Second Annual Chinatown Redress Rally, Saltwater City BC – July 1st is still “Humiliation Day” for many

Second Annual Chinatown Redress Rally, Saltwater City BC

July 1st is still “Humiliation Day” for many of the descendants of head tax payers.  Only Chinese immigrants were forced to pay the racist head tax starting in 1885, and lasting until 1923.  On July 1st, 1923, the Canadian government replaced the $500 head tax and instead passed the Chinese Immigration Act” which banned all Chinese immigration to Canada – forcing the separation and preventing reuniting of families.  It was repealed in 1947, but immigration was still severely restricted until 1967, when the points system was brought in.

On June 22nd, 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave a parliamentary apology for the Chinese Head Tax and offered ex-gratia payments to surviving head tax payers and spouses only.  This left many head tax certificates out of the loop.  In fact, only less than one percent – 0.6% of head tax certificates are being recognized.  This leaves the sons, daughters and grandchildren of 99.4% of deceased head taxpayers without the “symbolic compensation” entitled to their ancestors. The Head Tax Families Society of Canada and the Chinese Canadian National Council are still asking the Government of Canada to recognize each head tax certificate equally and fairly.

BC CoalitionSee last report on last year's rally

Below is a special report from Sid Tan + media reports on the Chinatown Head Tax redress rally.

It was a damn fine rally yesterday and a good time was had by all. We did the ring around Chinatown walk from memorial up Keefer to Gore and down Pender to Chinese Cultural Centre and finished back at memorial.   

Big round of applause for Daniel, Cynthia, Lily, Foon, Mary, George and the Mrs. – Suen, Yip, Lee and the rest of the phoners and organizers. Charlie Quan and the Quon Lung boys, Ho Sheng, Philip Yuen and Mrs. Der's daughter – Mrs. Jang – were there. Susan was terrific on megaphone. Karen came by later and did some video. I counted over 130 people massed just before we left memorial and began walk. Picked
up a few along the way. Lost a few too!

I'm told Vancouver Ming Pao has a great photo and we had tv news coverage from Multivan and Fairchild. There are 17 stories on our rally across Canada , mostly pick up of CP newswire. Greg Joyce who filed the CP story picked up by Globe and Mail was there at 10:00am and left before the larger contingent showed.

Members of Parliament Libby Davies came by early and Ujjal Dosanjh came by later to lend support. No city councillors or MLA's though… Probably all at the flag raising at CCC, where we stopped and did 10 minutes of megaphone work and chanting slogans on perimeter. I'm sure we got their attention. There were a lot of old faces, age-wise and old-timers from two decades of campaigning.   

I specifically told media this rally was organized by HTFSC and speaking on their behalf. They are still getting my involvement and titles mixed up.  Anyhow, we are starting preparations for our September action and organizing a lean mean political dream machine for next federal election. Look for a bigger and better Third Annual Chinatown Redress Rally next year same time and same place!

Again, thanks to all who participated and to those supporting our movement. It was an apple tart day without apple tarts. Pehaps Kwan Kung's (Chinese protector of sojourners) way of telling me to lose some weight.

Take care.    anon   Sid

Chinese want more from Federal Government

Jul, 02 2007 – 1:00 AM


About one-hundred people celebrated Canada Day by rallying in Chinatown to call for further redress from Ottawa for families of Chinese immigrants who paid a head tax. Currently, only surviving head tax payers or spouses are eligible to claim settlements from the Federal Government.

But Sid Tan with the Head Tax Families Society of Canada says the redress is incomplete, “Well, what the Government has done, that's Stephen Harper, is that they have only redressed approximately six-hundred family claimants and we believe that the Government has taken an issue of justice and redress and honour, and turned it into vote-buying and pandering.”

Tan says the rally was held on Canada Day because on July 1st, 1923, the Government of Canada brought in the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese immigration for 24 years.

PROTEST: Head-tax compensation doesn't go far enough, rally told

Canadian Press, July 2, 2007

VANCOUVER — Several dozen people met in Vancouver 's Chinatown for a Canada Day rally to back their demand for further redress from the federal government for families of Chinese immigrants who paid a discriminatory head tax from 1885 to 1923.

“We're all proud Canadians and we're exercising our rights to call on the Stephen Harper government to provide an inclusive, just and honourable redress,” rally organizer Sid Tan said. The federal government has turned the issue into “vote-buying and optics,” he said.

“[Prime Minister Harper] has only addressed 0.6 per cent of all head-tax families and we believe all head-tax families should be treated equally,” Mr. Tan said.

“There are still elderly sons and daughters of head-tax families who suffered and were excluded by the head tax.”

Currently, only surviving head-tax payers or their spouses are eligible to claim a $20,000 settlement from the federal government.

The Conservative government formally apologized a year ago for the head tax and the subsequent 24-year ban on immigration from China .

Compensation should be extended to the families of deceased head-tax payers who also suffered as a result of the policy, say the supporters of head-tax compensation.

About 81,000 immigrants paid the head tax, which was imposed on Chinese immigrants entering Canada from 1885 until 1923.

The tax was set at $50 when it was first imposed in 1885, and in 1903 it rose to $500 – the equivalent of two years' wages.

Newfoundland also imposed a head tax from 1906 to 1949, the year it joined Confederation.

When Mr. Harper made the formal apology last summer, Chinese-Canadian groups had hoped the government would also compensate first-generation children of the head-tax payers.

New Democrat MP Libby Davies, whose riding includes Chinatown , was at the rally and called it “an important day for the families and survivors of head-tax payers.”

“Justice has still not been served. There are still survivors of the head tax who are waiting for the federal government to recognize their pain.”

Chinese-Canadians march in head-tax protest:
Further redress needed, say community leaders

By Cheryl Chan, The Province, Sunday, July 01, 2007
About 100 people marched through Chinatown today to demand further redress for the families and descendants of Chinese head tax payers.

“Many of the people who were in the rally today who are celebrating being Canadian weren't able to become Canadian until the repeal of [the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1947],” said Sid Tan of the Chinese
Canadian National Council.

He said only 600 families, or less than one per cent of head tax families, have received compensation from the Conservative government.  The redress package is not complete, says Tan, because families of deceased head tax payers who also suffered from the discriminatory policy are not eligible for compensation.  Currently, only living head-tax payers or their spouses are eligible for the $20,000 redress package.

The $50 head tax was first imposed on Chinese immigrants in 1885. It rose to $100 in 1900 and to $500 in 1903. More than 80,000 immigrants paid the head tax until it was lifted in 1923.

(c) The Province 2007

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