Policy and Prejudice in Canada
While today Canada would be viewed as one of the countries with the most kind and inclusive community, it too had its dark times. It is hard to believe that there was a time where Canada had policies based on discrimination and bias towards certain ethnicities when today our culture is so heavily reliant on the diversity if our population. While Canada has made many changes to its policies throughout the years to better accommodate those who live here, it is important to remember the impact and significance of these past policies, as they were the cause of suffering for many people within Canadian history. One of the most prejudiced policies within Canadian history would be the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Due to the influx of Chinese immigrants coming into Canada within the years of 1881 to 1884, prejudiced politicians believed that this increase in immigration was detrimental to Canada. They believed that Chinese people were stealing the jobs of Canadians as they were willing to work for less than the host population (Part 3: Why Were The Chine…, n.d.). This policy led to early Chinese works not being allowed to bring their families to Canada. This meant that workers would spend a long portion of their lives separated from their family and loved ones. This led to the Chinese Canadian community to be seen as a “bachelor community”. During this time, many Chinese wives were left in China to raise their children alone while their husbands struggled to survive in Canada. This lead to many Chinese families facing starvation and economic hardships (CCNC : Chinese Head T…, n.d). In addition to this, there were multiple instances of racism that perpetuated by this law. Chinese citizens were denied their right to vote, to practice medicine or law, to seek employment on public works or to own land. All of these restrictions led to the Chinese community remaining at a low social and economic position (Chan, n.d). The policy has since been removed as of 1947, however, the final elements of this act where not completely eliminated until 1967 (Susan Munroe Can.., 2017). This occurred after the end of WW2, when Canada signed the United Nation’s Charter of Human Rights. Due to the fact that the Chinese Immigration Act was inconsistent with the charter which made the Canadian Parliament decide to repeal the act. (The Unive…).
The legacy left by this act is the five million dollar fund that was allocated to projects that addressed Chinese immigration restrictions in 2008. This lead to 33 artistic projects being created to bring to light the injustice that occurred during this time period. However, despite Chinese citizens now having the right to vote and being treated with equal immigration policies as other countries, there are still issues to this day regarding the large amount of money the Canadian government had taken from the Chinese community. Organizations such as the Chinese Canadian National Council and the National Congress of Chinese Canadians pressured the government to acknowledge the discrimination that took place and to provide financial redress to the head-tax payers. The need for redress led to multiple protests and events rallied by Chinese Canadians. After a submission filed by these organizations, the UN special rapporteur that focuses on issues like this, suggested that Canada redress the head tax (Chan, n.d).
During the years, while multiple apologies have gone out to those who suffered from this Exclusion Act, there were fewer than 50 head tax payers out of 785 people that received payments from the federal government in 2009. The sons and daughters of the family members that were excluded from the 2006 continue to the redress campaign today. (Chan, n.d). In my personal opinion, I do not believe there has been something that is good enough to consider this issue of a thing of the past. I believe that the discrimination is still prevalent due to the government not providing an apology and compensation for all head tax payers and their descendants.
Part 3: Why Were The Chinese Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Laws Enacted? (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://immigrationwatchcanada.org/2006/03/22/part-3-why-were-the- chinese-head-tax-and-chinese-exclusion-laws-enacted/
CCNC : Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://www.ccnc.ca/redress/history.html
Chan, A. (n.d.). Chinese Head Tax in Canada. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/chinese-head-tax-in-canada/#h3_jump_2
Susan Munroe Canada News Expert. (2017, February 05). What was Canada’s Chinese Exclusion Act and Head Tax? Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://canadaonline.about.com/od/historyofimmigration/a/chineseheadtax.htm
The University of British Columbia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://www.library.ubc.ca/chineseinbc/exclusion.html