“Dad, all your life you have fought for our rights. Year after year, you kept up with your peaceful struggle and tried your best to integrate into the Canadian society. Now, finally, here we are, on our way to Ottawa, on the same tracks grandpa built. The government is at last going to apologize for the Chinese Head Tax. Your dream is coming true!”
On June 22nd 2006, newly-elected Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Stephen Harper finally offered an official apology in Cantonese and pronounced a symbolic compensation package to the Chinese Canadian community during a Parliamentary session.
Individual compensations of $20 000 would be granted to surviving payers of the tax or to their spouses. At that moment, the dark memory that had hovered over Chinese Canadians for decades had vanished. Humiliation Day had been relegated to the dustbin of history.
NOTE: Use PM’s apology clip, especially “Canada apologizes…” in Chinese.
Wong Junior’s son and grandson sat side by side on the train.
The grandson asked: “Daddy, why were there discriminations against Chinese Canadians? And why did they have to fight for more than a century to have today’s redress? It’s not as if the Chinese are second-class citizens…”
“My child, we were not the only people who were treated this way. People often discriminate others out of ignorance or fear of the unknown, whether it’s due to their skin colour, their race, or their religion. And in economically hard times, people become particularly prejudiced against minority groups. That’s why we should always stay vigilant!”
“First Nations people suffered a great number of prejudices and discrimination. Think of the residential school system, which separated children from their parents, which they had to endure.
In 1914, passengers arriving from India on board the Komagata Maru were banned from landing… Then there were the Ukrainians and the Russians … At the same time, the Japanese Canadians had their properties confiscated as they were relocated to internment camps during WWII. There was also a ship, the St Louis, carrying almost 1,000 Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi Europe who were denied entry to Canada.”
“As of today, we are all truly Canadians. Our own early misfortunes and sufferings give us a lesson: which is to never allow this kind of things to happen in Canada. This is the true Canadian spirit.
“This blessed land has witnessed many outstanding humans… but there are also many more unsung heroes who, in their quest for freedom and equality for all, have fearlessly voiced their opinions and acted on their principles.”
“As Canadians, we have to remain ever so vigilant; we have to be constantly working and improving our society.”