Chinese Immigration and integration in Canada Submitted by: Swami Chemung student number: 500342755 POLL 129 Section 011 15 March 2013 integration in In order to look at the history of Chinese Immigration In Canada and how this reflects on Canada, and Its success In welcoming and Integrating immigrants, one needs to divide the history into different episodes. The first is the early settlements, mostly in British Columbia, as Chinese came more as sojourners for gold and fortune.
The second would be the onset of Canadian legislations ostracize Chinese Canadians, spawned from fear and racial discrimination. The third and last would be the period when Canada repealed many of its exclusionary legislations and truly welcomed the Chinese all together into their society. The Beginning Settlements Around the mid to late 19th century, China was in turmoil. On the international stage, they were consistently losing wars against foreign powers. The most famous of these was the second Opium War.
Where they suffered a humiliating defeat and were forced to sign the Treaty of Nanking. This treaty along with the Treaty of Tension gave naval access to Britain’s fleet and ceded the Hong Kong Island to British rule. It further Insulted the Chinese by forcing them to write all official documentations In English (Here 2011, p. 135). At the same time, China was confronted by natural disasters and economic woes internally. All this together with to the international losses, severely eroded political stability and the trust of the Chinese people – causing massive civil unrest.
This led to the Tapping Rebellion and Boxer Rebellion, where ten thousands of Chinese civilians were killed (Here 2011, p. 1 36). This instability certainly led to a major emigration from China to more stable and promising lands. Even though the King government had long banned emigration, due to foreign pressures, they had forcibly been opened-up to Britain (hence Canada), France, and the united States (Tan 1985, p. 4). Around the same time, In 1 858, there was a gold discovery along the Fraser River spread and the Caribou Regions.
Hundreds of Chinese Immigrated to Brutish Columbia, more than ever before, to seek their fortune. This influx marked the first of much continuous were of the uneducated peasant class, whom were barely literate in Chinese, let alone English. They received low wages, their living conditions were horrible, and ark was hard with long hours – yet they struggled to survive. Aside from mining gold, others did blue-collar work in restaurants and households (Con 1982, p. 16). Their treatment by the host country was detrimental.
Change (1984) quotes from Byron Johnson, a British Journalist, whom had toured British Columbia at the time: It is the fashion on the Pacific Coast, to abuse and ill-treat the Chainman in every possible way he is treated like a dog, bullied, scoffed at, kicked, and cuffed about on all occasions, and yet, withal, he betrays no sign of meditated revenge, and pursues his labors calmly, and is civil and polite to all. P. 17) Another major event that happened around this time was the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPRM). In 1877, John A.
McDonald’s government had wanted to construct a railway project from the Fraser River to Sampson Lake. There were already anti-Chinese sentiments amongst the white Canadians, especially in British Columbia. The white Canadians were generally antagonistic to the Chainmen due to ignorance and racial prejudices. Also there was the economic fear of wage decreases and Job losses from this arrival of cheap labor (Lie 1993, p. 3). So Andrew Underdone, an American assessing who got the contract, promised that he’ll only hire Chinese workers only if he can’t hire local Canadian workers.
Nevertheless, in order to finish the railway project from Yale all the way to Savanna’s Ferry, he had hired many thousands Chainmen who would work diligently for much lower wages (Con 1982, p. 21). By the completion of the project in 1884, there have been an estimated total of 17 thousand Chinese workers whom have constructed the railroad. Most came from the southern coastal region of China, mainly from the densely-populated Gudgeon and Fijian provinces (Thompson 1989, p. 34). Similar to the gold mines, the working conditions of the railway was exhausting and highly dangerous.
Many Chinese died from rock explosion or tunnel collapse since they were using the highly unstable nitroglycerin explosives. Also the living conditions at the work camps along the railway were really scanty and the low-paid workers could barely afford nourishing food. So many others died from exhaustion or diseases like scurvy (Con 1982, p. 23). Also, it had been stated that the most dangerous work was given to the Chinese worker instead of to the local white Canadians. When the COP Railway was finished, there were Chinese workers eternally abandoned at some work camps.
Roughly four Chinese died for every mile of railroad constructed. (Change 1984, p. 22) Racial Discrimination and “Humiliation Day’ Bringing people from different cultures together would create conflicts and as the number of Chinese immigrants grew, so did the anti-Chinese sentiments. Especially amongst the local white Canadians, who were once colonists themselves. This was evidently shown by how the “Chink’s” (as they were derogatorily termed), were portrayed in various news publications. Here are a few excerpts from the Calgary Herald that Change (1984) pointed out: “We do not want Chainmen in Canada.
It is desirable that this country shall not be peopled by any servile race not the degenerate children of the Mongols. ” (Septet. , 1884) “The insidious almond-eyed gentlemen from the walled empire continue to work themselves to Canada. ” None, 1888) There were also numerous violent demonstrations against the Chinese people 1892 Calgary mob attack on some Chinese Laundries believed to be the origin of a smallpox outbreak (an idea spread by the news publications), and the infamous 1907 Vancouver riot against Asian immigration. (Tan 1985, p. 10). The Chinese were a minority and had no right to vote.
