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"Oops, sorry, here’s some cash"

CBC News: Chinese descendants to receive compensation for head tax: “Ottawa is set to pay millions of dollars in compensation to descendants of Chinese workers who were charged a head tax to enter the country.
The government has agreed to acknowledge the tax was discriminatory and will pay $12.5 million into a new foundation. The agreement comes following negotiations with the the National Congress of Chinese Canadians, a group appointed to negotiate redress.”

Wednesday of last week I bought the Jade Peony and finished it last Saturday morning, just in time for my book club. We discussed a lot about our perceptions of both Chinese and Chinese-Canadians but we didn’t manage to talk much about the head tax, though it was mentioned in the book. The book brought out so many different aspects: women’s issues, value of education, even homosexuality, that we couldn’t get to it all. We did discuss the “paper family” though; that’s when documents were forged so that new immigrants were believed to be family to current residents as a loop-hole, I guess, to the Exclusion Act.

It’s interesting that this was announced last week, and this week the government announced payments to be made to Native Canadians who were forced to go to residential schools, where many were abused (well, all were abused if you consider forcing them to lose their cultural heritage abuse). The residential schools have been called “the most disgraceful racist act”, but there are plenty of very disgraceful acts in Canadian history besides these two.

If only money really could change the past.


About Jen

An instructor, a reader, a dog-owner, and advocate; that's how I define myself and these aspects directly impact my interests and conversations.


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