After years of Head Tax did not stop Chinese immigration, the Canadian government passed legislation that effectively stopped immigration from China for 24 years. The ironically named Chinese Immigration Act came into effect on July 1st, 1923. The holiday known as Dominion Day was called “Day of Humiliation” by the Chinese community. It was not repealed for 24 years. This legislation can create a complex relationship for persons of Chinese ancestry as they consider their identity as Canadians. The ‘Exclusion Act’ impacted the community in ways we are only now beginning to understand. It created an imbalance in male/female ratio within the Chinese community, and forced family separations for decades.
STORIES OF EXCLUSION is a workshop which will see Chinese community members share their hidden histories with Asian artists. The artist witnesses will use those stories as inspiration for their creative practice. Members of the public are also invited to witness these stories; however, we ask that you RSVP in advance with email@example.com Due to the sensitive nature of the interviews, there may be restrictions on access, and/or artists may be in rehearsal.
Throughout the project, Calgarians can learn more about Calgary’s first Chinatowns through the We Were Here: Stories of Early Chinatown exhibit on display a cSpace Eau Claire Neighbourhood Hub. This exhibit was first created by Lougheed House National and Provincial Historic Site. As few artifacts remain from the early years of Calgary’s Chinatown, 5 artists were invited to imagine stories from that time and an illustrator brought it all to life. The exhibit is on long-term loan to the Chinese Cultural Centre and they have graciously allowed Stories of Exclusion to help create the atmosphere of the space we are using by surrounding ourselves wth the exhibit.
On Canada Day, we will host an alternative celebration at cSpace Eau Claire Neighbourhood Hub. Canada Day: Stories of Exclusion will honour the hidden histories of the Chinese community as a result of the Chinese Immigration Act. Lion Dancers will chase away the evil spirits of the Chinese Immigration (Exclusion) Act, and artists will share how this project affected them and perhaps inspired projects for the future. We invite all who wish to reflect on the complicated history of this day.
Interview collection and research:
If you are a Chinese settler and have Stories of Exclusion you would like to share with the project team, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org