Opinion

EDITORIAL: Apology overdue

The province wants us all in on the apology it plans to make to B.C.’s Chinese community for a litany of historical wrongs imposed on it by past B.C. governments.

In crafting the wording of the apology, the provincial government is holding seven forums across B.C. to gather public input, including one in Burnaby, and the minister responsible for making the apology, Theresa Wat, says she wants all British Columbians to participate.

The apology is a long time coming.

Despite the contribution Chinese people made to building this country, they were treated as less than second-class citizens by many, including many in the general public, numerous businesses and the provincial government.

More than 100 pieces of discriminatory legislation and regulation against the Chinese community were passed in the 1800s and early to mid-1900s, including restrictions on employment, voting, ability to hold public office and land ownership, as well as exorbitant taxes based on ethnicity and restrictive licensing and regulation. Chinese people were not even allowed full citizenship until 1947.

But, for many, the racism did not stop then.

So, it’s fitting that the community should be asked to provide input into the apology the province plans to make.

What’s needed now is to hear clearly from the Chinese community itself about what it expects in terms of an apology.

Throwing it open to the public in 2014 may generate helpful input but it should not be allowed to blunt the apology with the excuse that the sins of the father should not be put on the son.

B.C. needs to step up and address its racist past.

Kelowna Capital News/Black Press

 

—Kelowna Capital News

 

 

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