To right historic wrongs done to the Chinese community, the federal government has given the University of B.C. $900,000 to help run a Chinese-Canadian history website.
Alice Wong, Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism, made the announcement Monday at the University’s library.
Wong said the government has apologized on behalf of all Canadians for the so-called “head tax” the country charged Chinese immigrants to enter Canada between 1885 and 1923–and the near-total ban on Chinese immigration between 1923 and 1947.
“This was a dark chapter in Canada’s history,” said Wong, the Conservative MP for Richmond.
Canada is now spending $5 million on assorted ways to recognize the contribution of Chinese immigrants to their adopted country, she said.
The website, which will be launched in 2012, will feature a digital archive of stories by Chinese-Canadians.
There will also be a way for people to tell their stories online in a multimedia format.
UBC history professor Henry Yu said this year is the 125th anniversary of the laying of the last spike in Canada’s national railway–built in part by Chinese labour–and it marks 125 years since the head tax.
“The Chinese were already here,” said Yu. “What we want to do is create a new sense of Canada’s past that includes the Chinese.”
The website is www.chinesecanadian.ubc.ca.