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A Brief History of Race issues in Canada and BC

The Indian Act of 1876 was designed to eliminate Aboriginal culture and assimilate the people into English-Canadian society

• 1896, Clifford Sifton, minister of the interior in Laurier’s government, launched an aggressive campaign to attract immigrant farmers to the West

• Chinese people immigrated to assist in building the railway. In 1904 they were allowed in but their rights were severely limited

September 7th 1907 the Vancouver Riot took place. Several hundred people marched into the Chinese and Japanese sections of the city throwing stones through windows and beating people of the minority groups up because of bad relations between residents in BC with Asian newcomers

• Some initial thoughts people had around racism were that; “individuals who are immigrating over are causing a loss in rights and opportunities for the ‘general’ ‘white’ population”, some people held the belief that individuals were “recruiting children to ‘their cause’” for “equal rights and privileges for all”

• In 1908, 5,000 Sikhs arrived at Vancouver aboard the Komagata Maru vessel, and were immediately quarantined at anchor; no one was allowed to disembark. Upon their departure there was no law against coming across to Canada, since India and Canada were both apart of the British Empire. Canada passed a law that only ships coming directly from India (even though no ships were technically able to sail harbor to harbor) could enter into Canada. The Komagata Maru sailed to Vancouver but people were not allowed off so the ship sat in the harbour for 2 months. 160 armed police officers boarded a rug and made its way out to the Komagata Maru, The resulting "Battle of the Burrard Inlet" was terrible. Passengers held off the approaching authorities by throwing coal, bricks and scrap metal at the tug. The naval vessel HMCS Rainbow was called in to ‘influence’ the boat to leave. Feeling at a loss the passengers agreed to leave and departed Vancouver on July 23. This was never to be forgotten by the Sikh community of Vancouver.

• 1917 women gained the right to vote in British Columbia
• This was a huge step forward in Human Rights – However the right to vote only went to white women

• Civil Rights took a step backwards in 1923 when a decision was made by the government to deport Chinese immigrants back from Vancouver

The KKK in Vancouver was supported by police, clergy and business men

• In one specific incident a Chinese man was kidnapped and beaten in a house on 25th avenue → only two of the twelve men involved (all were police officers) were committed to jail and even then their sentences were for less than a year

• In 1941 Japan’s military bombed Pearl Harbour, and people felt the incident ‘close’ to home

• One must be careful regarding the emphasis that was put on the accuracy of reports and articles generated during WWII → news reports always labeled Japanese Canadians solely as “Japs” and never Canadians

Real testimonials of Japanese stories throughout WWII have been uncovered years later, stories untold from textbooks or in history classes

• December 10th, 1948, United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: all humans born equal despite sex, age, gender, and religion

Potlatch law abandoned 1947-51

• 1961 aboriginal peoples can vote in federal election however, women of colour were becoming more and more invisible in day to day living

• People of minority groups were interviewed over the course of the 20th century and their answers reflected the following: a colour hierarchy was in place which went from white down to black at the bottom. Indigenous peoples moved up due to their work with their rights and treaties. All peoples answer that groups in the hierarchy have some notion about the hierarchy of blacks and all the peoples of various groups poled agreed that blacks were at the bottom of the hierarchy

1971 Nixon went to China suddenly China became acceptable and familiar.

1969 after Trudeau was elected Canada opened its doors to immigration. Canada was painted initially like a welcoming place. Unfortunately a sincere welcome to Canada could not hide the start/foundations of how Canada was formed, under intentions of a ‘white man’s’ country.

Racist propaganda outlawed 1981

• Canadian constitution protects individual Canadian and Aboriginal Rights 1982

Commerce and pop culture are currently speeding up the process of bringing peoples together

1993 BC Multiculturalism Act

• Discrimination needs to be cut down with an increase in interventions aimed towards the violation of one’s human rights

Human rights and multiculturalism go hand I hand to make sure there is no discrimination → Ujjal Dosanjh believes, “moving to a time when we don’t need laws for rights as everyone is just treated equally”, may arise in the future if we all collaborate to stop racism sooner than later

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