Current” asks me about the possibility of a 3rd official language for Canada

I had a very interesting phone call from Toronto on Monday… a producer from CBC Radio's “The Current” phoned me to ask my views on the latest Canadian census results on language and immigration released December 4th.

The questions considered the issues of should Canada adopt a 3rd official language. 

The CBC Radio producer also asked me if I was aware that Singapore now had four official languages.

I told her that New Brunswick is the only province in Canada with two official languages, and that Singapore is a city-state.

Hmmm…..  food for thought….

Chinese languages are now the third-most common mother-tongue group, behind English and French. The largest group of immigrants to Canada now come from the Republic of China.  Richmond BC, is the leading city for Chinese language speakers.

But where does this leave me?  I am a 5th generational Chinese-Canadian who speaks better French than Chinese?

Am I the product of a colonial Canada whose racist history purposely and methodically legislated and conspired to prohibit and block Chinese and other Asian immigrants from coming to Canada?  As well as creating a cultural genocide to its First Nations aboriginal people by taking children from their families and placing them in Residential Schools and prohibiting them from speaking their mother-tongues, as well as outlawing their cultural practices, traditions and social structure with the “Potlatch Law?”

Of course.

When I grew up in the 1960's and 1970's, my parents decided not to send me to Chinese school because they wanted to emphasize assimilation with Canadian culture.  They wanted me to get ahead in Canadian society by furthering my participation in English language activities.  So instead of going to Chinese School after “English School” I took accordion lessons, judo lessons, swimming lessons etc. 

My parents grew up during the time of the “Chinese Exclusion Act” – when no Chinese were permitted to immigrate to Canada, so what good would learning Chinese be for me?  I had to learn French in high school, and even took the Summer Language Bursary program to study French at a Canadian University.  When I went to China in 1993, I ended up speaking more French as I bumped into people from Quebec, France and Holland.  I even had Thanksgiving dinner with the Canadian Ambassador to China, who was from Montreal.

It's great that Canada can be more tolerant to new immigrants, than it was when my great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan arrived in 1896.  It's great that Canadians can be happy with a multiculturalism that embraces every culture from along the ancient Silk Road, as well as almost every country on earth.

But… we must also pay attention to our history.  Canada was founded as a nation including English and French cultures and languages.  The Chinese pioneers who built the railway and paid the head tax spoke Cantonese from Southern China.  Mandarin is only a more recent language as immigrants from Taiwan and Mainland China began arriving in significant numbers during the 1980's. 

If we are going to recognize the impact of Chinese immigrants in Canada, then we must also recognize the impact of Chinese-Canadian history – not just the easily identifiable Chinese-language voting block because the current political party in power wants to remain in power.

Before we can consider the luxury of a third official language, we must first consider that Canada has unfinished business.  First Nations issues must be recognized.  Treaties and land claim issues should take precedence.  Should First Nations language be considered an official language?  Which one?  I remember listening to Peter Gzowski on CBC Radio as he asked 3 different First Nations people to say the word that they used to refer to themselves instead of the words “First Nations”, “Aboriginal”or “Indian.”  They answered with three different words. 

Before we consider Chinese as even an unofficial language, we must fully consider the unresolved issues of the Chinese Head Tax redress.  The Harper government used Mandarin Chinese – not the Cantonese language of the head tax payers, when they gave the apology for the Chinese Head Tax last year on June 22nd 2006.  Less than one percent of head tax certificates have been honoured with ex-gratia payments because the government refuses to include families where the surviving head tax payers and spouses have died prior to Harper's election in 2006, even though the head tax redress was first requested in Parliament by Margaret Mitchell in 1984, even though Chinese-Canadians asked for the end to the “Exclusion Act” in 1947.

It's great that new immigrants are adding to Canada's cultural diversity, and giving Canadians a sense of global identity and culture.  But Canada's ethnic history should also be recognized, not just the latest 20 years.

The CBC radio producer liked what I had to say.  She recognized that I was neither a Chinese mother-tongue speaker nor a multi-generational White Canadian – but a little of both.  So… I might be on the panel discussion for The Current on Friday morning for Dec 14th.  Cross your fingers.  I might shake things up and challenge both the status quo and the new immigration patterns.

