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Righting Canada's Wrongs: The Chinese Head Tax and Anti-Chinese Immigration Policies in the Twentieth Century
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Righting Canada's Wrongs: The Chinese Head Tax and Anti-Chinese Immigration Policies in the Twentieth Century

By Arlene Chan

$34.95 Hardback
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Series: Righting Canada's Wrongs

Rating: 0 vote(s).

The first Chinese immigrants arrived in Canada in the mid-1800s searching for gold and a better life. They found jobs in forestry, mining, and other resource industries. But life in Canada was difficult and the immigrants had to face racism and cultural barriers. Thousands were recruited to work building the Canadian Pacific Railway. Once the railway was finished, Canadian governments and many Canadians wanted the Chinese to go away.
The government took measures to stop immigration from China to Canada. Starting in 1885, the government imposed a Head Tax with the goal of stopping immigration from China. In 1923 a ban was imposed that lasted to 1947. Despite this hostility and racism, Chinese-Canadian citizens built lives for themselves and persisted in protesting official discrimination. In June 2006, Prime Minister Harper apologized to Chinese Canadians for the former racist policies of the Canadian government.
Through historical photographs, documents, and first-person narratives from Chinese Canadians who experienced the Head Tax or who were children of Head Tax payers, this book offers a full account of the injustice of this period in Canadian history. It documents how this official racism was confronted and finally acknowledged.




Chapter 1: From China to Canada

Leaving China
Early Chinese Immigrants
Why Canada?
Canadian Society at the Turn of the Century

Chapter 2: Life in Canada, 1860s–1900

Experiencing Racism
Building the Railway
The Head Tax
A Working Life
Chinese Life
Chinese Women in Canada

Chapter 3: Challenging a Hostile Community, 1900–1939

Anti-Asian Violence
Legislated Racism and the Impact of the Head Tax
Chinese Life, 1900–1914
Canada in the First World War
The Exclusion Act
The Fight for Survival in the Interwar Period

Chapter 4: Canada at War, 1939–1945

Canada Enters the Second World War
China and Canada Become Allies

Chapter 5: Challenges and Changes, 1945–1990

Fighting for Rights
Family Reunification and Paper Sons and Daughters
Changing Attitudes

Chapter 6: Acknowledging the Past, 1990–2006

The Fight for Redress
An Official Apology
Permanent Acknowledgements

Chapter 7: Epilogue: Chinese Canadians

A Multicultural and Multiracial Society



For Further Reading

Visual Credits



Winner - Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection - 2015

Winner - Resource Links The Year's Best - Non-Fiction Grades 7-12 - 2015

"Arlene Chan has done a masterjob authoring this book...The Chinese Head Tax is a powerful story. Deeply moving and hugely important are the many recollections offered by eight Chinese Canadian who suffered with their families as a result of the head tax and the 24 years of the Exclusion Act. High school students and teachers of Canadian history and human rights courses will learn much from this book. Sadly, one of the lessons is that Canada has not always been a "just" society. Highly Recommended."

- Joanne Peters, CM: Canadian Review of Materials

"...suitable for young readers of grade five and above.They will get more out of reading this book if they are guided by parents or teachers who can help them better understand and appreciate the complex issues and historical occurences."

- The Dealing Review of Children's Literature

"A wonderful series [Righting Canada's Wrongs] of beautiful books."

- Times Colonist

"An excellent resource for students doing a school or family genealogy project, or for those with an inquisitive mind. Once the book is opened, the photographs will definitely catch the attention and spark the interest of the reader."

- The Deakin Review of Literature

"The visuals are spectacular and will surely be a drawing card for students at the upper elementary, junior and senior high levels who might be studying this topic in their Canadian social studies programs...I would recommend this title for all schools and public libraries. These are topics our students need to be informed about in order to understand and appreciate our history. Rated E, excellent."

- Victoria Pennell, Resource Links

ARLENE CHAN, a third-generation Chinese Canadian, is a retired librarian and author of non-fiction works for children, young adults, and adults on Chinese festivals and the Chinese in Canada. An avid dragon boat racer and gold-medalist on the Canadian National Women's Dragon Boat Team, she lives, writes, and paddles in Toronto.

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Publication Details:

Binding: Hardback, 96 pages
Publication Date: 20th October 2014
ISBN: 9781459404434
Format: 11in x 9in
200+ colour and b&w visuals

BISAC Code:, YAN025050, YAN038050, YAN051090, YAN051180, YAN052040
Imprint: Lorimer

Interest age: From 13 To 18
Lexile Reading Level: 1170L


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Righting Canada's Wrongs

Righting Canada's Wrongs

A highly visual and engaging look at racism and discrimination in Canada's history

Series Website

Series features

  • Voices and stories of those who were affected
  • Geared to support history and civics curriculums
  • Full-colour images of period artifacts, maps, documents and historic photographs
  • Teachers Resource Guide prepared by the Critical Thinking Consortium
"As indicated by its name, this series is hopeful. It is not about opening old wounds; it's about remembering the past, understanding it and moving forward." Nikkei Voice

Righting Canada's Wrongs is a series devoted to the exploration of the Canadian government's actions that violated the rights of groups of Canadian citizens, the subsequent fight for acknowledgement and justice, and the eventual apologies and restitution by governments.