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About this collection

The Project:
The Southern Alberta Chinese Canadian Oral History project provides individual video interviews with Chinese Canadians about their factual family history of immigrating to Canada from China. The focus is primarily on survivors or ancestors of Early Chinese Immigrants arriving in the late 1800's to early 1900's. Generally, people that were charged The Head Tax during this time period are who we are covering for this project.

Purpose:
The purpose of the project is to preserve recollections of early Chinese immigration to Canada from China in an oral, video format. Each stand-alone interview will be accessible on the internet for researchers and for anyone who is interested in early Chinese Canadian immigration history. This will preserve historical record of early Chinese immigrants in a format accessible to a wider audience base via the internet.

Who We Are:
The project is in partnership with The University of Calgary Information Services and Simon Fraser University Library Services.
Directors/ Videographers/ Editors are Len Lee and Jasmin Poon of Calgary. An occasional additional person may sometimes be involved.
The project is funded by the Sien Lok Society of Calgary represented by Ray Lee. From the original need to safeguard the Chinese Community and Calgary's Chinatown, to the development of Sien Lok Park which commemorates Chinese contributions to Canada's cultural fabric, the Society has continually focused on initiatives that advance and preserve Chinese Canadian heritage.

History:
Important events in the early history of the Chinese in Canada:

  • 1788 - First known presence of Chinese
  • 19th century - Upheaval in China
  • 1865 - Search for cheap labour in Canada and the United States
  • 1881 - 1884 - Building of National Railway: est. 17 000 Chinese migrated to Canada to work as railway workers
  • 1885 - 1923 - Head Tax: federal government implements head tax to Chinese immigrants, ranging from $50 to $500 per person
  • July 1, 1923 - Chinese Immigration Act, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act went into effect allowing only Chinese merchants to immigrate. The Exclusion Act separates family members living in Canada and China
  • 1907 - Backlash against Chinese communities in Vancouver
  • Once the railway was finished the Chinese began moving across Canada
  • World War I: Chinese volunteer for military service
  • World War II: Chinese contribute to Canadian war effort
  • May 1947 - Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act
  • 1947 - Chinese allowed to immigrate to Canada as independent immigrants ending overt discrimination
  • 1971 - Multiculturalism policy adopted

When:
The Southern Alberta Chinese Canadian Oral History project began in the summer of 2005.
Interviews are being conducted on an ongoing basis until early 2007.
30 - 40 interviews are to be completed by Spring 2007.

 
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