Check out CBC Radio's The Current's story on “Ethnoburbs” – how ethnic populations are increasingly settling in the suburbs or Canada's major city centres of Vancouver and Toronto.

The Current: Part 3

Census – Ethnoburbs

Statistics Canada has released the data on immigration from the 2006 Census,
and there are some interesting findings. More than a million people
came to Canada between 2001 and 2006. And while they're still
gravitating to major urban centres like Toronto, Vancouver and
Montreal, they're heading increasingly to big, suburban centres like Markham, Ontario and Richmond, British Columbia. In fact, both of those cities are now home to more people born outside Canada than in Canada.

Rosemary Bender joined us for a look at the hard numbers. She is the
Director General for Social and Demographic Statistics with Statistics
Canada and she was in Vancouver.

Ethnoburbs – Voices

Well, as you heard, immigrants to Canada make up the fastest
growing demographic in the country. And along with that growth, suburbs
on the outskirts of Canada's biggest cities are growing along with them.

The city of Markham sits roughly 30 kilometres northeast of downtown
Toronto. Of the 260 000 or so people who live there, 56% are
immigrants. The community is peppered with huge asian malls and
restaurants catering to its primarily Chinese community. The Current
producer Dominic Girard stopped in earlier this week to see how the
cultures are mingling — or clashing. He took in some line dancing and
snooker at the Markham Seniors Activity Centre, met with a city
councillor, and chatted up a young man working a cell phone shop in one
of the asian malls.

Ethnoburbs – Panel

Today's numbers raise questions about whether ethnic enclaves are a
place to start out in and move out of, or are they becoming a place to
stay permanently — and what is the impact of that on Canadian society.

Sudha Krishna
is a former CBC journalist and now a partner in a Vancouver new media
company called The Nimble Company, and he was in our Vancouver studio. Dr. Myer Siemiatycki
is the director of the graduate program in Immigration and Settlement
Studies at Ryerson University. And Howard Chen is the president of the Chinese Professional Association of Canada and a resident of Markham, Ontario. Both were in our Toronto studio.

Less than 1% Chinese-Canadian head tax families have received a redress settlement

Chinese-Canadian Head tax descendants are not greedy.  They just want a just settlement. 

“If the government unjustly takes a dollar from you or me, then offers an apology, but no money back – is that fair?” asked Sid Tan, long time advocate for redress of the notorious and racist head tax that was only levied against Chinese immigrants from 1885 to 1923 in an effort to keep Chinese from coming to Canada.  Co-president of the Chinese Canadian Head Tax Families Society, Tan called for continued action for a full redress that would include the sons, daughters and families of deceased head tax payers.

Even more racist and devastating to the Chinese community was the Chinese “Exclusion” Act which completely banned Chinese immigration from 1923 to 1947, which forcibly restricted the unification of families. 

I attended the AGM of the Chinese Head Tax Families Society last Sunday, and also witnessed the ceremony that honoured Margaret Mitchell with a life-time membership in the society and for her work in first bringing the Head Tax redress issue to Canadian Parliament in 1984.

Margaret Mitchell stand between 99 year old head tax payer Charlie Quan and head tax spouse Mrs. Wong Shee Lee – photo Todd Wong

The Conservative government is only recognizing surviving head tax payers and and their spouses, still alive at the time of Harper's election.  Many have died since 1984.  My father's father died in 1964 and my mother's father died in 1953.

Many families have hung onto ancient pieces of paper in hope of a redress payment or refund.  Head tax certificates have been passed on through generations.  Wendy Yuan told me on Sunday that her husband's grandfather's certificate is now in her safe-keeping. My 97 year old grandmother still has the head tax certificate of her father and his brother – and while my grandmother was born in Canada in 1910, her father died around 1933.

The head tax payers and their families faced economic hardships and racial discrimination that lasted generations.  $500 in 1907 could buy 2 small houses in Vancouver.  It is estimated that with compound interest, full repayment with compound interest would be $300,000.  That's what Charlie Quan told the media it was worth in 2006.  The Conservative government has offered a symbolic $20,000 ex-gratia payment – but only to surviving head tax payers and spouses.

One certificate – one redress payment is only fair.

