Prakash Joshi
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Reconciling Communities on Canada Day

by Prakash V. Joshi
July 1, cure 2006


On June 27th I was invited with others to Bill Chu’s home. It was the first time I had ever met him and his wife Sylvia but I was impressed by their humbleness. Over a cup of tea Bill described his vision about getting not only the Chinese community but all communities to participate in a ‘Parade of Reconciliation’ on July 1st, 2006, commemorating Canada Day.

The backdrop was the federal government’s parliamentary apology and redress for the Chinese Head Tax survivors and those directly affected on June 22, 2006. The current government provided an official redress to end historic injustice to Chinese-Canadians.

The parade started with a rally at Victory Square. Speakers included Bill Chu, founder of Canadians For Reconciliation, Bill Siksay MP for Burnaby North, Peter Ladner, Vancouver City Councilor and pastors Tama Ward-Balisky and Wayne Lo.

Bill Chu gave a brief history of the rampant discrimination suffered by the early Chinese immigrants: more than 24 anti-Chinese pieces of legislation proposed in British Columbia (1878-1913), the removal of Chinese students from classrooms, the banning of Chinese from public swimming, the restricted seating in theatres and entrance to universities, the inability to own houses, etc…. One of the purposes of the parade was to symbolically reverse the 1907 anti-Chinese immigration parade that turned into an ugly riot where a mob of 9000 ransacked Vancouver Chinatown with some Chinese jumped into False Creek to escape harm. ‘What we need most now is to educate the public about how Canadians treated minorities in the past. Without that, Canadians will miss the log in their eyes and the need for reconciliation.’ He again stressed the importance of not to dwell only on the government’s past injustices but to educate the public so that citizens would take ownership of past communal discrimination and walk together for spiritual reconciliation.

The pastors provided a moving message that apology and reconciliation is important in relation building.MP Bill Siksay apologized on behalf of his ancestors and family who benefited from collecting the taxes and emphasized the need and the importance of the parade. Councilor Ladner voiced the City support for the work of reconciliation. The speeches ended with the Chinese and non-Chinese coming together in a spirit of mutual embrace. Then the parade started at Victory Square and ended at the Mennonites Seniors home in China town. Sweets in red envelopes embossed with the words Peace and Joy were distributed to store owners along the way, as well as amongst the seniors. The walk was also punctuated with a stop at every city block in China town. All participants lined up along the curb on opposite sides of Pender street and observed a minute of silence to symbolically express their deep sorrow over the hate and discrimination that occurred in the past. At the end of the parade , participants entered the senior home and had an opportunity to celebrate the purpose of the parade with seniors including a Mrs. Wan who is 105 years old.

Prakash Joshi, AScT, Limited Licensee (Engineering)
Senior Materials Engineering Technologist

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