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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy Humiliation....Errr I mean-- Canada Day!

The Canadian Flag

Chinese Head Tax Certificate

Today many Canadians are celebrating Canada Day which commemorates the anniversary of July 1, 1867, the day that Canada officially became a country. Canada is now officially 142 years old. However for many Chinese-Canadians, today marks the 86th anniversary of what they call "Humiliation Day" which began on July 1, 1923 when the Canadian government implemented a discriminatory act called the Chinese Immigration Act. This act was implemented in order to put a stop to Chinese immigration except under special circumstances. The Chinese Immigration Act was a replacement for the Chinese head tax implemented on Chinese immigrants from 1885 to 1923. The Chinese also consider the Chinese Immigration Act the "Chinese Exclusion Act" because as a result of the act, it had separated many Chinese immigrants from their families. These racist laws were abolished in 1947 and it was 59 years later in 2006, that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper publicly apologized to the Chinese community for the racist laws and issued a compensation of $20,000 CDN to any remaining survivors or spouses. According to the Head Tax Families Society of Canada (HTFSC), only 500 surviving Chinese that paid the Chinese head tax were compensated. That is quite a minuscule amount compared to the whopping number of 80,000 Chinese immigrants that paid the head tax in the years 1885 to 1923. Many of the first-generation sons and daughters who were direct victims of the Chinese head tax, did not receive any compensation simply because their fathers and/or mothers did not live up to 2006. They are still actively seeking compensation to this day.