Vancouver Chinese head-tax payer Charlie Quan dies at age 105

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      One of Canada's last living head-tax payers, who survived years of hardship in Canada, died peacefully on February 23. He was 105 years old.

      Charlie Sang Now Quan was born in Hoyping, China, on February 15, 1907. He paid the $500 Chinese head tax in 1923 when he came to Canada (the tax had skyrocketed from $50 in 1885 to $100 in 1900, and to $500 in 1903).

      The Chinese Exclusion Act later banned all Chinese immigration to Canada from 1923 to 1947. Consequently, Quan was separated from his wife and children, and was not reunited with them until 1950.

      In 2006, the Canadian government issued an official apology and compensation. Survivors and spouses were paid $20,000.

      Quan, an honourary member of the Head Tax Families Society of Canada, was among the first recipients to receive head tax-redress cheques when Oda presented him with the payment in Vancouver on October 20, 2006.

      In December 2006, Quan celebrated receiving the compensation with a feast. He told the Georgia Straight that he drew strength and hope from Kuan Kung, a deity representing justice and righteousness, to continue pressuring the government.

      He had previously told the Straight that he disagreed with a bill proposed by federal Conservative MP Bev Oda in 2004, which offered an apology but no compensation.

      Quan is survived by two sons, a daughter-in-law, six grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

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