Head tax descendant Gim Wong (centre) is the WW2 veteran who rode his motorcycle to Ottawa in 2005 to ask Prime Minister Martin to refund the Head Tax – but was refused a meeting.  He poses here with Judy Hanazawa and Grace Thompson – advocates of the Japanese-Canadian redress settlement.  Grace is also the current president of the Japanese Canadian National Council, whom we consulted with during the Chinese head tax redress campaign – photo Todd Wong

Check out the recent
Georgia Straight story about the failure of the Conservative government to fully comprehend and follow through on the Chinese head tax redress issue:


Most head-tax families haven't gotten a penny

News Features By
Carlito Pablo

Publish Date:
November 29, 2007

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Charlie Quan hosted a feast of wild boar after he was compensated by the Harper government for paying the head tax, but many families are still waiting for justice.

Charlie Quan hosted a feast of wild boar after he
was compensated by the Harper government for paying the head tax, but many
families are still waiting for justice.

More than 23 years ago, a Vancouver East NDP
Member of Parliament stood in the House of Commons to demand redress for Chinese
head-tax payers. Margaret Mitchell was the first to bring this issue forward,
and it took more than two decades and several governments before an apology was
made, in 2006.

Now 82 and long since retired, Mitchell
remains passionate about making amends to Canadians of Chinese origin who
suffered under
discriminatory immigration policies. The former MP believes that
the redress laid out by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government
doesn't fully resolve the issue.

“There are so many aspects that are not
settled,” Mitchell told the Georgia Straight after she
was awarded an honorary membership in the Head Tax Families Society of Canada,
in Vancouver 's Chinatown
on November 25.

Only head-tax payers or their spouses who were
alive as of February 6, 2006,
are entitled to $20,000 in symbolic compensation. Mitchell said
that this leaves out thousands of descendants of families
who went through economic hardship and endured long separations.

The deadline for filing applications for
payments is March 31, 2008.

“I fully support the fact that the battle
must continue, and you must get coverage for inclusive redress for all the
families,” Mitchell said in her address.

Her audience included Charlie Quan, a
99-year-old head-tax payer, and Gim Wong, an elderly son of a head-tax payer
who rode his Harley-Davidson motorcycle across
Canada in the summer of 2005 to
raise awareness about the need for redress.

In an interview, Mitchell recalled that her advocacy started when two of her
Vancouver East constituents–Mak Dak Lee and Shack Lee–asked for her

The 14-year MP recounts her experience in the head-tax redress campaign in her
memoir, No Laughing
Matter: Adventure, Activism and Politics
Island Publishing), which will have its launch at the Mount Pleasant
Neighbourhood House on Monday (December 3).

In 1885, the Canadian government imposed a $50 entry fee on Chinese immigrants. This was raised to $100 in 1900, and to
$500 in 1903. The head tax was ended in 1923 by a law that banned most Chinese immigration.
According to the Chinese Canadian National Council, approximately 81,000
Chinese paid $23 million in head taxes–about $1.2 billion in current

Sid Chow Tan, cochair of the Head Tax Families
Society of Canada, said the redress covers less than one percent of head-tax
families because the vast majority of payers and their spouses have already
died. “Head-tax families have endured, overcome, and outlived generations
of arrogant and dismissive governments,” he said on November 25. “We
have built a movement to outlast the Stephen Harper Conservative government
should they continue to close the door on us.”

Victor Wong's grandfather paid the tax in
1912, but because his grandfather and grandmother are dead, Wong's family is
not entitled to the symbolic compensation. More than 500 head-tax payers and
surviving spouses have received payments, according to Wong, who is the
Chinese Canadian National Council's executive director.

Wendy Yuan, the federal Liberal candidate for
Vancouver Kingsway,
told the Straight
that her husband's grandfather was a head-tax payer. The
Yuan family has preserved the late patriarch's certificate of payment, she
said. “I've been telling my son about how it was not easy for our
ancestors,” Yuan said. “For sure, the head-tax descendants need


3 Chinese Canadian Pioneers pass on – including Victoria born Victoria Yip and Ying Hope – former Toronto city councillor

The Chinese Canadian head tax campaign brought a lot of Chinese Canadian pioneers and pioneer descendants together with immigrants both recent and older.

