Consultation begins to right historical wrongs

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 11:34 AM

VANCOUVER - The Government of British Columbia today announced a consultation process will begin to discuss the wording for a formal apology to B.C.'s Chinese community for historical wrongs.

Over the coming months, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism Teresa Wat will travel to communities and engage with Chinese community associations and citizens to identify wording for a formal apology. Wat will engage all members of the legislature to provide input and work towards a formal apology which all parties of the House can support.

The input received at the consultations forums will guide the wording of a formal apology. In the next sitting of the legislature, the government plans to introduce a motion regarding a formal apology to British Columbia's Chinese community for historical wrongs.

The B.C. government believes that a rich multicultural society helps nurture acceptance, understanding and mutual respect. Cultural diversity, increased participation and engagement by all cultures are vitally important to create a strong and vibrant social and economic future for British Columbia.

Quotes:

Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for the for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism Teresa Wat -

"A formal apology must be done properly, with meaningful dialogue and most importantly, in a respectful and collaborative manner. I look forward to facilitating this process and identifying wording that the community respects."

Tung Chan, former Vancouver councillor, and current chair, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 -

"The many systemic injustices against Asian immigrants we've witnessed in B.C.'s history has long been an issue of concern, particularly in B.C.'s Chinese-Canadian community. Formulating an apology in consultation with the community is essential for everyone to move forward."

King R. Wan, president, Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society -

"The Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society applauds the B.C. government's initiative to consult with the Chinese-Canadian community to review ways and a meaningful way to effectively convey an appropriate apology to those whose families have suffered through wrongful treatment in B.C.'s history."

A backgrounder follows.

Contact:

Blair Phelps
Communications Director
Ministry of International Trade and
Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism
250 356-7104

BACKGROUNDER

Consultation Terms of Reference

BACKGROUND

The Chinese community in British Columbia suffered legislated inequality and discrimination between 1885 and 1923 when multiple forms of discriminatory legislation were imposed, including the Chinese Immigration Act and again in 1923 to 1947 when Chinese individuals were restricted from entering Canada under the Chinese Exclusion Act.

PURPOSE

The government will engage with British Columbia's Chinese community associations and individuals who were directly and indirectly impacted by prejudicial legislation to work towards offering an appropriate public apology, read in the provincial legislature and supported by all parties in the B.C. government.

Financial redress from the provincial government will not be considered by the minister. In 2006, the federal government acknowledged their role in legislative injustices with a parliamentary apology and ex-gratia payments to surviving head tax payers and surviving spouse of head tax payers only.

GOALS

Hold up to five community-consultation forums to bring together relevant Chinese community associations and individuals directly impacted by historical wrongs, to seek input on to the best approach in providing an apology.

Specifically, consultation forums will:

1. Seek input from the families and ancestors of those British Columbians who paid the head tax.

2. Engage local representatives from a number of Chinese-Canadian communities to confirm consultation locations and receptivity.

3. Conduct focused consultations seeking comment, suggestions and advice regarding the wording and delivery of an apology from the legislature.

REPORTING

The minister, in collaboration with members of the Opposition, will prepare a consultation summary following the conclusion of the consultation process that will include:

1. A brief synopsis of public comments, suggestions and advice.

2. Comments and observations from the minister.

3. Recommendations, including wording and delivery advice of any apology from the Legislative Assembly.

Contact:

Blair Phelps
Communications Director
Ministry of International Trade and
Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism
250 356-7104