City launches Historical Discrimination Against People of Chinese Descent Advisory Group

March 21 2017 We're commemorating International Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination with the Raise Your Hand campaign

Parade in Chinatown celebrating V-J Day

Today, International Day to Eliminate Racial Discrimination, we're announcing the formation of an external advisory group to guide us on our Historical Discrimination Against People of Chinese Descent (HDC) work.

Work on this topic has been ongoing since Council passed a motion in late 2014, directing staff to:

  1. Conduct research into the laws, regulations, and policies of previous Vancouver City Councils that discriminated against the people of Chinese descent in the City of Vancouver from 1886 to 1947
  2. Consult with the Vancouver Chinese community, historians, and Chinese community organizations on the research findings
  3. Report back to Council with recommendations on steps and actions in support of reconciliation, including a public acknowledgement and formal apology

Since then we've carried out initial consultations with local historians and experts with the support of City Archives and the Vancouver Public Library.

An Advisory Group has now been formed to guide the rest of the process and recommend next steps and actions.

Advisory group

The Advisory Group, which has already met twice, includes members from local organizations, our Cultural Communities Advisory Committee, and the Mayor's Working Group on Immigration, as well as knowledge experts, veterans, and descendants. Respected senior members of the Chinese community were invited to join the Advisory Group as honorary members to provide important perspectives.

Examples of historical discrimination

Historical discrimination against people of Chinese descent in the City of Vancouver includes:

  • Full voting rights were not granted to Chinese-Canadians until 1948
  • Through its contracts and grants, the City excluded Chinese people from being employed by the City or by those doing business with the City. No Chinese person was employed by the City of Vancouver until 1952.
  • City bylaws restricted where Chinese residents could own and run businesses, and housing covenants were used to prohibit Chinese residents from purchasing property.

May public consultation events

Three public consultation events will be held in May for you to provide your comments. Feedback will be used to create a draft final report in the fall and the proposed wording for an official apology. Check back for details on our website.

Between now and the fall Council meeting, the Advisory Group will:

  1. Provide input on the public consultation process and review the outcomes of those meetings
  2. Propose wording for an official apology
  3. Recommend next steps in support of reconciliation

Raise Your Hands Against Racism

March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Leading up to the event, Vancouver residents and staff have had the opportunity to make a strong statement against racism by participating in the Raise Your Hands Against Racism campaign at locations around the city.

On March 21, participants in the campaign were able to drop by locations around Vancouver, dip their hands in water-based paint, and help create colourful murals. Mural locations in Vancouver include City Hall, Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, and the Terry Salman Branch Library.

The Raise Your Hands Against Racism campaign is organized by Spice Radio – Vancouver's South Asian radio station – to encourage Canadians to take a stand against racial injustice and renew our commitment to tolerance and respect for diversity.

Learn more about Raise Your Hands External website