Canada marks anniversary of repeal of anti-Chinese immigrant law
Ottawa, May 15 (Xinhua-ANI): The Canadian government has marked the 65th anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act, which the Chinese-Canadian community has considered to be a racist legislation.
Canada's Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism hosted a reception commemorating the day.
"This was unworthy of our country," Jason Kenney, who heads the ministry, said of the anti-Chinese law, introduced in 1923 to prevent Chinese immigrants from entering the North American country.
Thanks to the service of Chinese-Canadians such as Douglas Jung, a Second World War veteran who later became the first legislator of Chinese origin, the Canadian government repealed the law on May 14, 1947 and restored Chinese-Canadians' right to vote, he said.
Returning evil for the contribution of more than 15,000 young Chinese men who helped build the Canadian Pacific Railway, Canada imposed in 1885 a 50-Canadian-dollar head tax on every Chinese immigrant who wanted to stay in the country.
By 1903, the head tax was raised to 500 Canadian dollars, a fee that didn't apply to any other minority.
Over 38 years before the Chinese Immigration Act, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, was enacted, Canada had collected 23 million Canadian dollars in head tax revenues from an estimated 81,000 Chinese immigrants.
The tax was abolished in 1923, when Parliament passed what the Canadian government now calls the "unjust" Chinese Immigration Act.
In 2006, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology to the Chinese-Canadian community for the law and the previous head tax, and a symbolic 20,000 Canadian dollars were paid to 785 survivors or spouses of head-tax payers.
"Chinese families endured long periods of separation due to the legislation. Education opportunities were lost and the community stagnated," said Victor Wong, executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council.
Robert Yip, whose uncle Kew Dock Yip was the first Chinese-Canadian lawyer and also helped to repeal the law, said the anniversary was not just a reminder of "a sad and difficult chapter" in Chinese-Canadian history, but also "an important victory that was more than symbolic."
"It brought about the rebirth of the community," Yip told reporters at the reception. (Xinhua-ANI)
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