I first met Victoria Yip, when she participated in the 1986 “Saltwater City exhibit” chaired by Paul Yee.  Victoria had loaned her Chinese costumes for display for the exhibit.  She also attended the 1996 Saltwater City planning committee reunion that I organized with David Wong.  Victoria Yip and my grandmother Mabel Mar sat together. Everybody marvelled that these two women could look so well at 85 and 86 years old.

The The Yip Sang Family is one of Canada's most famous and well-known Chinese-Canadian families. There is a display of items featured at the “Generations to Generations” display at the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum and Archives.  It was reading about the Yip family reunion that helped inspire me to create reunion dinners for the Rev. Chan Family in 1999 and 2000

Here's a statement by CCNC

November 16, 2007

CCNC Statement On The Passing of Three Community Leaders

Toronto . CCNC National President Colleen Hua issued the following statement on the passing of Mr. James Marr, Mrs. Victoria Yip and Mr. Ying Hope:

“This week I learned of the passing of three community leaders: Mr. James Marr of Edmonton , Mrs. Victoria Yip of Ottawa and Mr. Ying Hope of Toronto . On behalf of the Chinese Canadian National Council and the Chinese Canadian community, I extend our sincere condolences to the families and friends of Mr. James Mah, Mrs. Victoria Yip and Mr. Ying Hope. These three individuals were leaders in the Chinese Canadian community and we are a stronger community and Canada is a better country because of their public and community service.”

“Mr. James Marr was one of the few living head tax payers to ride aboard the Redress Train to witness the June 22, 2006 Parliamentary apology in Ottawa . Mrs. Yip tirelessly served the community and was featured in books and TV documentaries on the few Canadian-born Chinese women who lived through the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act era. Mr. Ying Hope was born in Victoria and attended high school with (late) Douglas Jung, and later settled in Toronto where he was elected and re-elected on the School Board and City Council for more than two decades.”

“Our elderly pioneers are starting to pass away including the second generation sons and daughters. We recognize these three community leaders for their trail-blazing contributions in removing barriers for future generations. CCNC urges the Canadian Government to begin a genuine, inclusive and respectful reconciliation with our seniors who directly suffered from legislated racism and exclusion.”

Colleen Hua

National President




Some obituaries from media sources:

James Marr

MARR, James (MAH JIN YUET) September 14, 1911 – November 7, 2007 On November 7, 2007, James Marr of Edmonton passed away at the age of 96 years. He is survived by his sons, Tom and Dean; daughters, Ngan Tang Wong, Mae Mak, Lily (Thomas) Welsh, and Jeannie (William) Chow; 12 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; sister-in-law; as well as numerous nieces and nephews. James is also survived by his sister and her family; all of Hong Kong . He was predeceased by his wife; daughter; younger brother; and a great-granddaughter. A Funeral Service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, November 16, 2007 at the Howard & McBride Chapel of Chimes Funeral Home, 10179-108 Street, Edmonton . Interment to follow at Beechmount Cemetery . Howard & McBride Chapel of Chimes, (780) 422-1141


Victoria Yip

Victoria Yip (nee Lore) Loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother passed away peacefully at the age of 96 years on November 11, 2007 in Ottawa, Ontario. She was predeceased by her husband Quene (1994), who she faithfully supported during their 62 years of marriage. She was born in 1911 in Victoria, B.C, the first child of Chinese scholar Lore Neen and Chan Ling Ching. Her father instilled in her an appreciation of art, nature, beauty, and a love of learning. At the age of eleven, Victoria 's mother passed away, leaving her to care for three younger sisters (Louise, Mary, Helen) and two younger brothers (Martin, Abraham), while still attending Chinese school and English school. She later taught at Chinese school, while working to help support the family.

In 1935 she married Quene, 16th son of Chinese Canadian patriarch, Yip Sang, and over the years Victoria became a beloved member of this very large and well known Vancouver family. In 1942, Victoria and Quene left Vancouver with their young family and settled in Blubber Bay , a small coastal community on Texada Island , where Quene worked as a chemist. Over the next twenty-five years, while caring for three growing boys, Victoria actively participated in many community activities such as the PTA, recreation association, United Church , and bridge clubs. She also taught painting, brought in a Shakespearean play, and even produced and directed a play featuring local children.

