60 Years of Justice for Chinese Canadians: Reflecting on the 60th Anniversary of Repealing the Chinese Exclusion Act

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the repeal of Canada’s discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act, when Chinese immigrants were finally granted the right to become Canadian citizens. The NDP is marking this as an historic moment in Canadian history.

“We recognize the important struggles the Chinese community has had to confront in becoming Canadian citizens,” said NDP Citizenship and Immigration Critic Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas). “Today we must say thank you to those early Chinese Canadian pioneers who helped build this nation despite the hardships they were forced to face, such as the Chinese Head Tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act.”

The Chinese Exclusion Act (1923-1947) replaced the Chinese Head Tax (1885-1923) and prohibited Chinese immigration for more than a generation. Only a handful of Chinese were allowed to enter Canada during this period which spanned the Great Depression and Second World War. The sons and daughters of the head tax payers were also directly affected by this legislation and experienced poverty, racism, family separation and lost educational opportunities.

“While commemorating the repealing of the Chinese Exclusion Act, let us also remember that it took the Canadian government 122 years to apologize for the discriminatory Chinese Head tax and issue redress to those who were subjected to it,” said NDP MP Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina).

“However, redress is incomplete as many head tax payers died while waiting for an apology and redress which is why families deserve compensation,” said Chow. “While celebrating this day let us also remember the quest for justice is not over yet.”

“The first Chinese immigrants arrived in Canada in 1858 and their achievements have included building the national railway, serving in two world wars and many major contributions to the economy and the arts,” said Libby Davies (Vancouver East). “As we celebrate Asian Heritage Month, we are taking time to reflect on the significant victories of the Chinese community in Canada.”