Chinese Cultural Centre Reaches out to JC Community re: Apology to Chinese Canadians
The Chinese apology exercise currently in process began last March when news about the Liberal government’s controversial ethnic outreach strategy leaked out. The strategy suggested formal apologies in the legislature to ethnic communities for historic wrongs could result in quick wins at the ballot box.
Since then, a series of seven consultation meetings winding its way across BC communities starting in Victoria, Kamloops, Vancouver, Kelowna, Burnaby, Prince George and ending in Richmond on Jan. 27.
According to Teresa Wat, B.C.’s Minister in charge, input received at the consultations forums will guide the wording of a formal apology and in the next sitting of the legislature, the B.C. government plans to introduce a motion regarding the formal apology.
Chinese-Canadian advocates are calling on the B.C. government to repay $9 million in head taxes as a “symbolic” gesture as part of an apology to B.C.’s Chinese community. Sid Tan, a member of the Head Taxpayers committee, did not ask for return money to individuals but instead use it to fund legacy projects to be decided by the head-tax families.
Wat has said compensation is not part of the apology process. “It is a loud and clear the message that most speakers think the government should consider education legacy efforts, and we are here to listen.”
The Chinese Cultural Centre, championing education reform in the BC school’s core curriculum is calling upon the Provincial government of British Columbia to not only acknowledge past wrongdoings and seek reconciliation but to use the occasion to further the needs and aspirations of the multi-ethnic communities by requiring all future core curriculum and teaching texts in BC schools to adequately reflect the visible and cultural minorities that have a long history and legacy and contribution in the founding, development and prosperity of this province.
Two years ago, the provincial legislature passed a formal apology to Japanese Canadians. Naomi Yamamoto, the Liberal MLA for North Vancouver Lonsdale, moved the motion and it was passed unanimously. Two years has passed and no follow-up. There was no reconciliation and no lasting legacy. The latest Chinese Apology represents a new opportunity to re-enter the debate and demand for collective change.
Jim Wong Chu
Upon the current initiative by Minister Teresa Wat to meet with Chinese Canadians to seek input and draft the content of the province’s apology to Chinese Canadians, there has been focus upon legacy projects as Chinese Canadian groups consider what a meaningful apology would be. On Sunday, January 26, 2014, Grace Eiko Thomson, Ron Nishimura, Judy Hanazawa and Derek Iwanaka met with writer and representative of the Chinese Cultural Centre Jim Wong Chu. Jim is meeting with communities in light of the pending Apology, to seek intercommunity support for the Chinese Cultural Centre’s project to make sure the core BC curriculum includes multicultural history in social studies. i.e. history of migrant communities of colour, systemic racism, injustices, and discriminatory acts of the past, contributions from these communities. Seeking core curriculum change is important enough to many communities to stand on its own and it is critical to proceed with an initiative because the province is presently undergoing a curriculum review which could direct core curriculum for the next 5 years. As a community that benefited from the support of other communities during the Redress campaign Japanese Canadians need to stand with those who supported us during those struggles. At the meeting, we agreed information about this project should be shared so that any further meetings could include others in the Japanese Canadian community.
The following are Jim’s points.
1. The consensus within the Chinese community is that any legacy solution needs to right the wrong for all visible minorities – and not only Chinese Canadians.
2. The Chinese Cultural Centre, is reaching out and engaging other multi-ethnic communities to build support for this important initiative.
3. “ Today, B.C. is the most ethnically diverse province in Canada. Our province was built by immigrants and the Chinese community is a significant part of this legacy… Our government wants to engage in meaningful dialogue and I encourage all British Columbians to…participate”
4. The initiative aligns with Burnaby North Liberal MLA Richard Lee who stated: “what’s important is that all the wrongs be acknowledged and from there, plans should be developed to include this dark part of the province’s history in school curriculums and somehow preserve it in museums to educate the public and prevent history from repeating itself.” While the Chinese Cultural Centre applauds the important government Chinese apology initiative and feels that the need for an apology is important, words are not enough if they are not backed up with commitment and real change
5. For an apology to have great value and true legacy requires meaningful action that will last for generations
6. We have observed in the past that a large portion of reports of bullying and taunting are racially motivated. We are also wondering if the root causes of these social attitudes are because of the cultural differences between perpetrators and victims.
7. A pressing question that comes up in conversations among ethnic communities is why is there so little mention of visible minorities in the BC Curriculum? Why is the multicultural aspect of our province’s history, and contributions not recorded and taught in our school systems?
8. Perhaps education is an answer. It is in our schools, playgrounds and classrooms where information can be absorbed and cultural attitudes shaped. The propagation of ideas, social awareness and cultural harmony needs to begin at the earliest stages in our children‘s minds.
9. Unfound biases can only be diminished if it is part of our educational curriculum where young people are taught about the contributions and the multicultural nature of the society they are a part of.
10.Sincere acceptance of contrition requires an act of imagination to create a more inclusive future for all provincial citizens regardless of ancestral origins.
11. We are calling upon the Provincial government of British Columbia to not only acknowledge past wrongdoings and seek reconciliation but to use this important occasion to further the needs and aspirations of the multi-ethnic communities by requiring future curriculum and teaching texts in BC schools to adequately reflect the visible and cultural minorities that have a long history and legacy and contribution in the founding, development and prosperity of this province.
Readers interested in this initiative can contact the GVJCCA at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are maintaining contact with Jim Wong Chu on this matter.