She was renowned for her fabulous Chinese meals and made many lifelong friends on the island. Victoria welcomed and extended her hospitality to all those around her, regardless of whether they were blood relations or not. In 1967, Victoria and Quene moved back to Vancouver where she later worked as a buyer in Ming Wo Cookware. In 1980, she officially retire but continued to share her stories and experiences in the film Saltwater City and the book Voices of Chinese Canadian Women, as well as with Chinese Canadian historical writers like Paul Yee and Wayson Choy.

Two other artistic passions in her life were Chinese opera, which she attended in Victoria and Vancouver in the 1920's and 1930's, and oil painting, which she pursued in her fifties and sixties. In 2003, Victoria moved to the Amherst nursing home in Vancouver . Two years later, she moved to the Glebe Centre nursing home, and she spent her final days at the Ottawa General Hospital .

The family wishes to express their gratitude to the staff for their dedicated and compassionate care, and special thanks to her wonderful caregivers and especially to Carolina and Ann. Victoria will be lovingly remembered for her strength, generosity, kindness, love and devotion to her family and her many, many friends and relatives. She is survived by sister Louise, sons Rick (late Angeline), Randall (Brenda Austin) and Robert (Lisa), grandchildren Jill, Andrew, Karen, Jennifer (and partners), and Sophie, Melissa and Alison and also great grandchildren Benjamin, Andrew and Eveline.

Service and interment will be held Saturday, November 17, 10:30 am, at Forest Lawn cemetery, 3789 Royal Oak Avenue , Burnaby , BC . In Victoria 's memory, donations may be made to the charity of your choice.
Published in the Vancouver Sun and/or The Province from 11/15/2007 – 11/16/2007.


Ying Hope

From Toronto Star:
Head-tax apology his crowning triumph – News – Head-tax apology his crowning triumph

Former city councillor was a family man who was immensely proud of his Chinese-Canadian heritage

November 14, 2007

Paola Loriggio
Staff Reporter

Ying L.K. Hope wasn't the type to sit around and complain – he wanted to make change happen.

That's why at age 40, Hope took on the rough-and-tumble world of Toronto politics, becoming the first Chinese-Canadian to serve on the Toronto school board, and later on the city and Metro councils.

“What he wanted to do was make life better for his family by improving the community around us,” recalled his son, Michael.

Hope died in his sleep Monday at Sunnybrook hospital. He was 84.

Born in Victoria , Hope studied math and engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle before moving to Toronto in 1948, where he ran a successful engineering consultancy.

He launched his political career in 1963 at the Toronto Board of Education. Six years later, he was elected as alderman and represented Ward 5 for eight terms, until the late '80s.

Though he led a very public life, Hope remained a family man at heart. He spent as much time as he could with his children, taking them out to lunch every Sunday after church, Michael Hope said.

Hope “had the best old-fashioned values that you don't see much of any more,” his son said.

He was also very proud of his Chinese-Canadian heritage, a pride he strove to instill in his children.

He used his political clout to demand a public apology from the Canadian government for the Chinese head tax, a discriminatory fee charged for each Chinese immigrant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hope's own grandparents were part of a wave of cheap labour imported from China to work on the railways and in mines, all of whom had to pay the notorious tax.

The government's official apology last year was Hope's crowning achievement, his son said.

Hope then seized the chance to fulfill another long-time dream. Along with a coalition of Chinese- Canadian groups, he helped chronicle the struggles of that community in an exhibit earlier this year.

Though out of politics for years, Hope worked until recent months as a civil engineer and real estate agent, a career he began at 70.

Relatives gathered yesterday at the family home in Toronto . Hope leaves behind his wife of 14 years, Audrey, and four children, Jim, Judy, Michael and Madeline, from his first marriage to Alice Hope.

The viewing is set for tomorrow from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the York Cemetery chapel, 160 Beecroft Rd. A funeral will take place Friday at 1 p.m.


Redress Express comes to Centre A – bringing art and examination about Canada's racist past

Redress Express comes to Centre A – bringing art and examination about Canada's racist past

What is the Redress Express, and what does it have to do with racism?

2007 is a significant year for anniversaries in Asian-Canadian history:

1907 – 100 year anniversary of the Chinatown riots by the Anti-Asiatic League

1947 – the end of the Chinese Exclusion Act and the beginning of franchise rights including voting for Canadians of Chinese ancestry.

