Premier Clark apologizes for B.C.’s historical wrongs against Chinese immigrants

A reminder of the power of an apology (without admitting legal liability) for the Chinese Canadian community in healing old wounds:

Shui Lee endured decades of intolerance and racism in Canada just because he is Chinese, but on Thursday the 58-year-old restaurant owner said he is finally proud to be both Canadian and Chinese.

With tears in his eyes and holding the 1914 head-tax document belonging to his great, great grandfather, Lee described what British Columbia’s formal apology for racist and discriminatory government policies against Chinese immigrants means to him.

“When I walk out this door today, I feel so proud that I can put my head up and I tell everybody I’m proud to be Canadian,” he said. “I can be proud to be Chinese.”

Lee, a Kelowna, B.C., restaurant owner, said he often argued with friends, relatives and others about what he considered Canada’s racist and intolerant laws and policies towards Chinese immigrants, but was told not to rock the boat.

“They don’t want to apologize to you,” he said he was told. “But I prove it today, they are wrong. The government did apologize to us. And they admit they were wrong.”

Much like the federal government’s Chinese Head Tax ex gratis payments and historical recognition program, or PM Harper’s apology to First Nations for residential schools, recognition of the past helps reconciliation in the present and future. While challenging to governments, particularly which communities are recognized and which not, the old hard-line approach of earlier Liberal governments that we do not apologize for what happened in the past does not address this need.

Of course, the more organized the community, the better the chance for some form of historical recognition. Democracy in action.

Clark apologizes for B.C.’s historical wrongs against Chinese immigrants – The Globe and Mail.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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