The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement to mark 100 years since the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923:
“The Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, was a dark time in Canada’s history that has lasting impacts today. Along with the Chinese Immigration Act of 1885, which imposed a head tax on Chinese newcomers to Canada, the racist 1923 legislation almost completely prevented people from China from entering Canada for 24 years. It remained in place until its eventual repeal on this day in 1947. This systemic discrimination and racist policy separated loved ones, impoverished families, and reinforced prejudice against people of Chinese origin in Canada – scars that would endure for generations.
“Chinese communities in Canada deserved better – they still do. That’s why, 100 years since this terrible legislation was enacted, we must continue to fight anti-Asian racism, violence, and hate. The Government of Canada is working to tackle an alarming rise in anti-Asian racism. To help us address the unique needs of Asian communities, the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat has worked with Asian community organizations to co-develop an official definition of anti-Asian racism and the federal government is investing in initiatives like the establishment of a national coalition to support Asian Canadian communities.
“Diversity is Canada’s strength. As we celebrate Asian Heritage Month, we recognize the important contributions of Chinese communities in Canada to shaping our national fabric. From the late 1800s, when many Chinese immigrants came to Canada and risked and sacrificed their lives to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway, to today, as remarkable Chinese Canadians like Canada’s 26th Governor General, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, serve our country in immeasurable ways, people of Chinese origin across Canada have shaped our history and they continue to make this a better country.
“As we reflect with regret on the shameful legacy of the Chinese Exclusion Act, we recommit to learning from the mistakes of our past to do better today. Together, we will fight anti-Asian racism and all forms of intolerance, hate, and discrimination to build a stronger, more inclusive, and more equitable Canada for future generations.”