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.
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。