Mrs. Der, oldest living head tax spouse, dies without head tax refund

Mrs. Der, oldest living head tax spouse, dies without head tax refund

Mrs Quon Chung Shee Der
(謝關仲樹), 102, died last Friday,  Daniel Lee, fellow head tax
activist told me on Sunday morning.  Daniel and his wife Cynthia
were family friends and had visited her earlier in the week.  Mrs. Der
had by default, become the oldest living head tax spouse.  She had
been an active senior in the redress campaign.

I remember when Mrs. Der came to the November 20, 2005 meeting. 
Everybody applauded when she was introduced.  She climbed 2
flights of stairs, with two men helping her because she WANTED to be at
the meeting.  She was more than just feisty.  She kept asking
“When is the government going give me my husband's money back?” 
Okay… she said it in Chinese.

This was at the planning and information meeting prior to our historic Nov 27 Chinese Head Tax: Protest in Vancouver Chinatown
Mrs. Der and many other people vocalized the pent-up frustration of
having justice denied for generations.  It's more than just a
simple wrongful but legal at the time monetary issue.  Mrs.
Der  really understood the issue as moral too.  The Canadian
government made an unfair tax.  It was a racially motivated tax against
only people of Chinese ancestry, and meant to deter Chinese immigration
to Canada..  In 1923, they changed it to an act of outright
exclusion.  But in 1947, they recognized it was wrong and
recanted.  They should give the money back.

Sid
Chow Tan, CCNC National Chairperson issued the following statement of the
passing of Mrs. Quon Chung Shee Der:

On Saturday,
I learned of the passing of Mrs. Quon Chung Shee Der, who at 102 was one of the
oldest surviving matriarchs of the head tax families. On behalf of the Chinese
Canadian National Council, the Head Tax Families Society of Canada and the
Chinese Canadian community, I extend our deep condolences to Mrs. Der's family
and friends.

Quon
Chung Shee Der was one feisty and tenacious advocate for redress of the
Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act and we will miss her greatly.

My
colleagues and I will always remember Mrs. Der climbing up two flights of
stairs to attend a community meeting held on November 20, 2005. It was at this
pivotal community meeting that head tax families decided to mobilize the
community to protest the former Liberal Government's efforts to impose the
ill-fated Agreement-in-Principle. Mrs. Der stirred all of us with her simple
question: “When will the Government give me back my husband's head tax
money? She became an instant media star on that day.

Mrs.
Der made an effort to involve herself in the redress campaign. There she was on
May 25, 2006 sitting beside Prime Minister Harper when he visited with our
seniors to discuss the redress issue. The Prime Minister and Hon. Jason Kenney
pledged that she and others would not have to wait too long for redress.
However, while Mrs. Der did submit her redress application in early December
2006, unfortunately, she was unable to hang on any longer and passed away last
Friday.

The
Government has lost the opportunity to complete the redress apology with Mrs.
Der and about a dozen others who have now passed away since June 22, 2006. To
date, none of the more than 400 head tax spouses who applied have received
their redress payments. We pledge to redouble our efforts to achieve a complete
the apology for Mrs. Der and others like her. We will never forget her.”

May
she rest in peace.

History books have continued to write about the “black mark” in
the racist history of Canada.  But the government still wouldn't
apologize, or give a refund, as they do for other “tax mistakes.” 
The government did not want to have to pay for the $23 Million with interest.

But now with an acceptable “symbolic refund” and apology by Prime
Minister Stephen Harper, why is his Conservative government so
S-L-O-W?  No spouses have yet been offered ex-gratia 
payments.  Thank God, they finally gave head tax payer 
Ralph Lee
,
his cheque on March 10, before Lee passed away 5 days later at age
107.  But why wasn't Lee presented with his cheque 5 months ago
when head tax payer Charlie Quon received his?

The government has been confused and quagmired in it's definition of
“spouse” and it's refusal to acknowledge descendants as legal heirs to
head tax refunds.  

Make it simple.  One payment per certificate.  Recognize each
and every certificate.  Please do it before any more surviving
head tax payers, spouses, sons or daughters go empty handed to meet
their ancestors.

This is what the CCNC had proposed to the Conservative government when
they asked for suggestions for redress.  First stage proposals was
to Give immediate apology for Chinese Head Tax, give immediate
“symbolic” monetary redress payment to living head tax payers and
spouses.  Stage Two was to develop a plan to address “symbolic”
monetary redress payment to descendants where original head tax payers
or spouses are pre-deceased.”  To date, the Conservative govt has
not acknowledged the Stage Two proposal.

It's only been since 1984, since MP Margaret Mitchell stood in
Parliament to ask the govt for head tax redress… 23 short but long
years ago.

The following story if from Chineseinvancouver.blogspot.com

Head tax payer's spouse dies with regret


An
icon in the fight for redressing the head tax, Mrs Quon Chung Shee Der
(謝關仲樹), died at the age of 102 with the regret that the final
compensation cheque didn't reach her in time.

“My
colleagues and I will always remember Mrs. Der climbing up two flights
of stairs to attend a community meeting held on November 20, 2005. It
was at this pivotal community meeting that head tax
families decided to mobilize the community to protest the former
Liberal Government's efforts to impose the ill-fated
Agreement-in-Principle. Mrs. Der stirred all of us with her simple
question: “When will the Government give me back my husband's head tax
money? She became an instant media star on that day,” said CCNC's
national chair Sid Chow Tan.

Cynthia Lee
was Mrs Der's friend who helped her fill out the redress application
form last year when Heritage Canada announced head tax payers' spouses could apply for compensation. Mrs Der's husband paid the head tax. To her, getting the tax refund was all about having justice done.

Ever
since, Mrs Der kept asking if her application had been approved. Lee
said Mrs Der had been in anxiety for the last few months. Her health
deteriorated rapidly at the same time. She broke her arm and was
admitted to a long term care facility towards the end of last year.

Lee
questioned why the government needed so long to process applications
filed by head tax payers' spouses. It only took one month for the
payers themselves to get the checque. However, spouses have waited for
over four months and so far none have got the compensation yet.

Tan
said Mrs Der was one feisty and tenacious advocate for redress of the
Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act. “We will miss her greatly.”

Last
year when PM Stephen Harper met with head tax survivors in Vancouver's
Chinatown, Mrs Der sat beside Harper, so did another head tax payer
Charlie Quan (關祥國) of 99 years old.

Quan became the country's first head tax payer compensated last October.

“Mrs.
Der made an effort to involve herself in the redress campaign. There
she was on May 25, 2006 sitting beside Prime Minister Harper when he
visited with our seniors to discuss the redress issue. The Prime
Minister and Hon. Jason Kenney pledged that she and others would not
have to wait too long for redress. However, while Mrs. Der did submit
her redress application in early December 2006, unfortunately, she was
unable to hang on any longer and passed away last Friday,” Tan said in
a statement.

Tan blasts the Tory government for having lost the
opportunity to complete the redress apology with Mrs. Der and about a
dozen others who have now passed away since June 22, 2006.

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