For many decades, Chinese Canadians in British Columbia endured hardship and legislated discrimination.
A new book published by the provincial government aims to share this important story to help redress the historic wrong. Celebration: Chinese Canadian Legacies in British Columbia acknowledges the painful history and celebrates the contributions of Chinese Canadians to the province's growth and success.
The celebration book profiles 96 British Columbians of Chinese descent. Entrepreneurs, philanthropists, politicians, medical researchers, athletes, artists, community allies and more are featured. Through their personal stories, the book highlights the many ways that the Chinese community has contributed to, and helped shape, the landscape of British Columbia, from early settler days until the present.
“Celebration: Chinese Canadian Legacies in British Columbia recognizes and celebrates the extraordinary achievements of Chinese Canadians in British Columbia,” said Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism. “This book delivers an important narrative about our collective history that must be told. It is a valuable source for all British Columbians to learn more about the contributions of Chinese Canadians, and reminds us of our commitment to ensure that legislated discriminatory practices, and other inequitable practices, never happen again in B.C.”
The richly illustrated publication is a production of the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council, established by the provincial government in 2014. The book is one of several legacy projects commemorating the provincial government's formal apology for historical wrongs to Chinese Canadians on May 15, 2014.
“I am proud of the work we’ve achieved to recognize and celebrate the struggle of the Chinese community in B.C. against the discrimination they faced, and how in their struggles they forced British Columbia to be a more inclusive society,” said Henry Yu, co-chair of the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council. “We’re very pleased these stories will be shared with all British Columbians as an acknowledgement of the past, and hope they will contribute to strengthen British Columbia’s diverse society.”
More than 125 notable members of B.C.'s Chinese-Canadian community gathered on May 11, 2018, at a special event marking the publication, including a number of surviving family members of early Chinese settlers to B.C.
Celebration: Chinese Canadian Legacies in British Columbia will be provided to schools, cultural centres and libraries throughout the province later this year, and will be available to the public in digital format.
- The genesis of the legacy book came from seven public consultation forums throughout the province, where participants identified issues surrounding historic discriminatory legislation, and its impact on the Chinese community in B.C.
- Celebration: Chinese Canadian Legacies in British Columbia is a compilation of poignant stories and historic visual elements. It includes messages from:
- John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia;
- Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture; and
- Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism.
- It includes information about the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council (LIAC ) and its members.
- The LIAC guided the government’s implementation of recommendations in the Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation Final Report.
- 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 legacy project implementation.
- In 1788, the first Chinese workers to come to British Columbia landed in Nuu-chah-nulth territory (Nootka Sound). They were part of Capt. John Meares’ expedition to build the first year-round, non-Indigenous settlement.
- Today British Columbia is home to more than 460,000 Chinese Canadians, 11% of B.C.’s population.
Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation Final Report and Recommendations:
May 2014 apology to Chinese Canadians: