Discover the achievements of the Community Historical Recognition Program

Let’s acknowledge the history of Canada’s cultural communities. Discover more about the Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP) by watching this video.

Discover the achievements of the Community Historical Recognition Program

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Transcript: “Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP)”

Video length: 6:14 minutes

The scene shows people walking on a street.

NARRATOR: Canada is a multicultural society.

On a background that looks like old parchment paper appears an archive photograph of a group of immigrants, with the caption “Immigration Restrictions.”

On the same background, a photo of an internment camp appears, with the caption “Discriminatory war measures.”

NARRATOR: But during Canada’s past, some communities were affected by restrictions on immigration or discriminatory wartime measures.

The title “2008–2013 – Community Historical Recognition Program” appears on a black background, with a vertical “CHRP” at the top right of the screen.

NARRATOR: In 2008, the Government of Canada established the Community Historical Recognition Program, known as the CHRP, to acknowledge the historical experiences of these communities, including Chinese, South Asians, Italians, Jews, Ukrainians and others.

An old photograph of men working on railroad construction appears on the old parchment paper background, with the words “Chinese,” “South-Asian” and “Italian” superimposed in turn. A new photograph appears, this time of people working in a factory, with the words “Jewish” and “Ukrainian” superimposed in turn.

NARRATOR: During its five years, the CHRP helped produce 68 community projects.

Against the same background, a photo of a group of men appears, with the caption “68 community-based projects.”

NARRATOR: These stories and memorials are reminders of a difficult time in our history, and promote a lasting awareness of the experiences of these communities. Here are a few of their stories:

A new photo appears, this time of Sikhs on board a boat. The photo is replaced with a black-and-white photo of Chinese lumberjacks in the early 1900s, followed by a close-up of the same men. A group photo then appears, of a group of Chinese people posing in front of a post office, with those in front sitting cross-legged on the ground. The image is replaced with a photo of the registration certificate of director Kenda Gee’s grandfather, followed by a close-up of the certificate. That image is replaced with one of a Dominion of Canada immigration certificate, followed by a close-up of the photo on the certificate.

NARRATOR: Today’s Chinese Canadians are well established and accomplished members of our society. But not so long ago, they were subjected to systemic discrimination including racism, exploited for cheap labour and a broad restriction on Chinese immigration, in the early part of the 20th century, known as the Head Tax.

A black and white photo appears of two men on a barge, one standing and using a long pole to guide the barge and the other seated in the bow. This is followed by a colour photo of a man of Asian origin walking on the street. The image is replaced by a photo of Took Gee, Kenda Gee’s father, dressed in a suit and gazing pensively at a body of water in China. The camera zooms in on his face. A new image appears—a black and white archive photo of a group of Chinese-Canadian workers engaged in building a railroad. In another group photo, dozens of workers pose on a railway rail.

NARRATOR: The CHRP-funded documentary film Lost Years: The Chinese Canadian Struggle for Justice traces the plight of Chinese Canadians by following the family of director Kenda Gee across four generations.

The next photo is of Larry Kwong, a former player with the National Hockey League, in conversation in an office; beside him is Kenda Gee, the director of the documentary. In another black and white photo, Larry Kwong is seated with his fellow players on the players’ bench, watching a hockey game. Another photo appears, of a team’s members on a bus. This is followed by a colour photo, of another Chinese-Canadian man, the Honourable Norman L. Kwong, on a sidewalk with his wife and Kenda Gee. The photo is then replaced with a photo of him dressed in the full regalia of the Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta.

Three photos follow in succession: a black and white photo of a group of Chinese people with Reverend Hugh P. Hobson, the first Rector of Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, in 1890; a photo of a man standing at the door of a business under a sign that reads “Yick Lung Jin. Merchant Tailors “; and a photo of a small crowd of men in hats. The last photo fades out.

NARRATOR: Featuring interviews with Chinese emigrants such as Larry Kwong (the first Chinese Canadian to play in the National Hockey League) and the Honourable Norman L. Kwong, (former professional athlete and Lieutenant Governor of Alberta), this documentary examines the impact of these historical events on Chinese Canadians. It includes the historic apology issued by the Government of Canada in 2006 to the Chinese community.