1957 – Canada's first Chinese-Canadian MP elected to Parliament – Douglas Jung

1967 – Changes in immigration law, making it more fair and accessible for Chinese immigrants.

1997 – Hong Kong turnover to China

1996 – 1st year anniversary of federal apology and promise of redress payments for the Chinese Head Tax.

Centre A, brings together an exciting program working with community groups and artists.  Here is what Ron Mah had to say about the weekend's events.

Redress Express Symposium ( 01 & 02 August )

– Sid Chow Tan  is now an “Artist” after his brief 5 minute talk & 10 minute video presentatsion of the journey of Head Tax Redress;  Hank Bull (curator plus) stated that “If Sid's  video isn't art, then I don't know what is!”

– Victor Wong
had an excellent talk on Head Tax & Redress

  titled “True Grits, Kwan Gung and Luck:
The Inside Stories of the Head Tax Redress Campaign”

– Many excellent national speakers
of academia and the arts provided

  varied views from many perspectives providing an
interesting program.

– filming of the first day
was done by both ACCESS, FEARLESS TV

  and also by the Symposium.

-Henry Yu,
graciously, organized a delicious 10 course Retro period

 Chinese Canadian Restaurant Dinner.  Fortunately, I was sitting next to Henry
and Karin Tam who were also at the same table.  They had both researched and provided  the chefs with the specific customized dishes that is not normally on their menus.  It was fun, filling and informative.

-Centre A
is now transformed into a retro Chinese Canadian Restaurant for

 the next 5 weeks by Karen Tam but no food is served.  This is a must see

 free installation.

-Karin Lee's
Friday evening outdoor showing at the Chinese Night  Market was
starting and I saw myself for a brief second in the short produced by

 the women's dragon boat team Genesis.

-Sean & I
networked and partied till  2am and 3am until  Karen Tam had to

 catch her 6am flight back home to Montreal.  The Saturday night party was

 great: lots of fun and jamming and all round opportunity for future collaboration
with the whole group.

-Thanks to Alice Ming Wai Jim, Henry Yu and Victor Wong for making this happen for us.

from the Centre A website:


In conjunction with:
2007 Anniversaries of Change (
Powell Street Festival (August 4-5, 2007,
explorASIAN (Vancouver Asian Heritage Month,

Patron: Anndraya T. Luui

Date: August 3 to September 1, 2007
Venue: Centre A, 2 West Hastings Street
Opening: Friday, August 3, 7pm, Centre A, 2 West Hastings Street

Date: August 2-3, 2007, 10am to 5pm
Location: Chinese Cultural Centre, 555 Columbia Street
Gail & Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art
at the Department of Art History, Concordia University, the University
of British Columbia, and Emily Carr Institute for Art + Design + Media
(Click here to download the symposium program and abstracts)

Free admission

exhibition “REDRESS EXPRESS: Chinese Restaurants and the Head Tax Issue
in Canadian Art” features recent photography, video and installations
by five Chinese-Canadian artists: Gu Xiong (Vancouver), Shelly Low
(Montreal), Ho Tam (Victoria, BC), Karen Tam (Montreal), and Kira Wu
(Vancouver). It is held in conjunction with the two-day symposium
“REDRESS EXPRESS: Current Directions in Asian Canadian Art and Culture”
which brings together over twenty scholars, community activists,
cultural organizers, and artists from many disciplines to consider
current and future directions in Asian Canadian art and culture. The
REDRESS EXPRESS project is curated by Alice Ming Wai Jim and
accompanied by a colour catalogue with additional graphic illustrations
by Joanne Hui (Montreal).

As a whole, the REDRESS EXPRESS
project is an attempt to examine the current politics of
representation, redress and recognition in Canada as they relate to
art, activism, identity and geography. The call for redress has long
been the bookends for Asian Canadian critiques of Canada's racist past.
The recent victory of the redress campaign for surviving Chinese head
tax payers and their spouses and its inevitable effects on the current
politics of reparation and representation in this country, however,
presents another challenge: to ensure an ongoing, rigorous treatment
these issues demand in political, cultural and educational sectors.
With the host of 2007 anniversaries of historical dates significant to
Canadians and Asian Canadian communities in particular celebrated this
year, this provision of critical texts in contemporary discourse and
practice and the broadening of understanding to address cross-cultural
perspectives and realities remains imperative.

