Brandon University Professor Involved in Project to Recognize Manitoba’s Significant Chinese History

May 5, 2011 | Corporate Member News

The Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre has joined a $1.2M Chinese Canadian Historical Recognition project. Funded by the Community Historical Recognition grant, the project is headed by the University of British Columbia. Project Managers for the Manitoba Chinese Canadian research program will be Brandon University’s Dr. Alison Marshall and the University of Manitoba’s Dr. Tina Chen. The program has been launched to research and document Manitoba’s significant Chinese history and make it accessible in a Canada-wide collection.

Marshall and Chen will be collecting individual oral histories, photographs and documents is part of the larger project of witnessing and remembering –cornerstones for the establishment, protection and expansion of Human Rights. This research program seeks to deepen the research base on Chinese Canadian history for scholars, community groups and organizations and preserve a record of everyday life, early political organizing, and the challenges posed by Head Tax legislation in order to understand how Chinese Canadians have built their lives, resisted discrimination and responded to challenge and crisis.  

Dr. Alison Marshall

“Chinese Canadians have been coming to Manitoba since 1877, and for 38 of these years they have paid between 50 and 500 dollars in Head Tax. This amounts to a total of over $270,000. After 1947 and the repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act, wives and children denied entry to Canada since 1923, were reunited with husbands and fathers, most of whom were now elderly strangers. While the 2006 Head Tax Redress enabled Chinese Canadians to receive financial compensation for this unfair treatment and exclusion, The Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre Canadian Historical Recognition Project enables Manitoban Chinese to share their remarkable stories of resilience and success,” said Dr. Alison Marshall, Co-Project Manager.  

Male and female English, Cantonese, Toisanese and Mandarin speaking research participants who came to Canada before 1965 are required for the project. Material collected will be placed on a national bilingual web-site housed at the University of British Columbia. Research participants will be paid $25 once all consent and copyright forms have been signed and the material has been uploaded to the UBC site. Potential research participants are asked to send their contact information to Drs. Marshall and Chen to [email protected].  

“This is a very special project for the Chinese community of Canada as well as for all Canadian citizens. These stories need to be shared and documented. This was a blight on Canada’s human rights history. We are pleased to have Drs. Marshall and Chen compile these stories to help ensure such discrimination will never happen again,” said Dr. Joseph Du, President of the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre.  

The Chinese Immigration Act was enacted by the Government of Canada in 1885. This act imposed a $50 head tax that was required to be paid by all Chinese immigrants upon entry to Canada. By 1903 the Head Tax had been raised to $500. In 1923, the Canadian Parliament passed another Chinese Immigration Act. This Act imposed even more restrictions on Chinese immigration to Canada. It banned Chinese immigrants from entering Canada (with the exception of merchants, diplomats, students, and those granted ‘special circumstances’ by the Minister of Immigration). Within the Chinese Canadian community, the original Chinese Immigration Act and the subsequent Acts are often collectively referred to as the Chinese Exclusion Act. The Chinese Immigration Act was repealed in 1947. In June 2006, the Federal Government of Canada apologized for forcing Chinese Immigrants to pay a head tax upon entry to Canada, and financial compensation was made.  

The Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre is a not-for-profit organization run by the community. From 200 inhabitants in the early part of the last century, to its 20,000 current Winnipeg residents, the Chinese-Canadian community is an important part of the city’s ethnic landscape. An active group, the WCCCC presents many events to raise cultural awareness to Manitoba.  

For more information, please contact:  

Malinda Lee, Public Relations Telephone: (204) 228-7892 Email: [email protected]  

Kevin Fan, Events Telephone: (204) 943-2627 Email: [email protected]

Brandon University

Since 1899, Brandon University has grown into a nationally respected institution. The University has built a tradition of excellence in scholarship, research and creative performance. BU students, who hail from all parts of Canada and beyond, enjoy small personal classes, have access to numerous grants and bursaries, and have hands-on opportunities traditionally afforded to graduates. Currently, the undergraduate degree programs available are in the Arts, Business, Education, Fine Arts, Music, Nursing, Psychiatric Nursing, Science and Applied Disaster Management — a unique offering in this country. As well, there are graduate programs in Education, Nursing and Rural Development. Most recently, a Psychiatric Nursing Master degree program — another first in Canada — was launched at BU. Among its many resources, BU boasts the largest and only publicly accessible telescope in Central Canada.                                             

For additional information, contact: 

Joanne F. Villeneuve
Communications Officer
Brandon University
[email protected]

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