B.C. NDP releases record of discriminatory laws against Chinese community
Public education about a history of discriminatory laws against Chinese Canadians in B.C. should be part of a reconciliation process with the community, according to B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix.
Dix, along with NDP MLAs Jenny Kwan and Bruce Ralston, released a record of the B.C. legislation during a news conference today, and called for the information to be included as part of a reconciliation process in follow up to an official apology to B.C.’s Chinese community.
“What we have here is simply a mountain of legislation that was also passed by the B.C. legislature that reflected the view at the time…that B.C. should be a white man’s province, and that Canada should be a white man’s country,” said Dix.
“So what we have are 89 specific laws in this binder here, 89 laws, 49 motions, seven reports, two authorizations for spending, multiple efforts to pass more, questions in the legislature and so on. A legislative record that reflects the racism of that time.”
Dix added part of the NDP’s effort will be to make the information public to young people and schools. The information has been posted online, and the party is planning a summit for youth at the Wosk Centre of Dialogue during the first week of February.
“We’re going to work with young people in schools around British Columbia so that young people’s ideas about the apology and about reconciliation that could occur-a legacy that can occur from that apology-can be heard,” he said.
“That would expand I think significantly, in an appropriate way, the efforts of the government to engage primarily with the Chinese-Canadian community and groups on these issues.”
Kwan called an apology without a reconciliation process “insufficient”.
“What we want to do is to make sure a process for reconciliation is put in place,” she said. “We start off with ensuring that people, including the Government of British Columbia, understand what it is that we’re apologizing for.”
Dix said the discriminatory laws, ranging from 1872 to 1938, related to issues including the right to vote, the right to work in certain workplaces, economic rights, and immigration.
Kwan noted that other discriminatory practices took place in B.C. that were not documented by way of legislation.
“I give you as an example: Chinese children, at a point in history in British Columbia, were segregated,” she said. “Why? Simply because they were Chinese.”
The B.C. government is expected to issue a formal apology for historical wrongs to Chinese Canadians.
In October, B.C.’s minister responsible for multiculturalism, Teresa Wat, said she would “engage with Chinese community associations and citizens to identify formal wording for an apology”.
The minister is holding a series of consultation forums on the issue, including one in Vancouver on January 12.