British Columbia’s first-ever computerized inventory of Chinese historical records and artifacts is now complete, giving easy access to anyone interested in learning more about the rich cultural history of Chinese Canadians in B.C.
“B.C.’s first-ever Chinese Canadian artifact database gives British Columbians an opportunity to learn more about the many contributions of Chinese Canadians to the history of British Columbia,” said Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism. “Each artifact tells a unique story of how Chinese Canadians helped shaped the province, and by giving these artifacts a home on University of Victoria’s database, it exposes British Columbians to a history that many didn’t know existed.”
The Chinese Canadian Artifacts Project (CCAP), which is one of eight Chinese legacy projects, contains more than 6,000 culturally significant artifacts from 16 museums throughout the province. Some of these artifacts include Chinese coins, scrolls, photographs and historic texts.
The online database was compiled by researchers at the University of Victoria (UVic) in partnership with the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council (LIAC) and the B.C. Museums Association and is being hosted online by UVic libraries. The B.C. government provided $84,000 in funding through the Chinese Legacy Initiative for the project.
“Tomorrow evening, we will officially unveil the completed Chinese Canadian Artifacts Project, to be available online to everyone,” says CCAP principal investigator John Price, professor, department of history, UVic. “We now have a digitized database of more than 6,000 Chinese Canadian artifacts held by museums in this province for use across the country and beyond. As my colleague, UVic historian and CCAP research director Dr. Zhongping Chen has pointed out, these objects ‘scattered in dozens of smaller towns and cities will now be accessible to everyone. It is an incredible resource and rich treasure chest of true historical significance.”
“Small museums in our province have an abundance of artifacts that most people don’t know about,” said BC Museums Association president David Alexander. “The BC Museums Association and member museums worked collaboratively with government and the University of Victoria, sharing expertise and mobilizing resources to develop an online digital archive that is widely and easily accessible. This project provides a case study of how museums, academic institutions, and funding agencies can come together to engage with diverse communities.”
“This has been an outstanding project,” said Ed Coleman, chief executive officer of Barkerville Historic Town. “Barkerville has the largest collection of historic Chinese artifacts and documents in Western North America. Putting the items online and providing access promotes research and deepens the understanding about British Columbia and Chinese Canadian history.”
In May 2014, a formal apology was delivered on behalf of all members of the B.C. legislative assembly to Chinese Canadians for historical wrongs committed by past provincial governments. A consultation report was released at the same time that outlined eight legacy projects, which included a recommendation to identify historical and culturally important artifacts and locations.
The LIAC was created by government to assist with the legacy projects. It works with Chinese Canadian communities and other key partners to advise government on project implementation and to ensure that the projects are known and communicated throughout the province.
- In 1788, the first Chinese workers to come to British Columbia landed in Nuu-chah-nulth territory (Nootka Sound). They were part of Captain John Meares’ expedition to build the first year-round, non-indigenous settlement.
- Today, B.C. is home to more than 460,000 Chinese Canadians, 11% of B.C.’s population.
- The B.C. government’s implementation of recommendations in the Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation Final Report is guided with advice from the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council.
To check out the Chinese Canadian Artifacts Project, visit: https://ccap.uvic.ca/
For more information about the legacy projects and the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/multiculturalism-anti-racism/chinese-legacy-bc
View the Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation Final Report and Recommendations: www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/downloads/Chinese_Consultation.pdf