Chinese Immigration to British Columbia Essay

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Chinese Immigration to British Columbia, 1880-1923 Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the plight of Chinese immigrants was far worse than any other immigrants in Canada at that time. At first, Canada was lenient in regards to immigration policies because they wanted to funnel people to the West in hopes of settling. Unfortunately, racist immigration policies began to stem from the West, specifically British Columbia, which was directed towards the Asian immigrants. Apparently what was meant by the term, “immigrant” at that time was “white and British.” According to Canada’s 1900 Minister of the interior, Clifford Sifton, the type of immigrants he preferred were, “stalwart peasants in sheepskin coats…if British immigrants are not available, other white immigrants will do.”1 This paper analyses Canadian racist immigration policies such as; the 1885 Chinese head tax, and the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act (Exclusion Act) that were implemented to prevent Chinese from immigrating to the West. This paper will portray the way in which Chinese immigrants helped build Canada, particularly in the West, but in return were mistreated. With the building of the Canadian pacific railway (CPR) the Chinese were underpaid, suffered worse conditions than white workers and were verbally tagged with racist names such as coolies.2 This acceptance of lower wages by Chinese workers threatened the white workers which caused a development of animosity towards them. Andrew Onderdonk, the head man in charge of running the CPR project, was responsible for shipping thousands of immigrants to the west to build this railway from 1880 - 1885. Onderdonk is an example of one of several people who took advantage of Chinese labourers because they were, “hard workers and the least expensive.”3 The Chinese community in the west worked together to help each other out against this racial

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