Chinese Head Tax Redress: Recent letters to the Editors for Vancouver Courier and Shared Vision articles

Here are recent letters to the editor that have appeared in the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Courier and Shared Vision magazine regarding their recent articles on Redress for the Chinese Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act (1897 to 1947).

Vancouver Sun, March 2, 2005
Letters: Liberals float a red herring on redress 
There are still seniors alive who paid the racist head tax and targeted by legislation separating families. They and their descendants should be the focus of any redress settlement and also dictate the terms of community compensation. 
Given that the Japanese Canadian redress did not incur any liability with individual pay-outs and community compensation, why would it be different for Chinese Canadians?
The obvious conclusion is Conservative Brian Mulroney's justice depatment lawyers for the Japanese Canadian redress are smarter
than Liberal Paul Martin's for a Chinese Canadian redress. Or is the liability issue cited by Multicultural Minister Raymond Chan a poor excuse?
Sid Chow Tan, director

Original article, Settling the Score February 2005

Shared Vision, March 2005 
Letters: Head Tax Not Just a Chinese Issue 

I am a fifth-generation Vancouverite. My grandfather paid the head tax, my great-grandfather paid the head tax. I had the pleasure to talk with filmmaker Karen Cho ( In the Shadow of Gold Mountain ), and I was amazed when she told me that the British/white side of the family was more angry about the head tax than the Chinese side of the family.

My cousins have all been marrying non-Chinese people, mostly of Scottish, Irish, or English ancestry.
We have fifth-, sixth- and seventh- generation descendents who are only one-quarter Chinese.
We have First Nations children whose great-great-grandfather had to pay a Chinese head tax.
This is no longer a Chinese issue—it is a
Canadian issue. When the Canadian government finally realizes there are non-Chinese Canadians demanding head-tax redress for their grandfathers and great grandfathers, maybe then they will wake up.
How many generations will it take to inter-marry into the families of Canadian politicians?

Todd Wong, Vancouver


original article: Chinese Says Apology Long Overdue

Vancouver Courier, February 13,

Letters: Canada owes Chinese justice

Happy Lunar New Year and many thanks for your story on Daniel  Lee's
efforts to seek an apology for the racist head tax on
Chinese immigrants from 1885 to 1923 (“Chinese senior says apology
long  overdue,” Feb. 17).

It enriches our country when elders such as Daniel
Lee speak up  for a redress that tests Canadian laws and
conscience. All Canadians should be inspired by this.

Since 1984, over 4,500 head tax payers, spouses and
descendants, each representing a head tax certificate, have asked
the Chinese Canadian National Council to represent them in seeking
not only an apology, but a symbolic return of a portion of the
head tax money collected.

Where possible, the money should be returned to
individuals and families who paid it. The present day valuation of
the head tax collected would exceed a billion dollars. In the early
1900's, the $500 could buy two houses in Chinatown. Keep in mind
the CCNC seeks a refund of head taxes paid, not compensation for their

The Canadian government unjustly enriched itself by
$23-million with a law to initially deter and then profit from
Chinese immigration. That was close to the cost of building the
Canadian Pacific Railway, which tied together a coast to coast
confederation called Canada. So not only did Lo Wah Kiu (old
overseas Chinese) forbears build the most difficult and dangerous
last 300 miles of the railway, they paid for all of it!

The few living head-tax payers are in their 90s so
redress is urgent if  they are to see it. We hope Prime
Minister Paul Martin will finish his father's work to redress this
racist chapter of Canadian history. In 1947, the elder Paul
Martin, as Secretary of State, brought forth in the Commons the
Canadian Citizenship Act, which allowed the Chinese, then with 
“domestic aliens” status even if born here, to become citizens.

No amount of money can take away the hurt, angst and
oppression of Lo Wah Kiu heroes and heroines who endured and
prevailed over 62 years of targeted racist legislation. However, a
redress which commemorates them and their achievements is a start.
Along with an apology, we are  asking for what any Canadian
would want- refund of an unjust tax and   amends for the
racist family-separating exclusion. Where there are no claimants, the
money could start a foundation for education and research to end

Justice now. It's only fair.

Sid Chow Tan, director
Chinese Canadian National Council

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