Gim Wong: Gutsiest Ride Against Facism – in the Best of Vancouver
Our Rice Paper Magazine 10th Anniversary Dinner is HOT!
Gim Wong makes this week's Georgia Straight “Best of Vancouver.”
Joy Kogawa was interviewed today by Alexandra Gill for the Globe & Mail
Can we pick'em or what?
Vancouver – Georgia Straight, September 22,
ride against racism
In a city
saturated with bubble-tea houses and conversations in Cantonese, it’s easy to
overlook the fact that this country once employed legislated discrimination
against Asians. But what’s even more surprising is the lack of resolution to
the Chinese head-tax issue. It’s particularly unjust for a country that invited
more than 10,000 Chinese immigrants to help build the Canadian Pacific
railroad, and then, when the project was completed, turned around and slapped a
$50 head tax on all Chinese Canadians. The tax was subsequently raised to $100
in 1900, then $500 in 1903. As if that wasn’t enough, the Chinese Immigration
(Exclusion) Act came into effect from 1923 to 1947. The act restricted the flow
of Chinese immigrants, thereby stifling the growth of Chinese Canadian
communities, fracturing families, and creating economic and emotional hardships.
Chinese Canadian National Council has fought for redress for more than 20 years
and garnered support from the likes of Pierre Burton and United Nations special
rapporteur on racism and xenophobia Doudou Diene. Yet while Japanese Canadians
interned during the Second World War received redress in 1988 and even
Ukrainian Canadians interned during the First World War received theirs on
August 24 of this year, Chinese Canadian head-tax payers, of which only a
handful are still living, remain uncompensated.
83-year-old Vancouverite Gim Wong, a Second World War Air Force veteran and
Canadian-born son of two Chinese head-tax payers. Last year on July 1, Wong did
a trial run on his motorcycle to Craigellachie, B.C. This year, he left Mile 0
at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria in June on a cross-country ride to raise
awareness, promote support, and take a petition asking Ottawa to compensate
Chinese-Canadians for the $23 million collected from head-tax payers by paying
$21,000 to each survivor and by starting a compensation negotiation process for
descendents. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Paul Martin has not responded to
requests from the CCNC to discuss the issue. Nevertheless, the tenacious Wong
did complete his long journey in Montreal on July 5, and will be honoured at
the tenth anniversary party for Asian Canadian magazine Rice Paper here in
Vancouver on September 24.