Loading articles...

Historic apology: Vancouver looks to reconcile years of racism towards Chinese community

Last Updated Apr 22, 2018 at 8:53 pm PST

(Photo by Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s about righting the wrongs that were inflicted on so many Vancouverites–the City of Vancouver has issued a formal apology for the historic discrimination of the Chinese community.

“I rise today to formally apologize to the Chinese community of Vancouver, and to all Canadians of Chinese ancestry,” Mayor Gregor Roberston told a crowd at the Chinese Cultural Centre in downtown.

Specifically, the city apologized for not letting Chinese people vote until 1948 and for supporting the federal head tax, among other things.

Robertson says the formal apology reaffirms Vancouver’s commitment as a city of reconciliation, one which the mayor says is shaped by and strives off diversity and contributions made by immigrant communities.

For many, the atonement represents a sort of closure.

That is true for Vancouver City Councillor Raymond Louie, who had an emotional moment talking about what this first step toward reconciliation means to him, a Chinese-Canadian who he says faced significant racism growing up.

“It wasn’t so long ago where people pointed fingers and asked–no, not asked–they told us to go back ‘where we came from’,” says Louie. “This was common refrain when I was growing up and so it’s important for us to not go there again.”

This moment, he says, reflects how far we as a society have come.

“If we are to be successful as a city, as a province, and a nation, we must ever be cognizant of the challenges faced through the fears of not knowing what the other person’s thoughts are.”

George Ing spent 32 years in the Canadian Forces and retired as a lieutenant colonel.

He says he and other veterans have faced hurtful discrimination and for him, the apology is enough. “You just want to become a normal person, be accepted for who you are, what you can do.”

He, like others, is hopeful for a brighter future.