The term ‘Chinese Canadian’ was first publicly used by the Chinese Canadian Club, which was established in 1914 in Vancouver and Victoria. Originally, it is a club that made up of a group of young men, and it became politically active within a few years. However, their campaign for the right to vote for Canadian-born and veteran Chinese people were unsuccessful. The Chinese Canadian-born generation would play increasingly important roles in leading the fight against white supremacy in the years to come.
Joe Hope (Low Kwong Joe 刘光租) was an important community leader who helped found the Chinese Canadian Club in Victoria. He actively supported the anti-segregation school strike of 1922, and traveled to Toronto and Ottawa leading the movement against the Chinese Exclusion Act. Photo: John Adams.
Previously, migrants from China coming to Canada did not think of themselves as members of the same group because they spoke different languages and identified with their home counties or places of origin. However, by the 1910s, the common experience of racist oppression led diverse communities to develop a shared identity as Chinese. They built collective organizations for self-defence and provide mutual aid. Most important of these organizations were the Chinese Benevolent Associations (CBAs) of the major cities, which were unbrella organizations that brought together different associations. The original CBA was consolidated by Victoria’s Chinese, who functioned as a Chinese-controlled local government as it arbitrated disputes, provided free services including a public school, assisted those in trouble with white authorities, and protested racist measures in the comminity.
The article was from the book ‘1923: Challenging Racisms Past and Present‘ designed by John Endo Greenaway. The book is collectively published by Canada-China Focus Stop AND Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Advocacy Group
The Cover photo by Stuart Themson/SFU Digitized Collections
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