Chinese head-tax redress opens door to a better Canada
I joined the Canadian family last week, becoming a citizen on June 21. During the ceremony, a sense of deep emotion overcame me thinking of my welcome into this new and great country; a country abounding with opportunities, great freedoms, and peace. I felt honoured as a member of my new country when the judge exhorted us to work toward making this a better place, to get to know our neighbours and to accept other cultures.
In the midst of all of these good feelings, I have been distressed by Canadian citizens who have not only voiced concerns over the Chinese head-tax redress, but have even rejected the opportunity for reconciliation.
I asked myself, why would someone be upset with apologies and making things right? A simple look at Canadian history depicts the horrid treatment of Asians, even up through the 1940s. What a stark difference this is from the welcome, the blessings and the exhortations I received last week.
So why wouldn’t we put in some effort to make things right? I’ve read how some people have resisted this redress because “Once we begin apologizing for one thing Canada did wrong, we have to apologize to all sorts of other ethnic groups.”
Quite true. There certainly are a lot of apologies that should be addressed. But is that a good reason to not apologize? If I had 10 friends whom I betrayed, would it not make sense to begin a process of reconciliation, beginning with the one whom I treated worst?
Ignoring our history is one way to silently and devastatingly fragment a population. I see this in the United States, where I grew up, and I do not want to see it here.
I believe in caring for our neighbours. I have Filipino neighbours, Mexican neighbours, Europeans and Asians. The only thing keeping us from getting know one another is ourselves. We need to open the doors of our lives to others and to a future of living together. This requires reconciliation with the past.
I invite all Vancouverites on Canada Day to join together downtown and march in a Parade for Reconciliation. We will meet at 11 a.m. Saturday at Victory Square (Cambie and West Pender) and march into China town. This is a grassroots way of symbolizing a reversal of the ransacking march that was made 100 years ago.