Dim Sum with Olivia Chow in Vancouver

Dim Sum with Olivia Chow in Vancouver

Olivia Chow and Todd Wong (center) with Barry Morley (left) and Mary-Woo Sims (right) – photo Todd Wong Collection

Olivia Chow came to Vancouver, ditched husband Jack Layton, and attended Meena Wong's monthly Dim Sum networking lunch at Rich Ocean Restaurant.  Actually, Jack Layton attended the Pride brunch, as Jack and Olivia attend Pride parades across Canada.  Meena has known Layton and Chow from her time living in Toronto, and is now continuing to handle communications and community building in Vancouver's Chinese language community for the NDP.  I've known Meena since 2002, when soon after arriving in Vancouver, she came to help volunteer for Asian Heritage Month events organized by explorASIAN.

Meena Wong and Olivia Chow addressing 40 people at Rich Ocean restaurant on Saturday- photo Todd Wong

The crowds came out to welcome Olivia to Vancouver.  Libby Davies MP for Vancouver East, dropped in to say hello.  COPE organizer Mel Lehan and his wife attended. Victor Wong, executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council was in town.  Sid Tan, Sean Gunn and Ron Mah of the Chinese Head Tax Families Society attended.  Even Faye Leung dropped in.  In all there were about 40 people.

I had a nice chat with Olivia.  Meena had seated us at the same table.  I knew she would be interested in hearing about the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy.  And she was also very interested to learn more about Gung Haggis Fat Choy – which she would love to attend, if and when I bring my Robbie Burns Chinese New Year dinner to Toronto.

Olivia joins Vancouver's head tax descendants for a picture: standing: ??, Mary, Ron Mah, Olivia Chow, Sid Tan, Faye Leung, Todd Wong; sitting: Sid Wong, Sean Gunn, Victor Wong (executive director of Chinese Canadian National Council) + head tax redress supporter  Mary-Woo Sims.

The federal NDP was the first national party to recognize the
importance of redress for Chinese Canadian head tax issue.  Olivia
recognized that it was Margaret Mitchell who first brought the issue to
Canadian Parliament in 1984.  Olivia also supported the calls for Chinese Head Tax redress, as head tax became an issue in the 2006 federal election.  She also supports and inclusive redress that would honour every head tax equally, not just for the surviving head tax payers and their spouses, but also the head tax certificates that were left in the hands of the daughters, sons and grandchildren when the original head tax payers couldn't live to see the federal apology by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Powell Street Festival 2007

Powell St. Festival 2007 – Always lots to see and do!

Is this Todd Wong?  He's wearing a Gung Haggis Fat Choy shirt and he's
Chinese-looking…  I tlooks like he's hawking haggis won-ton…

Noooo!!!!  It's Todd's friend Walter Quan… and he is holding up his
famous sushi and won-ton cnadles that he sells at the Powell Street
Festival every year.

Lots to see and do at the Powell Street Festival
Great arts, entertainment, history and culture displays.  It integrates
traditional and contemporary Japanese-Canadian cultures with the
Downtown Eastside and the historic sites of Japantown.

True patriot Love: North Shore News article on Todd Wong, Betty Wong and Tracey Hinder re: The Chan Legacy

True patriot Love: North Shore News article on Todd Wong, Betty Wong and Tracey Hinder re: The Chan Legacy

True patriot love

Family proud of its Canadian heritage

Erin Mcphee,
North Shore News

Published: Sunday, July 29, 2007

– Generations: The Chan Legacy is re-scheduled for August 19, on CBC Newsworld at 4 p.m. PST / 7pm EST

Three generations of the Chan family: Tracey Hinder (left), Betty Wong and Todd Wong look over their family's impressive legacy.

Three generations of the Chan family: Tracey Hinder (left), Betty Wong and Todd Wong look over their family's impressive legacy.

