Toronto SUn: Head Tax Apology urged – new round of talks slated to happen

Toronto Sun:  Head Tax Apology urged – new round of talks slated to happen

A New round of talks for Head Tax redress will be starting soon. 
Chinese-Canadian groups from across Canada have been invited to attend
discussions with Heritage Minister Bev Oda.  This round will be
much more inclusive, now including the Chinese Canadian National
Council that was left out of the previous discussions because of their
insistence for an apology.

The National Congress of Chinese Canadians is insisting that the
Conservative government still honour the Liberal ACE program, even
though the Liberals promised an apology (that was not part of the
original package).  The Chinese Benevolent Association in
Vancouver has now said that the original redress package should be
scrapped.

Vancouver representatives will include the BC Coalition for Head Tax
Payers, Spouses and Descendants, as well as ACCESS (Association for
Chinese Canadian Equality and Solidarity Society, which helped lead
opposition against the Liberal ACE program which would only give
“acknowledgement, commemoration and education” but not an apology nor
individual compensation.

The Toronto Sun reported on this issue today.

March 22, 2006

Head tax apology urged

Discriminated Chinese migrants are all elderly now

By SARAH GREEN, TORONTO SUN


Shee Johnson Wong, 103, is greeted by Dr. Joseph Wong at a press conference. (Photo: Laura Gallella, Toronto Sun.)

Sim Nuey Chin is 94. James Pon is 89.
They
are among the last survivors and their spouses — there may be as few
as 200 — who paid a head tax of $50 to $500 for Chinese to immigrate
to Canada decades ago.

With the number of survivors
dwindling as they enter their 90s and 100s, an Ontario group urged
Ottawa yesterday to apologize soon for the head tax and subsequent
Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigrants for more than two
decades until the end of World War II.
“We urge the
government to act quickly to ensure they see justice in their time,”
said Susan Eng, co-chairman of the Ontario Coalition of Head Tax Payers
and Families.

“100% IRON-CLAD”
The group hopes for a July 1 apology to coincide with the date in 1923 when the Exclusion Act came into force.  Halton
MP Garth Turner, who spoke for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, gave a
“100% iron-clad commitment” yesterday that the government would
apologize and redress past wrongs.

“This will happen,” Turner said, adding more details will emerge
in the Throne Speech on April 3.  Eng said negotiations are slated
to begin Friday with MPs Bev Oda and Jason Kenney.

Groups have not attached a dollar figure to compensation, but Eng noted 82,000 immigrants paid $23 million from 1885 to 1923.
17 YEARS TO REPAY
James Pon was just 5 years old when his father paid $1,000 to bring him and his mother to Canada in 1922.

“It
took him 17 years to repay this debt, even though the person who loaned
the money didn't charge him one penny of interest,”Pon recalled
yesterday.  His family was so destitute that Pon was “farmed out” at age 12 to work in restaurants.

“It was horrible. My father couldn't afford to keep me at home. From a boy of 12, I was suddenly a man,” Pon said.

Sim
Nuey Chin, whose husband paid the $500 tax, lived apart from her spouse
for nearly 30 years, separated by the Exclusion Act.
 

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