ACLA at the 2013 Chinese Railroad Workers Ceremony

Thank you to the event organizers for inviting ACLA to bring greetings and for organizing this annual gathering to recognize the contribution of Chinese railroad workers.
In the Chinese community, Canada is known as “Gold Mountain” meaning land of opportunity and prosperity.
Generations of Chinese have looked to Canada as a place of hope and good fortune.
For Chinese railroad workers, their story is bittersweet.
It is a story of hope and resilience, but it is also a story about hardship, sacrifice, and racial exclusion.
The first Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. MacDonald, insisted on cutting costs in building the Canadian Pacific Railway and campaigned to bring in Chinese workers to lower labour costs.
This was the less expensive, alternative option which overshadowed a more elaborate immigration/settlement proposal aimed at bringing in the preferred white Anglo-Saxon workers from British colonies.
In 2006, Canada formally apologized to the Chinese community for it unfortunate treatment of these workers and their families.
While there is recognition of mistreatment on this front, the Canadian government has not learned from past mistakes.
Today, we continue to see Canada use migrant labour.
Not much has changed, except the workers are coming from all over the world now, mainly from the global south.
What is disheartening is Canada has continued to implement similar exclusionary practices.
Instead of the Chinese Immigration Act or the Chinese Exclusion Act, it is now repackaged as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
These programs allow workers to come into Canada to do work that Canadians are not lining up to do.
They are recruited to work in the fields in rain or shine harvesting the food that we eat.  They are the private caregivers for our children and elders because our country lacks a national strategy to properly care for our young and old.
As a country, we heavily rely on these workers.
However, they are not treated equally and they lack the same protections and rights as Canadian workers.
They are welcomed to labour in Canada for low wages, but they are not allowed to stay.
History is repeating itself and this is wrong.
For ACLA, events such at this one are particularly important.
First, it is an opportunity to help us remember the past struggles of Asian workers.
Second, it reminds us about the links to the issues we are currently dealing with today.
Lastly and most importantly, it can inform and inspire us to chart the path forward.
Asian workers have come along way in Canada, but more work lies ahead.

國慶日向鐵路華工紀念碑獻花 悼盤占元表揚華工貢獻大

【明報專訊】加拿大鐵路華工基金會一如往年﹐於昨天加拿大國慶﹐到市中心的鐵路華工紀念碑前獻花。

基金會創辦人兼人頭稅苦主盤占元今年3月與世長辭﹐安省人頭稅家庭聯盟主席周宇平不忘在儀式中﹐悼念盤占元﹐並讚揚他不遺餘力﹐爭取主流社會對鐵路華工為加國所做的貢獻。

周宇平指﹐若非鐵路華工艱苦工作﹐興建貫穿東西兩岸的太平洋鐵路﹐就沒有今日的加拿大﹗

他說﹕「沒有華工﹐便沒有鐵路﹔沒有鐵路﹐卑詩省﹑阿伯達省﹑育空區便可能不會加入加拿大聯邦成員﹐豈會有今日的加拿大。」

偏偏加拿大政府過去一直忽略鐵路華工的貢獻﹐有見及此﹐本身是人頭稅苦主後人的盤占元﹐特別成立加拿大鐵路華工基金會﹐並於廿多年前開始﹐每逢國慶日﹐便在紀念碑前獻花。

昨日亦有參加儀式的中國駐多倫多領事房利則表示﹐華人的貢獻不僅創建了貫穿東西的鐵路﹐還以百折不撓的毅力﹐在加拿大建立自己的家園﹐並成為加拿大多元文化的一部分。

盤占元作為人頭稅苦主的後人﹐期間雖經歷過很多歷練﹐但始終未有悲觀﹑失望﹐最後更爭取到聯邦政府就人頭稅事件道歉﹐實在難得。

公布盤占元紀念獎學金得主

基金會昨日亦宣布首屆的盤占元紀念獎學金徵文比賽的得獎名單。該會副主席胡龍傑表示﹐今年全國共收到18份作品﹐其中三分二是來自非華裔學生。

冠軍得獎者是來自西門菲莎大學藝術及經濟系學生Anysley Wong Meldrum﹐其可獲得500元獎學金﹔亞軍則是紐芬藺省紀念大學工程系學生Dmitry Kosarev﹐季軍為溫尼辟大學的Lynnette Van Bruggen﹐他們分別獲300元及200元獎金。

基金會主席Andy Mark表示﹐今次徵文比賽的主題雖是關於加國華人的歷史﹐但參賽作品中少於20%為歷史系學生﹐顯示大部分參與者事前都需要進行大量資料搜集﹐藉此可進一步了解加國華人歷史。

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