Will Conservative Government Begin Chinese Head-tax/Exclusion Redress? Chinese Canadians Hope Historic Injustice Is Addressed in Throne Speech

Will Conservative
Government Begin Chinese Head-tax/Exclusion Redress? Chinese Canadians
Hope Historic Injustice Is Addressed in Throne Speech

It has been 22 years since Redress for Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act became a political issue.  No political party wanted to touch it, except the NDP, when Margaret Mitchell tried to have it addressed by Parliament.  Since 1984, the Conservative governments of Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell, and the Liberal governments of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, have all avoided apology and redress for the estimated 22,000 Chinese immigrants who paid the racially based head tax to enter Canada, and who suffered the separation from their families when the Canadian government created the” Chinese Exclusion Act” that effectively legislated against any person of Chinese descent to immigrate to Canada.  During this time, Canadians born of Chinese descent could not have the vote. 

My maternal grandmother was born in Victoria in 1910, the grand-daughter of Rev. Chan Yu Tan, who arrived in Canada in 1896.  She could not vote until 1947, when the Exclusion Act was repealed and Canadians of Chinese descent were finally allowed to vote as part of enfranchisement. 

My friend Sid Tan, has been a long-time voice for apology and compensation for Head Tax survivors, spouses and descendants.  He is organizing the press conference in Vancouver following the Speech to the Throne. 

Also attending will be Gim Wong, who served in Canadian Armed Forces, even though he couldn't vote as a Chinese-Canadian.  Last year, Gim rode his motorcycle across Canada to Ottawa and Montreal at age 87 to ask Prime Minister Martin to make an apology for the Chinese Head Tax.

I have known both men for a number of years, and am proud to be able to call them friends.

Media Advisory: For Immediate Release – April 3, 2006

Will Conservative Government Begin Chinese Head-tax/Exclusion Redress? Chinese Canadians Hope Historic Injustice Is Addressed in Throne Speech

Vancouver BC – Representatives of the Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity Society (ACCESS) and the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) will be available after the Throne Speech on April 4, 2006 to comment on Chinese head-tax/exclusion redress. Also in attendance will be Gim Foon Wong, the 82-year old World War Two airforce veteran who rode his motorcycle across Canada in a Ride for Redress in 2005. 

Where: Guys and Dolls Billiards
       2434 Main Street, Vancouver
When:  12:00 noon – 3:00pm, April 4, 2006

On March 24, 2006, after consultation with Chinese Canadian community leaders from across Canada in Toronto, Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Jason Kenney stated they will act quickly to settle longstanding injustice of 62-years of oppressive legislation from 1885 � 1947 targeted at the Chinese in Canada.

“We are prepared to make decisions and therefore act within less than 12 weeks,” said Minister Oda in the March 24 media briefing reported by Saltwater City Television.  “As to the process of individual compensation, we are open to that concept. We are open to that idea.”

“We are going to see action and not just talk from the Stephen Harper government to finally redress this longstanding historic wrong that so many Chinese Canadians suffered under,” said  Jason Kenney in the same media briefing. Mr. Kenney is assisting on the file.

“It was a terrible injustice don’t you think?” asks Gim Foon Wong, the CCNC pioneer of the Year in 2001 for his leadership in the redress movement.  “The Canadian government apologized and compensated Japanese Canadians. It’s time they did the same for Chinese Canadians.”

“I hope Prime Minister Stephen Harper signals in the Throne Speech his government’s intent to act quickly,” said Sid Chow Tan, president of ACCESS and a national director of the CCNC.  “Redress will lose much of its meaning if we keep losing the few affected elderly seniors before they receive recognition and meaningful and significant redress.”

ACCESS is a not-for-profit anti-racism, human rights and social justice society as well as a community television corporation. It is an affiliate of the Chinese Canadian National Council and a member of the National Anti-Racism Council of Canada and STATUS Coalition. ACCESS works with other equality seeking organizations to fight racism and discrimination, to advance the rights of citizens and migrants living in Canada and to press the federal government to redress the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Acts.

CCNC is a national human rights organization with 27 chapters across Canada. Established in 1979, it has campaigned since 1984 with other redress-seeking groups including the BC Coalition of Head Tax Payers, Spouses and Descendants (BC Coalition), Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity
(ACCESS), Ontario Coalition of Chinese Head Tax Payers and Families (Ontario Coalition), and Chinese Canadian Redress Alliance (CCRA) for Chinese head-tax and exclusion redress.

– 30 –


Sid Chow Tan – 604-783-1853 (ACCESS/CCNC)
Victor Wong – 416-977-9871 (CCNC)

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