OTTAWA, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Canadian senators Victor Oh and Yuen Pau Woo Thursday called attention to the injustice committed against early Chinese Canadians and contemporary prejudices.
Holding a press conference in Ottawa, the two senators announced a national remembrance ceremony on June 23 to mark the 100th Anniversary of the introduction of the Chinese Immigration Act, 1923.
The act, also known as the "Chinese Exclusion Act," was a Canadian Act of Parliament passed in 1923 banning most forms of Chinese immigration to Canada.
"This ceremony presents an opportunity to recognize the injustice committed against early Chinese Canadians, while increasing Canadians' knowledge of our shared history, while celebrating the many accomplishments of our community over the past 100 years," Oh said at the press conference.
Woo gave some background on the importance of the event, saying: "The act was the culmination of a series of racist laws passed by the Government of Canada as early as 1885." He explained why he felt it appropriate for the ceremony to be held in the Senate.
Stressing the importance of the Senate of Canada to take the lead in remembering the 100th anniversary, Woo wrote in his social media that "the event will recall a dark period in our history. It's an occasion to recognize the longstanding relationship between Chinese and Indigenous peoples, enhance belonging, and call attention to contemporary prejudices."
Action! Chinese Canadians Together (ACCT) Chair Teresa Woo-Paw, whose own family was affected at the time by those historic events, spoke about the effects of the Chinese Exclusion Act on Chinese-Canadians living in Canada.
"Their existence in Canada during this time period was one of enduring heightened racial stereotyping and individual and institutional racism. An example of the latter is the Dominion Election Act of 1920 which denied the Chinese in Canada and many other racialized minorities, the right to run for the Canadian Parliament," she said.
The event will be held in the Senate of Canada Chamber and will be attended by members of the Chinese community from across the country, as well as Members of Parliament, senators, and other dignitaries.
A proposal has been submitted to the Government of Canada for the commissioning of a commemorative plaque to mark the 100th anniversary. Specially prepared performances will take place and be live streamed to mark the occasion.
The senators also announced the launch of a website that serves as a non-partisan hub for groups across the country to post information about events and activities related to the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
According to Canadian Museum of Immigration, the act virtually restricted all Chinese immigration to Canada by narrowly defining the acceptable categories of Chinese immigrants. It is estimated that only 15 Chinese immigrants gained entry into Canada between 1923 and 1946. The act was repealed in 1947. ■