How much do you know about Chinese North American history? How much were you taught in school?
For the majority of Canadians, the answer is very little, if at all.
Edmonton filmmaker Kenda Gee, accompanied by his father, traced his family's history back to China. He recorded his journey in the two-part documentary series Lost Years: A People's Struggle for Justice (codirected by Tom Radford).
But that's not all. Along the way, he chronicles 150 years of the history of the Chinese diaspora in Canada, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, based on 12 years of research.
Not only are there details about the Chinese Head Tax and the struggle for redress in Canada, but the film also illuminates how Chinese Australians are requesting an apology from the government for discriminatory immigration policies.
The miniseries also highlights lesser-known but significant historical figures, such as Calgary's Larry Kwong, the first NHL player of colour; Gim Wong, a Royal Canadian Air Force officer who fought for Canada in the Second World War; Emmy Mah, one of the first Chinese nurses in Western Canada; Normie Kwong, national sports icon and former Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta; May Chiu, a Montreal legal activist who ran against former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin. There are also familiar Vancouver faces, including Fairchild Radio's Hanson Lau, activists Sid Chow Tan and Sean Gunn, and more.
The first episode ("The Loh Wah Kiu") will be broadcast nationally on CBC (in B.C. at 9 a.m.) on Saturday (February 18).
Here's a clip from the film.
You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig.