A commemorative monument unveiled today in Kelowna recognizes the contributions of Chinese-Canadians to B.C.’s rich cultural, historical and economic mosaic.
A large granite monument has been installed within the pioneer section of the Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery to reflect the 2014 apology delivered on behalf of the B.C. legislative assembly to Chinese-Canadians for historical wrongs committed by past provincial governments.
The monument is the first in a series of up to 15 markers – interpretive signs, plaques and monuments – that will be established in communities throughout British Columbia in coming months. Locations were recommended by the provincial Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council (LIAC), which provides advice to government on B.C.-Chinese legacy projects. Government is providing $100,000 in Chinese legacy funding for the provincial monuments project.
As one of several provincial Chinese legacy projects completed or currently underway, the commemorative monuments project resulted from a report on the Chinese historical wrongs consultations. The report includes a recommendation for one or more regional plaques or monuments to be created to commemorate the positive contributions of Chinese-Canadians to B.C.’s history, culture and prosperity.
Extensive provincial consultation with British Columbia’s Chinese-Canadian community, including a community forum held in Kelowna in January 2014, led to the decision to erect this monument; government heard from local community members who were directly and indirectly impacted by historical discriminatory legislation.
The Kelowna monument was created in consultation with the community, and in particular, the Kelowna Freemasons. The monument project responds to the B.C. government’s commitment to create a Chinese legacy for all British Columbians.
Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism –
“Kelowna’s commemorative monument beautifully preserves the apology made in the legislature for historic wrongs committed against Chinese-Canadians by past provincial governments. It also signifies the important role B.C.’s Chinese community has played in shaping British Columbia into the great province it is today.”
Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country –
“This event is in recognition of the Chinese-Canadian pioneers who helped to shape Kelowna, even though during the building of the railway and for years afterward they were subjected to unacceptable racist policies. Today, this monument ensures that everyone who sees it and reads the inscription knows that racism and discrimination will not be tolerated in B.C. and more so, that Kelowna recognizes and values its Chinese Canadian community.”
Shui Lee, chair, Kelowna Freemasons and LIAC Member –
“Many of the Chinese-Canadians being remembered today were victims of racist laws and policies that permanently separated them from their families in China – my great grandfather was one of them. This monument honours their memories and their sacrifices and stands as a permanent reminder of their contributions to Kelowna and to B.C.”
- 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.
- Government’s implementation of recommendations in the Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation Final Report is guided with advice from the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council (LIAC)
- The LIAC was created by government to assist with the Chinese 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.
For more information about the Chinese legacy projects visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/multiculturalism-anti-racism/chinese-legacy-bc
Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation Final Report and Recommendations: http://ow.ly/h3YB306Lgpf