NEWS photo Mike Wakefield

To say that Todd Wong, a 47-year-old North Vancouver resident, is proud of his roots would be an understatement.

family is one that has greatly impacted Canada's history and as a
result its members continue to celebrate where they come from.

ancestors arrived on the West Coast from China in 1896 and were able to
integrate into Canada despite the many barriers that existed. Inspired
by that impressive past, today, the Chan family, one of the oldest on
the West Coast, continues to thrive with its new generations working
hard to keep their legacy alive.

“We're just a Canadian family,”
says Wong, not downplaying his family's identity, but rather stating,
realistically, who they are.

Not only has the Chan family survived, its members are continuing to thrive, exemplifying what it means to truly be “Canadian.”

family's unique story is being brought to life in Generations: The Chan
Legacy, a CBC documentary airing today on CBC Newsworld. It's part of a
series of documentaries called Generations and was produced by Halya

Filmmakers approached Wong, known in the Lower Mainland
for his unique interest in multiculturalism, community work and
activism. He's the founder of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, a website promoting
inter-cultural activities.

Wong is also behind a 10-year-old
Vancouver tradition, the Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner — a mix
of Chinese and Scottish traditions meant to play against racial
stereotypes — and he's a member of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon
boat team that further promotes multiculturalism and community spirit.

website site also details his adventures, told at times through his
alter ego, “Toddish McWong,” further celebrating what it is to be
Canadian, he says.

The documentary discusses Wong's great, great
grandfather Reverend Chan Yu Tan and how he and his wife came to the
West Coast in 1896 to “spread the gospel” throughout, he says.
Methodist church missionaries, they were tasked with “Westernizing” and
“Christianizing” the Chinese pioneers, the majority working in
labour-based jobs like the railroad.

Filming and interviews with Wong and his relatives, encompassing a number of generations, happened last fall.

the documentary, I didn't know a lot about my ancestry,” says Wong's
second generation cousin, West Vancouver resident Tracey Hinder, 15,
who's featured in the film. Hinder attends West Vancouver secondary.

only knew that I was Chinese-Canadian, that my mother was Chinese and
that my father was British-Canadian. With the making of the
documentary, I found that my family history started to unfold and I
never knew that part of myself. It was absolutely fascinating,” Hinder

Hinder is a member of her school's multiculturalism club,
which organizes activities for students to participate in. She's also
learning Mandarin.

Wong says he's proud of her as he believes
it's important to ensure the younger generations of his family come to
know and recognize their ancestral roots.

Read More:

Generations: The Chan Legacy on CBC Newsworld. July 29th – 4pm and midnight

Generations: The Chan Legacy on CBC Newsworld.
July 29th – 4pm and midnight

Chan Legacy is the lead episode in the new documentary series
Generations on CBC Newsworld.  It debuted on July 4th – my grandmother's 97th birthday.

How fitting!  Because the show is about her grand-father Rev. Chan Yu Tan who came to Canada in 1896 as a Christian missionary.

has been very positive.  Family members are very proud.  Friends are
very supportive.  Historians are enthusiastic. Strangers are thrilled.

Listen to Auntie Helen and Uncle Victor tell stories about Rev. and Mrs. Chan, and about growing up in pre-WW2 BC, and facing racial discrimination.  Uncle Victor Wong also tells about enlisting as a Canadian soldier to go behind enemy lines in the Pacific for suicide squadrons, fighting for Canada, even though Chinese-Canadians could not vote in the country of their birth.

The next generations assimiliated more easily into Canadian culture.  Gary Lee became an actor and singer.  Janice Wong became a visual artist and author of the book CHOW: From China to Canada – memories of food and family, which addressed the history of Rev. Chan coming to Canada, and how Janice's dad started a Chinese restaurant in Prince Albert SK.

Then there is Todd Wong – cultural and community activist who founded Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner – which inspired a CBC Vancouver television performance special.  Todd is shown active in the dragon boat community, and speaking at a Terry Fox Run in the role of a 16 year cancer survivor.  Renowned Japanese-Canadian author Joy Kogawa makes an appearance, as Todd was also involved in helping to save Kogawa's childhood home from demolition and to turn it into a national historic and literary landmark.

July 29th Sunday – repeats at midnight

  4:00 p.m. Generations: The Chan Legacy
– Missionaries from China come to the West Coast help Westernize Chinese immigrant workers in the late 1800's.
Generations: The Chan Legacy