Government of Canada commemorates the Exclusion of Chinese Immigrants from 1923 to 1947

For 24 years, Canada enforced heavy restrictions on immigration from China through legislation commonly known as the Chinese Exclusion Act.

June 23, 2023                                   Ottawa, Ontario                      Parks Canada

 

Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development commemorated the national historic significance of the Exclusion of Chinese Immigrants by unveiling a plaque at the Senate Chamber in Ottawa, Ontario. The announcement was made on behalf of the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada at the National Remembrance to Commemorate the Centenary of the Chinese Exclusion Act, coordinated by the Senate of Canada, in partnership with Action! Chinese Canadians Together.

On July 1, 1923, the Canadian government introduced a new Chinese Immigration Act, commonly known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, to stop Chinese immigration. The Act was the culmination of widespread anti-Chinese racism and policies increasing in Canada since the 19th century. Chinese Canadian men and women tried to prevent the passage of the Act and afterwards continued to lobby for its repeal.

For almost a quarter of a century, the Chinese Exclusion Act imposed restrictions that separated families by prohibiting immigrant spouses and children from joining the predominantly male Chinese population in Canada. While the exact number is unknown, Canada allowed entry to fewer than 50 Chinese persons during the 24 years that the Act was in effect.

Significantly, this Act also required all Chinese persons living in Canada, even those born here, to register with the government and to carry certificates with photo identification, or risk fines, detainment, or deportation. This was the only time the federal government imposed such a requirement on a non-Indigenous community during peacetime. The Act was repealed on May 14, 1947.

The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada supported by Parks Canada, commemorates significant persons, places, and events that have shaped Canada. Sharing these stories helps foster understanding and reflection on the diverse histories, cultures, legacies, and realities of Canada’s past and present. The final location for the plaque will be in the new Chinese Canadian Museum in Vancouver’s Historic Chinatown.

The designation process under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,200 designations have been made nationwide. To nominate a person, place or historic event in your community, please visit the Parks Canada website for more information: https://parks.canada.ca/culture/designation/proposer-nominate

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