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Remembering the Chinese Immigration Act 1923: Honouring Our History

July 1, 2023, the centenary of the Chinese Immigration Act

July 1, 2023, marks the centenary of the Chinese Immigration Act (also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act), a significant and regrettable chapter in Canadian history. Passed on July 1, 1923, the Act severely restricted Chinese immigration to Canada and imposed racially discriminatory measures, including a complete ban on immigration from China from 1923 to 1947. Exceptions were only granted to select groups (eg. diplomats, merchants). It resulted in immense hardships and challenges for the Chinese Canadian community, continuing a legacy of systemic racial discrimination that continues to be felt today.

Despite the discrimination they faced, Chinese Canadians have persevered and made invaluable contributions to the growth and development of our country. From the early pioneers who worked tirelessly on the railroads, to the entrepreneurs and community leaders, their impact on the cultural, economic, and social fabric of Canada cannot be overstated. Through their determination, they helped shape the diverse and inclusive society we cherish today.

Why was the Act implemented?

The Chinese Immigration Act was implemented in response to the influx of Chinese individuals, primarily males, who were brought to Canada to work in harsh conditions during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Concerns arose that these individuals might seek permanent migration with their families, leading to the creation of the Act as a preventive measure. Consequently, thousands of Chinese workers opted to stay in Canada, enduring separation from their families for extended periods due to the socio-economic challenges in China. The Act not only discriminated against the Chinese community but also caused prolonged separation between loved ones, lasting for decades in many cases.

 

As we look back on this dark chapter in our history, it is crucial that we engage in open and honest conversations. We must confront the uncomfortable truths, confront the injustices that were inflicted upon the Chinese Canadian community, and strive to rectify the systemic barriers that continue to be felt today. By acknowledging the past and learning from it, we can work towards a more inclusive and equitable future.

 

At Diversecities, we are dedicated to promoting understanding, celebrating diversity, and fostering dialogue. By shedding light on the stories and experiences of marginalized communities, we aim to cultivate empathy, compassion, and unity. Through education and awareness, we can break down stereotypes, challenge prejudices, and build a society that values and embraces every individual.

 
Spotlight on Diversecities Community Service Association

In our community, the Diversecities Community Service Association (formerly the Calgary Chinese Community Service Association) stands as a shining example of empowerment and support for immigrants and diverse populations. Founded in 1978 by a group of university students of Chinese descent, our mission is to foster an inclusive and supportive society, where every individual has equal and unhindered access to all facets of Canadian society. We strive to break down barriers, challenge systemic injustices, and create a community that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusivity. By advocating for equal opportunities and working towards eliminating discrimination, we aim to build a society where everyone can participate and thrive without limitations. Our commitment lies in creating a Canada that values and respects the rights and dignity of all its people, ensuring a future of true equality and unity.

Recognizing the profound impact of historical injustices and existing barriers in access to services, our organization has actively worked to address community needs, service gaps, equip and empower community members, and guide them along the path to reach their full potential.

Over the years, Diversecities has continually developed its services to effectively meet the changing needs of our society. We understand that societal challenges are not static, and it is crucial to adapt and expand our support systems accordingly. Our commitment to community service remains steadfast as we strive to foster healing, empowerment, and resilience within marginalized communities. Through ongoing research, engagement, and collaboration, we have broadened our scope to encompass a wide range of issues that affect individuals and communities. We have developed comprehensive programs and initiatives designed to address the multifaceted aspects of social, emotional, and psychological well-being.


Some activities include anti-racism education seminars and workshops, public legal education seminars, English language classes, and support groups to enhance the adaptability of immigrant community members.

At Diversecities, we firmly believe in the transformative power of collective action and inclusivity. We work closely with diverse communities, listening to their voices, and incorporating their perspectives into our programs. By fostering a sense of belonging, understanding, and support, we aim to create braver spaces for individuals to heal, grow, and thrive.

As we move forward, we remain committed to challenging systemic barriers, promoting social justice, and advocating for the rights and well-being of all individuals. Diversecities is driven by the belief that everyone deserves equitable access to opportunities, resources, and support systems. Together, we can create a future where the scars of historical trauma are acknowledged, healed, and ultimately overcome.
 

You Can Get Involved

If you are passionate about making a different in our community, and would like to contribute Diversecities’ mission, there are several ways to get involved:

 

Volunteer: Diversecities welcomes dedicated individuals who are passionate about making a difference. Consider volunteering your time and skills to support our programs and initiatives. To learn more about our current volunteer roles, please visit: https://www.diversecities.org/volunteer-2-0

 

Donate: Your financial contributions can help sustain and expand the organization's services, enabling us to reach more individuals and families in need.  For more information, please visit: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/diversecities/

 

Promote Awareness: Share Diversecities' mission and success stories with your network. By raising awareness, you can help foster a more inclusive and welcoming community. For more updates and to know more about our Anti Racism Program, please visit, https://www.diversecities.org/anti-racism-project

 

Some additional ways you can learn more information about anti-racism resources include, but are not limited to:

 

As we reflect on the Chinese Immigration Act and celebrate the contributions of many Chinese Canadians to Canada, let us remember the importance of embracing diversity, promoting inclusivity, and standing up against discrimination. Together, we can build a more vibrant and harmonious society for all.

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