Vancouver City Council to deliver official apology in Chinatown for historical discrimination against Chinese people

Gregor Robertson
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

ON Sunday, April 22, Vancouver City Council will convene a special council meeting in Chinatown where Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson will deliver a formal apology for past discrimination against residents of Chinese descent. The apology will acknowledge the wrongdoings of past legislation, regulations and policies of previous Vancouver City Councils.

The formal apology will be part of a larger Chinatown Culture Day event, which will take place between 1 and 4 p.m. throughout Chinatown. The apology will take place at 2 p.m. at the Chinese Cultural Centre at 50 East Pender Street.

“This is an important day for Council to come together in recognition of the historic discrimination that took place against Chinese residents,” said Robertson. “In order to move forward, we must first acknowledge the harm that was committed and how this unfortunate chapter in Vancouver’s history continues to impact the lives of Chinese Canadians. I’d like to encourage all Vancouverites to come on down to Chinatown to be a part of this historic day and join in a celebration of Chinese culture.”

The apology will be read in both English and Chinese. The English version will be read by Robertson, and the Chinese version by former councillors Bill Yee and Maggie Ip. There will also be three community speakers representing voices from the past, present and future; a war veteran who grew up in Vancouver; the president of the Chinese Benevolent Association which has been established for over a century to help Vancouver’s Chinese population; and a young Vancouverite of Chinese descent speaking to her vision for a vibrant Chinese community.

The Chinatown Culture Day event will take place throughout the day on April 22. The entire Vancouver community is invited to Chinatown to enjoy, learn and experience Chinese culture through a variety of activities including: historical walking tours, tai chi demonstrations, calligraphy demonstrations, traditional lion dance lessons, street food stalls, free admission to the Dr. Sun Yet Sen Garden and Chinese Cultural Centre museum, and much more.

Between 2016 and 2017, the City established an Advisory Group of Chinese and non-Chinese experts and community leaders to help guide the development of a formal apology, which was approved by Council in November 2017. The Advisory Group is comprised of retired judges, former city councillors, community elders and advocates, historians, veterans and their descendants, who are active volunteers that share an interest in working with the City to move forward together.

The formal apology for past discrimination reaffirms Vancouver as a City of Reconciliation in which diverse communities can share and learn from the past, collectively address current challenges and plan for a better future for all, according to the City.

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