Vancouver “Sons and Daughters of Head Tax” Community Meeting May 6 in Chinatown

Vancouver head tax Community Meeting May 6 in Chinatown

Sid Tan welcomes people to
the meeting for “Sons and Daughters of Head Tax”.  George Jung (BC
Coalition) and Victor Wong (CCNC) are seated, while Susan Jang
translates. – photo Todd Wong

Head tax payer Charlie Quan stood up in the audience of almost 300
people, and was applauded.  A 95 year old head tax payer’s spouse
also stood up to applause and acknowledgment from the crowded room at
SUCCESS building in Choi Hall.

“Redress Head Tax Payers now!” and “NCCC doesn’t speak for me!” shouted
from the television set, as video footage of the November 26th protest
against the ACE Agreement in Principle, greeted the assembling
crowd.  Volunteers were quickly adding more chairs to the
auditorium, as people continued to file in.

Almost 300 people attended the community meeting organized by ACCESS
(Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity), and the
BC Coalition of Head Tax Payers, Spouses and Descendants. Sid Tan,
ACCESS president and 20 year veteran of the redress movement, started
off with a passionate appeal for inclusion of families in any redress
settlement.  He then briefly explained the history of the redress
campaign and said that he didn’t think that the promise of apology and
individual compensation for head tax payers and spouses would happen so

Libby Davies gives her long standing support for head tax redress – photo Todd Wong

Members of Parliament Libby Davies (Vancouver East), Ujjal Dosanjh
(Vancouver South), BC Member of Legislative Assembly Jenny Kwan
(Vancouver Mount Pleasant), each addressed the crowd,  Libby
Davies recalled the early efforts by NDP MP Margaret Mitchell to bring
redress for the Chinese head tax.  She emphasized that it was
about fairness and justice and pledged her support and the federal NDP.

Ujjal Dosanjh
admits the Federal Liberals moved forward on the ACE program without
consensus throughout the Chinese community – photo Todd Wong

Ujjal Dosanjh echoed much of what Davies had said.  Ujjal
acknowledged that the previous Govt had not proceeded with a
consensus and stated that he would support redress for HT payers,
spouses and descendants.  He stated that the first time he
realized that the Chinese Canadian community held divergent views from
the proposed Agreement in Principle for the ACE program, was when he
attended the November 26th signing where the BC Coalition had held
demonstrations throughout the day.  He also stated his long held
positions of support on the head tax
redress issue beginning with his days as a government MLA, which asked
the Federal government to act and resolve the issue.

Jenny Kwan tells a touching story about a woman whose father's head tax certificate was burned at his burial – photo Todd Wong

MLA Jenny Kwan encouraged everybody to keep up the fight for a fair and
honorable redress.  Kwan said she had just talked with a woman who
had just left the meeting because she didn’t think her family would be
eligible for redress because they had  burned her father’s head
tax certificate at his burial,  She spoke both in Cantonese and
English, acknowledging the many seniors in the audience, and also later
translated for both Dosanjh and Davies as they listened to some of the

Victor Wong
listens to Cynthia Lam make a point, following the meeting, as
interested head tax descendants listen – photo Todd Wong

Victor Wong, CCNC executive director explained the two step process
proposed by the CCNC, where an apology and immediate compensation would
be made to surviving head tax payers and spouses by July 1, 2006,
followed by a process to determine compensation to the direct sons and
daughters of head tax payers as well as community redress.  Victor
thanked SUCCESS for letting use the hall (same place where Martin
signed the Aip).  He presented the revised framework and
CCNC's position: $21K for HT payers and spouses, $10K for sons and

George Jung, presented the BC Coalition position which is to include all
descendant claims (not only sons and daughters), a range of $10K to
$20K, a package of $100 million with the majority for individual
redress.  The seniors like the approach of one single figure and
inclusion of everyone and demonstrated this support in a standing vote.

Members of the audience were invited to speak to the speakers and the
audience.  Several people expressed that they wanted more
descendants to be included and that redress should not be limited to
only head tax payers and spouses, as most have already passed
away.  In general, the speakers were:

critical of NCCC;
critical of the Liberals
urging the one single figure for fairness, and equality
supported CCNC trusteeing any communty endowment

George Jung hands out head tax registration forms to the outstretched arms of head tax descendants – photo Todd Wong

The crowd was very appreciative of the efforts made by the redress
activists and participants.  After the meeting, many people came
to the stage to receive registration forms for head tax certificates
and asked questions about how to find documentation if they no longer
had the certificate.  They were told that microfilm is available
at the Vancouver Public Library as the History department has now
published an information sheet on how to look for head tax
information, which is linked on the VPL Chinese Canadian Genealogy web pages.

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