I have known Gim Wong for a few years. He served in the Canadian
Armed Forces during WW2 when Canadians of Chinese ancestry were
unwanted soldiers, and couldn't vote in the land of their birth.
Gim is a sweetheart of a man, which is why it is hard to believe that
he would ride a motorcycle across Canada to draw attention to redress
for Canada's infamous head tax and exclusion act.
This past summer Gim drove from Victoria BC to Ottawa ON, to try to
meet with Prime Minister Paul Martin. Gim met head tax descendants
across the country and also with NDP leader Jack Layton. But
sadly the PMO did not respond to any requests for a meeting. When
the Paul Martin came to Vancouver to sign the ACE Agreement in
Principle, aggreeing to No Apology, and No Compensation to head tax
survivors, spouses and descendants – Wong was in the audience.
But he still didn't meet with the Prime Minister. Click on my
stories about Gim Wong's Ride for Redress
Gim's story is also featured in the Karen Cho documentary IN THE SHADOW OF GOLD MOUNTAIN which was recently shown on CBC Newsworld “Rough Cuts” on January 3 and 7th.
Seeking an apology for the notorious head tax
It was, he admits, a truly nutty idea. Last summer, Gim Foon Wong
decided, with history weighing on his mind, that he'd ride his
motorcycle from Victoria to Ottawa to have a chat with the prime
Minister. He was a spry 82 and weighed just under 60 kg the day he
mounted his 315-kg Honda Goldwing and started heading for the nation's
Now, when an octogenarian straps on his
motorcycle boots and travels thousands of kilometres across the country
to Parliament Hill on his hog, one too heavy for him to right when it
falls over, one might think the politicians might want to know what was
on his mind.
Some did take an interest.
Party leader Jack Layton, for example, met with Wong on Canada Day,
when he roared into the capital decked out in his Second World War
uniform with two carefully polished service medals pinned over his
heart. Toronto Mayor David Miller was moved enough by the old man's
trek to write Wong a letter of commendation that now sits on a shelf in
his modest home in Burnaby.
Prime Minister Paul Martin? Well, that was another story.
got within 15 feet of him,” says Wong, shaking his head ruefully at the
memory of his one-man effort to penetrate the prime ministerial bubble.
“We let his office know I was coming. But the RCMP pounced on me. I
never got to meet Paul Martin.”
Read the rest if the story Gim Wong's motorcycle diaries