The Chinese Canadian community in British Columbia suffered legislated inequality by past provincial governments from 1871 (when British Columbia joined Confederation) to 1947 when the federal Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed and Chinese Canadians were given the right to vote in provincial elections.
Between November 2013 and January 2014, the Ministry of International Trade and Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism conducted an extensive public consultation process eventually leading to a formal apology from the British Columbia legislative assembly for historic wrongs against B.C.’s Chinese Canadian community.
The consultation process was intended to:
- Seek input from community associations and individuals who were directly and indirectly impacted by historical discriminatory legislation.
- Engage local representatives from a number of Chinese Canadian communities to confirm consultation locations and receptivity.
- Conduct focused consultations seeking comment, suggestions and advice regarding the wording and delivery of an apology from the legislature.
- October 29, 2013: Consultation process announced.
- November 17, 2013 – January 27, 2014: Seven public consultation forums held in Victoria, Kamloops, Vancouver, Kelowna, Burnaby, Prince George and Richmond.
- May 15, 2014: Historic apology at the B.C. legislature.
- May 15, 2014 – March 31, 2017: Implementation of Chinese Legacy B.C. projects.
Approximately 1,329 people attended the 7 public consultation forums. Forum participants included: family and clan associations, merchants’ associations, educators, veterans, academics, Freemasons, community service providers, students and youth, community elders, staff and volunteers from large community associations and the general public.
The consultation resulted in over 80 written submissions and advice provided directly to the Minister by 158 self-nominated public speakers at the forums, many of whom were community leaders speaking on behalf of thousands of association members. For written submissions and verbal speeches, please see here.
Based on the information gathered, the historical context was summarized and a series of recommendations were prepared. A list of the recommended legacy initiatives is outlined in the Chinese Historical Wrongs Consultation Final Report and Recommendations.
Input leads to action:
On May 15, 2014, Premier Christy Clark apologized on behalf of a unanimous British Columbia legislature for the historical wrongs imposed on Chinese Canadians by past provincial governments and tasked the Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism with implementing the recommendations contained in the Final Report and Recommendations. On the day of the apology, the B.C. government announced funding of $1 million to support the Chinese Legacy B.C. projects recommended in the report. Government continues to work to bring these projects to life.
Achievements to date include:
- Bamboo Shoots: Chinese Canadian Legacies in B.C. , a provincial curriculum supplement currently being used in B.C. classrooms to educate school children about historical wrongs committed against Chinese Canadians in British Columbia.
- An interactive map identifying 77 publicly nominated sites of historical significance to Chinese Canadians and British Columbia. Twenty-one of the sites have been recognized by the Province.
- The Royal BC Museum exhibits and displays celebrating early Chinese Canadian mining pioneers in British Columbia. Exhibits and displays have been viewed by thousands in Victoria, China and the Museum of Modern Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec.
- May 15, 2014 |B.C. legislature officially apologizes to Chinese Canadians for historical wrongs
- September 10, 2014 |Historical wrongs legacy process moves forward
- September 29, 2014 |Province maps draft plans for legacy projects
- October 24, 2014| News Release: Another step taken to right historical wrongs
- January 22, 2015 |Province seeks nominations for Chinese historical sites
- April 30, 2015 |Inventory pilot demonstrates scope of Chinese Canadian history
- May 12, 2015 |Gold Rush! El Dorado in BC opens at Royal BC Museum
- May 15, 2015 |Chinese Canadian history takes its place on British Columbia’s map
- June 12, 2015 |Exploring Cumberland’s vibrant Chinese historical legacy
- August 12, 2015 |Film funding adds new lens to First Nations and Chinese Canadian history
- August 20, 2015 |Funding will support Vancouver Chinatown seniors housing feasibility study
- September 11, 2015 |New lesson plans shed light on B.C.’s dark past
- September 22, 2015 |B.C. helps to right historical wrongs with new curriculum addition
- October 9, 2015 |New report guides heritage assessment of remote B.C. mining sites
- October 28, 2015 |For the first time, the Royal BC Museum opens an exhibition in a Chinese metro station
- October 29, 2015 |The Royal BC Museum publishes two web articles about the history of the Chinese in B.C.
- November 5, 2015 |Royal British Columbia Museum opens major new exhibition in China
- January 29, 2016 |Chinese Canadian historic places receive provincial recognition
- March 12, 2016 |Gold Mountain Dream! exhibition opens at Chinese Cultural Centre Museum
- April 13, 2016 |Royal BC Museum investigates Chinese Canadian history through a Curious lens
- June 2, 2016 | Chinese Legacy BC curriculum resource wins prestigious national award
- July 6, 2016 | Chinese Canadian artifact inventory makes history with online database
- December 3, 2016 | Commemorative monument honours Chinese-Canadian pioneers
These are the legacy projects scheduled for completion in the 2016/2017 fiscal year.
- Historical Site Recognition and Artifact Inventory
- Chinese in B.C. Celebration Book
- Provincial Clan Association Building Inventory and Housing Needs Assessments for Victoria and Vancouver Chinatowns
- Regional Commemorative Plaques
- Review of Discriminatory Legislation
For updates please visit the Legacy Projects site.