By March 31, 2008, the Government of Canada had identified 785 surviving head tax payers and their spouses and paid them each $20,000 as compensation. Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes an official apology in the House of Commons to Chinese Canadians for more than six decades of legislated racism against them through the <i>Head Tax and Exclusion Act</i>. Ontario Superior Court justice dismisses a class action asking for compensation for the <i>Head Tax and Exclusion Act</i>, but also states that the Government of Canada has a moral obligation to redress Chinese Canadians. The Chinese Canadian National Council surveys the Chinese Canadian community and registers more than 4,000 head tax payers, their spouses and descendants and launches a campaign for an apology and redress. Two elderly Chinese head tax payers, Dak Leon Mark and Shack Yee, meet with MP Margaret Mitchell (Vancouver East) and ask for help in getting a refund and redress for the $500 head tax they both paid to enter Canada. With the proclamation of the <i>Charter of Rights</i> and Freedoms, the fundamental rights of all people in Canada are entrenched in our Constitution. Two elderly Chinese head tax payers, Dak Leon Mark and Shack Yee, meet with MP Margaret Mitchell (Vancouver East) and ask for help in getting a refund and redress for the $500 head tax they both paid to enter Canada. The Chinese Canadian National Council forms as part of the community's response to gross misrepresentation in a national news report. Chinese Canadian lawyer Kew Dock Yip teams up with Jewish civil rights lawyer Irving Himel to repeal the <i>Chinese Exclusion Act</i>. Kew Dock Yip, a son of Vancouver merchant Yip Sang, is called to the Ontario Bar, becoming the first Chinese Canadian lawyer. The <i>Chinese Exclusion Act</i> comes into force on Dominion Day in 1923. The <i>Chinese Exclusion Act</i> comes into force on Dominion Day in 1923. Further amendments to the <i>Chinese Immigration Act</i> quintuple the head tax on Chinese to $500 to discourage individual and family settlement in Canada. Amendments to the <i>Chinese Immigration Act</i> double the head tax on Chinese immigrants to $100. The federal government assigns the Royal Commission on Chinese Immigration and later levies a $50 head tax on all Chinese immigrants. The federal government assigns the Royal Commission on Chinese Immigration and later levies a $50 head tax on all Chinese immigrants. Further amendments to the <i>Chinese Immigration Act</i> quintuple the head tax on Chinese to $500 to discourage individual and family settlement in Canada. The driving of the 'last spike' into a railway tie at Craigellachie, B.C., marks the completion of the mainline of the CPR and connects Canada to British Columbia. Thousands of Chinese are recruited by the Canadian Pacific Railway to build the western section of the transcontinental railroad through the Rocky Mountains. Thousands of Chinese are recruited by the Canadian Pacific Railway to build the western section of the transcontinental railroad through the Rocky Mountains. The Fraser Valley Gold Rush in British Columbia attracts the first major migration of Chinese to lands that later become Canada. Kew Dock Yip, a son of Vancouver merchant Yip Sang, is called to the Ontario Bar, becoming the first Chinese Canadian lawyer. Amendments to the <i>Chinese Immigration Act</i> double the head tax on Chinese immigrants to $100. The driving of the 'last spike' into a railway tie at Craigellachie, B.C., marks the completion of the mainline of the CPR and connects Canada to British Columbia. The Fraser Valley Gold Rush in British Columbia attracts the first major migration of Chinese to lands that later become Canada. Chinese Canadian lawyer Kew Dock Yip teams up with Jewish civil rights lawyer Irving Himel to repeal the <i>Chinese Exclusion Act</i>. The Chinese Canadian National Council forms as part of the community's response to gross misrepresentation in a national news report. Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes an official apology in the House of Commons to Chinese Canadians for more than six decades of legislated racism against them through the <i>Head Tax and Exclusion Act</i>.

Road to Justice

Road to Justice is an account of the historical use of law by governments in Canada as a tool to exclude, restrict or otherwise control the lives of people of Chinese descent. Road to Justice is undertaken by the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic with the support of the Government of Canada through the Community Historical Recognition Program.

This legal history project is in part an investigation of the social values and politics that led to such shameful laws as the Chinese Exclusion Act (Immigration Act, 1923) and the various head taxes on Chinese – which along with other federal, provincial, and municipal statutescreated a body of law that was aimed at restricting the lives and activities of a single race of people.

Selected decisions in key court cases are also summarized. The second part of Road to Justice covers interviews and biographical sketches of some of the first Chinese Canadian lawyers, as well as key activists in the Redress Campaign, who lobbied the Government of Canada for an apology for more than 60 years of legislated discrimination against them and their community.

These early laws were clearly discriminatory and they provide a stark contrast to the multiracial, multicultural Canada we share today with others from all parts of the world who have chosen this country as their home.

Interview with Pierre Burton Interview with Pierre Berton
Linda Lee Oland Interview with Justice Linda Lee Oland

Justice Oland was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  She obtained her B.A. in 1971 and […]

Walter Tom Interview with Walter Tom

Walter specializes in immigration and business law in Montreal and is a coordinator of a university legal […]