Chinese British Columbians, leaders of the Yale First Nation and residents of Yale gathered for the unveiling of a special commemorative plaque honouring early Chinese settlers in the area.
George Chow, Minister of State for Trade, unveiled the plaque, which acknowledges the settlers’ struggles while enduring discriminatory laws.
“Early Chinese settlers experienced racism and severe hardship as they helped to build our province,” said Chow. “The plaque celebrates their strength in the face of adversity and ensures this chapter of B.C.’s past is not forgotten.”
The plaque commemorates the Province’s formal apology to Chinese Canadians in 2014 for historical wrongs committed by early B.C. governments. It was designed after extensive consultations with area residents.
“I am pleased the government is honouring the memories of Chinese Canadians this way and celebrating their contributions,” said Lily Chow, director of multiculturalism for the New Pathways to Gold Society. “Early settlers worked very hard to build new lives in B.C, and with effort and determination, many succeeded. One of these success stories is the historical On Lee Store in Yale, which is recognized as a Chinese-Canadian heritage site. The plaque and recognition as a historic site confirm the existence of the Chinese community in the history of Yale.”
Chinese settlers came to the region in the mid-1800s to take part in the Fraser Canyon gold rush and to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway. After completing work on the railway, some remained in the area, becoming merchants and pillars of the community.
Yale’s commemorative plaque is part of $1 million in legacy projects undertaken by the provincial government to celebrate the positive contributions of Chinese Canadians to B.C. The legacy projects fulfil recommendations from the Chinese Historical Wrongs Final Report.
- 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.
- The B.C. government has introduced a series of legacy projects to commemorate the recommendations in the Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation Final Report. The adoption of the recommendations, including legacy projects, was guided with advice from the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council.
- The other Chinese legacy commemorative monuments are located in:
- Ashcroft Chinese Cemetery
- Barkerville heritage park
- Cumberland Chinese Cemetery
- Kamloops Chinese Cemetery
- Kelowna Memorial Cemetery
- Victoria Chinatown
For more information about the Chinese legacy projects, visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/multiculturalism-anti-racism/chinese-legacy-bc
For more information about the Chinese Historical Wrongs Final Report and Recommendations, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/our-history/historic-places/documents/heritage/chinese-legacy/final_report_and_recommendations.pdf