Feb 23, 1887 Anti-Chinese Riot Remembered.. .120 years ago today

Feb 23, 1887 Anti-Chinese Riot Remembered… 120 years ago today

My paternal grandfather Wong Wah, arrived in Canada in 1882 and he
lived in Victoria.  My maternal great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan
Yu Tan, arrived in Canada in 1896, following his elder brother Rev.
Chan Sing Kai, who had come to Canada in 1888 to help found the Chinese
Methodist Church a year after the anti-Chinese 1887 riot.

It's amazing that it took 120 years for Chinese to now be considered
part of Canadian history and contributors to building Canadian
society.  But it wasn't always so… Even as late as the 1950's
and 1960's there was still much systemic racism.

Read the story below about the 1887 Anti-Chinese Riot in Vancouver.


February 23,

1887 Anti-Chinese Riot Remembered

The Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) marked the 120th
anniversary today of the anti-Chinese riot that took place in
Vancouver . “We mark this anniversary
today because it is part of our community’s unique history in facing the
overt and often violent manifestation of racial discrimination that resulted in
the Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act,” Sid Tan, National Chairperson of
CCNC said today. “We should all take this opportunity to learn from our
past mistakes, to restore dignity to the direct victims and to re-dedicate
ourselves to a just society built on the foundations of respect and acceptance.”

“We are encouraged by the messages of solidarity from Hon. Jason
of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)
and the Statement in
the House of Commons by Bill Siksay, M.P. for

After the 1886
Great Fire razed Vancouver ,
the City leased 60 hectares of forested land to some 100 Chinese. However,
was the
beginning of the Head Tax era, a period of overt racial discrimination
against Chinese Canadians, which was legitimized by racist legislation. M
racist sentiment culminated in a riot on February 23, 1887 when an angry mob of
300 assembled to run the Chinese out of town. They tore down the shanty-town
near Coal
Harbour and
roughed up the Chinese, some of whom managed to escape harm by jumping into the
frigid waters.

Two policemen
invoking the name of ‘Queen Victoria ’
stood their ground in between the mob and the Chinese labourers.
The mob soon retreated but set fire to buildings.
The 1887 riot also
sparked a prompt response from police and government officials. The BC Attorney
introduced An Act for the
Preservation of Peace within the Municipal Limits of the City
removed police powers from the city and sent over thirty-six special constables
from Victoria ,
B.C. to restore the peace. While the riot ended without any death or serious
injury, it did send a clear message to the Chinese that they were not welcome
and they left
Vancouver for
New Westminster , and some moved east to Alberta
and Ontario.The Chinese did eventually return to
Vancouver .

CCNC will work with partners to mark a number of important
anniversaries this year:

February 23, 2007:       120
year anniversary of the Anti-Chinese Riot in

April 17, 2007:               25 year anniversary of Charter of

May 14, 2007:               60 year anniversary of repeal of
Chinese Exclusion Act

June 10, 2007:               50 year anniversary of election of
Douglas Jung, the first CC MP

June 22, 2007:                 1 year anniversary of
Chinese Head Tax apology

Canada Day, 2007:      140
years of Confederation

September 8, 2007:      100
year anniversary of Anti-Asian Riot in Vancouver

October 1, 2007:            40 years of independent immigration
(points) system

CCNC recently led a delegation to Ottawa to seek inclusive redress for
the head tax families who are excluded from the June 22, 2006 announcement, and
will continue to work collaboratively with other redress-seeking groups to seek
a just and honourable resolution of the Head Tax and
Chinese Exclusion Act.




For media interviews, please contact:
Sid Tan, CCNC National Chairperson at (604) 433-6169
Victor Wong, CCNC Executive Director at (416) 977-9871


Ottawa ,
February 22, 2007

By Jason Kenney

Secretary of State
(Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)

Secretary of State Kenney Regrets 120th Anniversary
of Anti-Chinese riot in Vancouver

Jason Kenney, MP, PC, Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and
Canadian Identity) sends his personal expressions of regret and solidarity with
Chinese Canadians in Vancouver
on the occasion of the 120th Anniversary of the Anti-Chinese Riot of

“The Riot of February 23, 1887 is one of the regrettable
episodes in the history of the Chinese in
Canada ,” Kenney said.

“It is also an occasion to recognize the role that our
police have played in maintaining peace, order, and good government. In this
case, police invoked the name of Queen Victoria
to protect the Chinese minority from a violent mob. It’s a reminder that
the Crown is the traditional protector of minorities in our great

“That a
rioting mob set fire to the private property of Vancouver's Chinese community
this day 120 years ago should serve as a reminder that we should cherish and
uphold a just and tolerant society.”


Tenzin Khangsar

Chief of Staff

of the Secretary of State

and Canadian Identity)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ three = 11