Ironically, the Chinese Exclusion Act came into effect on July 1, 1923, a day of celebration for Canadians. At the time, it was called Dominion Day. Today we know it as Canada Day. As everyone else was celebrating on that day, the Chinese were suffering from loneliness and the separation from their families. It is no wonder that the Chinese referred to it as Humiliation Day.
July 1, Chinatown, Vancouver:
Old Wong: “Today is Dominion Day … a day of celebration for most Canadians…”
Old Chow: “But not for us! With this new Exclusion Act, my wife and my children have now no chance of joining me!”
Old Wong: “The Whites are enjoying the day with their families, while we are lonely and separated from our loved ones. This is truly a Day of Humiliation for us…”
Old Chow: “We have to stay away from all the ceremonies and celebrations ….”
Old Wong: “And close our shops, laundromats and restaurants, and withhold service!”
This was exactly what they did: they closed the doors and windows of their shops, to the big surprise and disappointment of their white customers.
The Chinese persevered in their long fight for equality until finally, in 1947, the Chinese Exclusion Act was at last abolished.