Neither would a handful of resentful Chinese merchants truly endanger the Canadian markets. Hence they held little political or economic sway. After the completion of the COP Railway, it was clear that the Canadian government representing the local white populace, wanted to encourage the Chinese to leave or immigrate slower. In 1885, the Chinese Immigration Act was pushed through Parliament and the Head Tax on Chinese immigrants was increased to $50, up from $10 a year earlier on. This was subsequently increased to $100 in 1901 and even $500 in 1904.
It was estimated that a total of $24 million Head Tax was paid out y the Chinese around this time (Change 1984, up. 26-28). The Head Tax had slowed down Chinese immigration but they were still coming into Canada even if they needed to borrow or pool money together. Although this had restricted the early Chinese settlements (a great deal consisting of working men), from bringing its inhabitants’ wives and children over. As the white Canadians continually felt infiltrated and their Job security threatened, they sought political maneuver to suppress the Chainmen.
Restrictions were placed on the Chainmen from “white occupation” such as agriculture, fisheries, public works and canneries. They were also banned from holding licenses that block them from professions in law, pharmacy, lumber, and so on. This led to a niche where the Chinese could only do blue-collared work mostly in the domestic, textile, mining, and construction industries – with the exception of a few wealthy and well-connected Chinese merchants. (Roy 2003, p. 28) Last but not least, the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 was passed on Dominion Day. The Act abolished the Head Tax but only admitted four classes of immigrants.
These were university students, merchants, Canadian-born returning home, and diplomatic personnel (Change 1984, p. 8). This Act virtually stopped Chinese immigration and along with the previous Head Tax, caused a great disproportion in the Chinese Canadian demographic. It had also stirred-up great resentment from the Chinese Canadians, who has termed Dominion Day as “Humiliation Day’. Many came together to rally and protest biblically against these immigration laws (Change 1984, p. 42). During the period around the First World War and the Great Depression, racial animosity, ignorance, fear was at an all-time high.
The Chinese were frequent targets of racial discrimination and negative political statements. The aforementioned exclusionary policies & legislations had effectively treated and decreased them into second-class citizens. Considered an inferior race, they were tolerated for their usage in the development of western Canada, but marginalia in Canadian society as a whole. (Lie 1993, p. 5). Immigration assimilation and integration? It had been claimed that the development of geographically localized clusters of Chinese Canadians have been due to their cultural habits of “sticking together” and forming clans and organizations.
Some have even emigrated as a group from the same villages and counties (Thompson 1989, p. 8). These tight-knit organizations and associations were created as a part of the early communal structure. They were based upon clannish/kinship, dialect, origins, and political leanings amongst other addition, there were complaints that prostitution, gambling, and brawling were commonplace in these Chinese settlements, causing social woes to the Canadian society as a whole (Roy 2003, p. 32). Yet others argue that regardless of the Chinese cultural and social structures.
The formation of Chinatown and groups like the Benevolent Chinese Association, where the Chinese mainly kept to and helped themselves, wouldn’t have evolved – were it not for the severe discrimination and extractions/bans from Canada. (Thompson 1989, p. 9) The fact that the Chinese were economically, socially, politically, and culturally segregated from the Canadian social system, during its early settlement (in the mid-19th century) to the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act (in the mid-20th century), was a key precondition to the formation of the separate and tight-knit Chinese communities (Thompson 1989, p. 5). They became a segregated community with their own social structure, not because they were resistant to assimilation of the host country – they were segregated by the host country! For instance, Canada had a “hands-off’ policy for Chinese immigrants in respect to “white Jobs” and white women (Chainmen couldn’t hire white women), which played a part in dividing the two races from integrating. The immigration restriction placed on Chinese women, elders and children caused the Chinese Canadian men to transfer money overseas, where their families were still living.
This lack of women and children in the “bachelor Chinatown” led to little needed interaction with acculturating institutions like schools. All these factors and more specifically slowed the Chinese integration into the overall Canadian culture. Lastly, he point is shown when comparing Canada to successful Chinese integration in other countries like Cuba. Where during the same time period, 75% Chinese Cuban men have married native women and adopted the island as their permanent home (Thompson 1989, p. 88).
The Gradual Acceptance of Chinese Immigrants With the onset of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and then the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, China was considered an ally in the Second World War. Wartime cooperation from the Chinese like buying Canadian Victory Bonds and working on war productions in factories & shipyards had created unity from the Canadian society at large. Not to mention that Chinese Canadians had also Joined the military to help the war effort (Roy 2003, p. 170). In 1947, the Canadian government had repealed the Chinese Immigration Act.
By the sass, most of the discriminatory legislation against the Chinese Canadians has been removed. Yet the Chinese immigrants still weren’t seen as equals to their European or US American counterparts. Unlike the Caucasians, they were restricted to only spouses and unmarried children until 1962. Only after 1967, when Canada adopted a universal point system for allowing immigrants in, were the Chinese admitted under the same criteria as other races. Lie 1993, p. 8) Logically, after the immigration amendments in the mid-20th century, one saw a shift of demographics.
