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A brief presented by affiliated Chinese Canadian organizations in Vancouver to the British Columbia Elections… Chinese Canadian Association 1946

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October 31, 1946.
  The purpose of this brief is to bring to light, certain facts,
upon which the Chinese-Canadians in British Columbia, base
their appeal for the franchise.
We urge the B.C. Government to revise the Provincial
Elections Act, by broadening to include the granting of full
citizenship rights to all Canadian citizens, regardless of their
racial origin. This is not only desirable but necessary, in
view of the unquestionable loyalty, and the magnificent part
the various sections of our citizens have played, in support
of our Government's war effort during World War II.
The stumbling block to the so-called minority problem,
seems to evolve around the question of whether this section
of our population is worthy of the citizenship rights and
privileges, once it is granted them. To answer that question,
a thorough study into the situation from the various relevant
aspects, should help to clarify the problem.
We ask for the franchise, not only on moral grounds, but
also on our practical worth as citizens of Canada. We think
of Canada as our permanent home, and we exert our very
best effort in making this home worthy of being called a
home. We apply our resources, means, and cultural background to the improvement of our social status, in the community in which we live. We feel a close bond of attachment
for the country in which we are born, brought up and educated. We are loyal to Canada, and are eager and ready to
serve it in any capacity with full responsibility.
Having been born, brought up and educated in this
country, we are familiar with, and have adopted the language,
customs, institutions, and other phases of its culture. We
understand and have absorbed Western ideas, ideals, and
ways of living; and with the coming years this cultural assimilation will be even more apparent.
Our standard of living is on a parity with that of the
white population in similar occupations. If there exists a
drawback against our adopting a higher standard in some
cases, the lack of economic opportunities through economic
discrimination is the contributing factor. But in spite of
these disadvantages, there is considerable economic assimila-
 tion, and there will be a progressively greater assimilation
in the years to come. To illustrate this, note the following
1st Generation Chinese Canadianized Chinese
Cook Accountant
Labourer Factory Worker
Grocer Doctor
Herbalist Drafter
Interpreter Dress Designer
Labour Contractor Engineer
Laundryman Journalist
Seasonal Cannery Worker      Secretarial Worker
Tailor. Teacher.
In spite of these marked changes in occupations—which
is an accurate indication of the degree of assimilation—it
would be an error to suppose that these Chinese-Canadians
are happy and content with their lot. In the face of discrimination, many of those who are less gifted in adjusting themselves to the new environment will almost automatically
find themselves confronted with an insurmountable barrier
of social inequality.
As children, both at school and in the playgrounds,
where elements of prejudice are not present, and where the
young and innocent minds of«average children are not affected by evil discriminatory influence, Canadians usually
find that their Chinese playmates are very much like themselves. When competing on a fair and equal basis, Chinese
Canadian children feel at liberty to hold their own, and are
at no disadvantage. However, this advantage ceases as soon
as they step out of school, and into adult society, because the
Government of this Province has imposed by legislation,
political and economic disabilities, on the Chinese-Canadians
living in B.C.—the only province in Canada to discriminate
its residents on racial grounds.
The presence of this discriminatory practice, together
with the fact that they are under two different cultures, has
caused the Chinese-Canadians to develop what is called dual
personality.   For a Chinese-Canadian's thought, speech, and
behaviour are different from his parents. Because of this,
he pays the price of mental and emotional conflict, and of
social maladjustment, both from among the Chinese and
Canadian people. This conflict is generally brought upon
in the following manner: A young Chinese being Canadian-
ized at school, has a tendency to raise a barrier between himself and his parents. The influence of the environment on
his growing mind makes this tendency unavoidable. A person's emotions and reactions are usually developed in the
recognized manner of his group. A Chinese-Canadian belongs
to two groups. Along which group is he to develop? Generally he tries both, but succeeds in neither. Not in accord at
home and not accepted abroad, he feels at a disadvantage
with both groups.
Constantly confronted with frustrations, many Chinese-
Canadians have thought of going back to China where they
assume more opportunities exist, because of the absence of
discrimination. This problem is not as easy as it seems. Because of his Occidental manners, ways, and thinking, he will
be looked upon as a foreigner. Under such circumstances
these Chinese-Canadians will be at a disadvantage, when
competing with other Chinese in China, for they do not speak
fluent Chinese, nor do they know modern Chinese culture.
Yet many Canadians are under the erroneous impression that
these young people are so completely Chinese in all respects.
The net result of this is that Chinese-Canadians, native born
or naturalized, are being denied the right to vote and are
looked upon as foreigners in British Columbia, because of
their heritage; but if they are to go back to China, they
would still be foreigners in the eyes of the Chinese, because
of their Occidental customs. This situation imposes a double
yoke on these young people. Where do they stand? They are
perplexed! They are youths without a country! Young men
without a country in such a vital stage of their lives! But all
of them were willing to sacrifice their lives for Canada, in
which they are not permitted to become citizens.
Some Canadians contend that if the Chinese-Canadians
were enfranchised, they do not possess full knowledge of the
setup and workings of the Canadian way of government, and
that given the franchise, they might abuse the privilege.   To
 the former question, attention should be given to the fact
that the Chinese-Canadian's ability is being underestimated,
when arbitrarily ruled that they do not possess the necessary
knowledge. For are not these young people educated in Canada where they learned, studied, and acquired the same
knowledge and culture as any other Canadian? The latter
stand about the Chinese-Canadians abusing their voting privileges seems to be rather unfair since no precedence has been
set by which a comparison can be made.
We have just undergone a cruel war to eliminate facism
from this world. Chinese-Canadians went overseas and
fought at all theatres of operations. They have made supreme
sacrifices in World War II, for preservation of justice and
fair play. They enlisted as Canadians. They served as Canadians. They fought as Canadians. Some died as Canadians.
Why can they not live as Canadians?
The denial of the franchise to a racial minority involves
a contradiction of the principles of the democratic way of
government. It is also contrary to those principles for which
we fought. We are fully convinced that, along with other
problems of post-war importance, which great statesmen are
considering today, this question of the franchise for Canadian
citizens of Chinese extraction in British Columbia, merits
the attention of all citizens, especially those to whom are
entrusted the responsibility of leadership and Government.
This Brief is presented to you with the compliments of
the Chinese-Canadian Association, Registered.
Executive Officers
Gordon W. Cumyow  . 1  President
James Chinn .„'____  Vice-President
Edmund Kwong -  Secretary
Gibb W. Yip Treasurer
Miss Cecily Lee Recording Secretary
Board of Directors:—John Wong, Mrs. T. V. Chen, Harry
W. Cumyow, Gordon Lee, Joseph Leong, Miss Florence Chue,
Miss Anne Lew, Harry M. Tuey, John Wong, Raymond Char,
Tim Louie, Harry Con, Miss Esther Fung, Frank Ho Lem,
Harry Keen.


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