Vancouver council to apologize for historical discrimination against Chinese

Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier, MARCH 22, 2018

City council will hold a special meeting April 22 in Chinatown to make a formal apology to Chinese people for the legislated discrimination enacted decades ago by previous city councils.

The event at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver comes after the 11-member council agreed unanimously in November 2017 to hold a ceremony to condemn the racist policies of city leaders in power between 1886 and 1947.

Banning voting rights, not allowing Chinese people to run for public office and lobbying for a head tax were among such policies. Read more…

Vancouver city council has set April 22 as the date it will formally apologize to the Chinese community for previous councils’ legislated discrimination against Chinese people. Photo City of Vancouver Archives Bu N158.2

City of Vancouver formally apologizes to Chinese community for past discrimination

Chad Pawson, CBC News, Apr 22, 2018

The City of Vancouver formally apologized to Chinese Canadians on Sunday for past legislation, regulations and policies that discriminated against them.
“This is an important day for council and all Vancouverites to come together and recognize historical wrongdoings committed against Chinese people and to build a better future together,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a written statement.
An audience of 500 people witnessed the ceremony at the Chinese Cultural Centre, which was also broadcast on a screen along Keefer Street in the city’s Chinatown. Read more…

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson along with city councillors pose with the official apology offered to redress historical discrimination against Chinese residents. (City of Vancouver/Twitter)

Strathcona Saved!

The Vancouver Historical Society had a full house of more than 120 when Shirley Chan spoke to the audience about her late mother, Mary Lee Chan, who was in the forefront of one of the most important movements in Vancouver’s history, the fight to save the Strathcona neighborhood.

That struggle would change forever the way Vancouver city hall dealt with its citizens.

It began in 1959 with the announcement that great swaths of Strathcona houses (described as a “blight” on the cityscape) would be demolished to make way for new apartment buildings and a freeway connector. The residents of those houses—the majority of them Chinese—would be able to move to a new development near Boundary Road and the Lougheed Highway. Read more…

Mary Lee Chan’s heroic fight helped make Vancouver what it is

Amy Huva, Oct 3rd, 2013

Shirley Chan’s mom Mary Lee Chan knew everyone in her Strathcona neighbourhood in 1968 when the plan to build a freeway through the middle of downtown Vancouver was set to go ahead. She was a local force to be reckoned with who negotiated to help find work for residents when they were struggling for employment and never took ‘no’ for an answer.

Mary Lee’s husband Walter Chan was respected and knowledgeable and wrote for the local Chinese language newspapers. Together they made a formidable team and led the charge to stop the freeway that would have demolished Strathcona and would run around Coal Harbour, ruining some of what is now the most valuable waterfront real estate in the city. Read more…

Photo of Mary Lee Chan’s daughter Shirley Chan by Amy Huva

Chinese New Year parade gets new leader of dancing group

JOANNE LEE-YOUNG, February 15, 2018

There is a mini-brouhaha about who gets the coveted honour of leading the dancing group in the Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown.

In recent years, the Hon Hsing Athletic Club, which was started on Pender Street in 1939, has been at the helm. This weekend, it’ll be a team from the Teo Chew Society of Vancouver, that was established in 1987 on Hastings Street.

There are definitely many gossipy views circulating. One is the diplomatic version with different teams taking turns. Others include a heated meeting, a secret ballot and the influence of backers. Read more…

Lion Dancers Michael Tan (right) and his master Peter Wong in Vancouver, BC, February 15, 2018. ARLEN REDEKOP / PNG

Patti Bacchus: Renaming Crosstown elementary a chance for Vancouver School Board to do the right thing

Patti Bacchus on January 25th, 2018

Crosstown is a fine name for a bus route or a low-rent strip mall, or perhaps a condo complex built on formerly vacant suburban land. But it’s a bland and meaningless moniker for a school built on the edge of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown, in a vibrant urban community with a rich and fascinating history.

It’s a gentrification name that obliterates the past in a misguided gesture toward a shiny new future—a rebranding that paves over the lives, contributions, and tribulations of those who came before. A building that’s dedicated to the education of present and future generations of Vancouver children deserves something better. Read more…

Growing Up Chinese Canadian: A Century of Stories

By Christopher Cheung, Jul 3 2017 | TheTyee.ca

“You’re so Asian!”
“You’re so white-washed!”
Natalie Poon remembers hearing this a lot in her Chinese Canadian peer group when she started high school a decade ago in Richmond, a city bordering Vancouver. Whether you find this language funny or offensive, Poon and her peers consider it an easy way to talk about cultural differences. “That’s just how we talked,” she said. “It’s not meant to be discriminatory.” Read more…

Natalie Poon, age 4, practising her alphabet on one of many plane rides she took during her childhood between Richmond and Hong Kong. Photo by Christopher Cheung.

Canada 150: Yip Sang, the unofficial mayor of Chinatown

JOHN MACKIE, Vancouver Sun, June 13, 2017

You can’t overstate Yip Sang’s importance to Vancouver’s Chinatown. Working as the superintendent for the Kwong On Wo company in the 1880s, he imported 6,000 to 7,000 Chinese labourers to work on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Yip Sang held several positions: bookkeeper, timekeeper and paymaster. Legend has it he used to pay the Chinese CPR workers by riding his horse to the Chinese campsites carrying a sack of money, and a gun, just in case. Read more…

A 1916 photo of Yip Sang, middle, with some of his 24 children and grandchildren. HANDOUT

New plaque commemorates Vancouver Chinatown’s significance in immigrant history

POSTMEDIA NEWS, May 13, 2017

A new plaque unveiled in Vancouver’s Chinatown Saturday commemorates the national historic significance of the Chinese neighbourhood and the role it played in welcoming immigrants who arrived in Canada. Nellie Yip Quong and Wong Foon Sien were also both recognized as key figures in Vancouver’s Chinese history. Saturday’s event featured a lion dance and other cultural performances, and a presentation by North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson. Read more…

Imogene Lim and Mayor Gregor Robertson help unveil a plaque honouring Nellie Yip Quong as a person of the national historic significance in Vancouver’s Chinatown, on May 13. GERRY KAHRMANN / PNG