A lot of dependents (wives, children, senior) of the early Chinese immigrants flooded into Canada. In 1960, approximately 70% of the immigrants were females, a majority in their twenties (ex. Wives). This disproportion was still there but became less distinct as the years moved on in the later ass’s, where the female to male immigrants were closer to a 50:50 ratio. The overall Chinese Canadian demographic was balancing-out. Aside from the female disproportion, share of young people (Thompson 1989, up. 9-100).
It needs to be recognized however that there were illegal Chinese immigration due to the fact that a number of these “wives” and “dependent children” are not exactly what they seem. There was a well-organized operation, mostly in Hong Kong, which specializes in birth & marriage certificate forgeries and the training of its respective holders. So children over 21- years-old (the age of dependency), and young “wives” (sponsored by their Chinese Canadian “husbands”) also came into Canada. Nevertheless, the reunification of Chinese families with each other in Canada had been achieved. (Thompson 1989, up. 2-103) Incidentally, there were many push factors that happened in China during the 20th century. There was the formation of Communist China in 1949. Then there was the Attainment Square incident in 1989, which left a lot of Chinese disillusioned and fearful. Also another notable incident was Hong Kong being returned back to China’s sovereignty in 1997. Many Chinese were anxious and uncertain about the future in this new political setting in China and Hong Kong (Roy 2003). In Toronto alone, between 1966 and 1981, the Chinese population Jumped from 8 thousand to 80 thousand (Thompson 1989, p. 1). It should be noted that the Chinese immigrants in the latter half of the 20th century were a different crowd than their early counterparts. They were more affluent and educated; so they were more easily accepted by the Canadian government and integrated easier to the overall society. Meanwhile the socio-political condition in Canada was improving for the Chinese as the enactment of the Charter or Rights and Freedoms (1982) and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act (1988) created more social sensitivity and better political legislation for visible minorities (Lie 1993, p. ). These created a pull factor, attracting China emigrants towards itself. Immigration assimilation and integration in the 20th century To measure immigration integration, one should look at the language, education, occupation and income statistics. As these are good measures of one’s ability to succeed and acquire status within the host country, indicating how well one had adjusted to the host society. For this we’ll split the Chinese Canadians into two groups, the immigrants and the Canadian-born.
During this period, it’s shown that the Chinese immigrants predominantly spoke Chinese and are general less-educated than their Canadian peers. Also, they still mostly work in “ethnic Jobs”, or the stereotypical restaurant and textile industries, with lower than average pay. Whereas the statistics on Canadian-born Chinese show that they have integrated into the dominant society. They are generally bilingual and have obtained education, various jobs, and earnings equal to (or even greater than) other Canadians (Thompson 1989, up. 116-117).
This is largely owing to the laws (or repeal of laws) that finally allowed the Chinese Canadians to vote, study alongside other Canadians in public schools, and obtain any Jobs they choose to pursue. So during this “gradual acceptance period” of Chinese into the Canadian way-of-life, one can see acculturation and assimilation mainly in the Canadian-born Chinese. As for the immigrants, they had maintained the otherwise waning tight-knit ethnic Chinese community, since it seemed necessary for them, as it was for the first Chinese settlers.
Interviews with many Chinese Canadians in the contemporary age, both immigrants and Canadian- born, show that a majority consider themselves as Canadians. They find acceptance remain here. Some were even surprised to learn of the earlier racial discrimination ND exclusion laws by Canada (Hung 1992). Unlike the “melting pot” United States, Canada is more a multicultural and pluralistic society. Where it respects many different cultures and allows them to keep their distinctiveness, while still being connected and united to the Canadian society as a whole.
This is how a bulk of Chinese Canadians identifying themselves from their different cultures and backgrounds. Conclusion The earlier history of Chinese immigration has revealed Canada in a negative light. All the racial discrimination, social segregation, negative political demagogy, ND exclusionary legislation had made life hard for the early Chinese Canadian; Triggering a sluggish adjustment and assimilation to Canadian culture by the Chinese, mainly on the social and economic level.
The conservative attitude of intolerance and racial discrimination that projected the Chinese as unassailable was itself a self-fulfilling prophecy. With the changes in the latter half of the 20th century, caused as much by the international political situation at the time than a social awakening; the contemporary Canada had become a much more welcoming and pen country to Chinese and other minorities in terms of immigration, education, social acceptance, policies and economic viability.
A Canada where many Chinese Canadians sincerely identify themselves as a part of the country – considering it as their home. This teaches us to learn from our past, so that we will not repeat these racial discrimination and oppression in the future. Chinese Canadian history has shown that it is to the benefit of society as a whole to give equal rights and opportunities to every Canadian. Bibliography Change, D. , Chemung, H. , and Randy Wong. Our Chosen Land: A history of Chinese Canadians. Toronto: CNN, 1984. McClellan and Steward: 1982. Here, Frances.