UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Backstory to Exclusion : A conversation between curator Catherine Clement and Dr. Henry Yu of UBC Clement, Catherine; Yu, Henry, 1967-


Want to understand the backstory to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act? The long-awaited exhibition “The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act,” opened on July 1, 2023 marking the 100th anniversary of this dark but largely forgotten period in Canadian history. This national exhibition is an unflinching look at the quarter-century of exclusion (1923-1947). The show reveals stories and objects uncovered through interviews and extensive research: stories of loss, despair and fear, as well as powerful examples of courage and perseverance. Since the exhibition focuses heavily on the exclusion period, we wanted to offer you an opportunity to learn more about the backstory to this unique chapter in Canadian history. What led Canada to design such a drastic and unprecedented law? Why were Chinese singled out from all other migrant groups, including other Asians? How did circumstances, world events and the U.S. shape the thinking of Canadian lawmakers? What propelled these ideas to grow, and how did other Canadians react? Finally, why did exclusion create such an enormous paper trail? Here is your opportunity to better understand what shaped this momentous period and get a glimpse into what your ancestors were hearing and experiencing as the doors to Canada began to close. Sponsors and partners: Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC; Chinese Canadian Military Museum; Chinese Canadian Museum; UBC Public Humanities Hub; UBC Studios.

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