Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act

 The Honourable Senator Yuen Pau Woo, together with the Honourable Senator Victor Oh and Action! Chinese Canadians Together (ACCT) hosted a National Remembrance Ceremony on the 100th Anniversary of the Enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

The ceremony was attended by the Governor General, the Speaker of the Senate of Canada, and over 200 Chinese Canadians from across the country. Thousands more took part via livestream at over 320 viewing parties from coast to coast. Four original compositions of song, dance, and poetry were performed to mark this solemn occasion. A plaque to commemorate the centennial was commissioned by the Historical Sites and Monuments Board and unveiled during the ceremony.

History of Chinese Exclusion – In 1923, the Canadian government introduced the Chinese Immigration Act, commonly known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, to halt Chinese immigration. Part of a broader series of policies that reflected the pervasive racism faced by Chinese people in Canada from the mid-19th century, this Act enjoyed boisterous support in the Senate of Canada. It replaced the initial Chinese Immigration Act of 1885, which included a head tax aimed at discouraging immigration from China.

Chinese Canadians campaigned to repeal this Act; a goal ultimately achieved in 1947. However, it wasn't until 1967 that race-based restrictions on immigration finally came to an end. In 2006, the federal government officially apologized to Chinese Canadians for the imposition of the head tax.

Event photography by Mr. David Lai.