The background now changes to a page torn out of a spiral notebook. Against it is a black and white photo of the freighter Komagata Maru, followed by a photo of people standing at the bow of the vessel, then finally a photo of one of the bridges, with passengers standing at the rail.

NARRATOR: In 1914, the Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver harbour. On board were 376 passengers who hoped to make Canada their new home. Although the passengers were predominantly Punjabi Sikhs, many were Muslims and Hindus.

A black and white photo of a group of Sikhs appears, followed by a photo of one of the freighter’s bridges with passengers, and then another full-view photo of the Komagata Maru, being escorted by other vessels.

NARRATOR: However, most were not allowed to land because the ship had not sailed directly to Canada as required by immigration rules at the time. After almost two months in the harbour, the ship was forced to return to India where a number of passengers and soldiers were killed in a clash with British soldiers.

Back to colour photos. The first is of a monument, reminiscent of a ship’s hull, dedicated to the history of the freighter and its passengers. Photos of Sikhs are shown, followed by a close-up of the steel panels etched with the names of Sikhs. Fade to black.

NARRATOR: Created by two groups in Vancouver, the monument dedicated to the Komagata Maru is located in close proximity to where the ship was anchored. Made of steel panels, set within the surroundings, to simulate the ship’s hull, it presents a poignant historic image of a tragic day in Canadian immigration.

Action images from World War II follow one another: a tank transporting soldiers, artillerymen firing canons, and gunners firing from the top of a promontory. The last image fades out and is replaced with a photo of Italian-Canadians and two photos of internment camps in which Italian-Canadians were held during World War II. Fade to black.

NARRATOR: When World War II broke out in Europe, Canada was governed by wartime measures. Under these wartime measures, 31,000 Italian Canadians were designated as “enemy aliens” with about 600 arrested and interned in camps across Canada.

Next comes an image of a page from the website called Italian Canadians as Enemy Aliens: Memories of World War II. The page is titled “We were the Enemy.” It is followed by two other pages, “Expand Your Knowledge” and “The Collection.” A new page shows various photos of internees, in alphabetical order. This is followed by an elderly man being interviewed. The image then reverts to the website, on which a collection of photos has been posted. Fade to black.

NARRATOR: During that same time due to wartime measures in Canada, nearly 2,300 men, mostly Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany, were interned as “enemy aliens.”

A photo appears of a man unveiling a monument to the events surrounding the MS St. Louis. People gaze at the monument, which is shaped like a cylinder within which four different-sized gears turn. The gears are labelled “Antisemitism,”  “Xenophobia ,” “Racism” and “Hatred.” A different angle provides a closer view of the gears. A plaque lists the names of the passengers on the ship.

NARRATOR: None is Too Many: Memorializing the MS St. Louis is a project created by a national Canadian Jewish association, commemorating this tragic moment in our immigration history. It established the Wheel of Conscience, a monument at Pier 21 in Halifax, which commemorates the ship and its passengers. A national youth essay writing contest was also held to explore the current generation’s thoughts on the incident.

Interview segment with Yan Ma, whose name appears on the screen along with his title and a Web address (Chief Illustrator/Artist for a CHRP Web project – www.access-cht.ca).

It is important to remember the memory and to let a new generation understand what happened in the past, so we can prevent it from happening in the future.

Minister of Multiculturalism Jason Kenney is shown, with the caption “The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Multiculturalism.”

We can either seek to forget those moments of imperfection, of injustice, of discrimination, of persecution, or we can seek to recognize them, and to learn from them, and to be impelled by them to do better now and in the future.

The title “2008–2013 – Community Historical Recognition Program” appears on a black background, with a vertical “CHRP” at the top right of the screen.

NARRATOR: These are but a few stories from our shared history that have been captured through the support of the CHRP. The Government of Canada thanks all the individuals and community organizations that participated.

The www.cic.gc.ca/chrp Web address appears in a webpage search bar, and the home page of CIC’s Community Historical Recognition Program appears. The www.cic.gc.ca/chrp Web address reappears at the bottom of the screen. Fade to black.

NARRATOR: To learn more about the program as well as explore some of our many other commemorative and educational projects, visit cic.gc.ca/chrp

A list of organizations and individuals who contributed to the production of the video appears against a black background. Fade to black.

Departmental signature comprising the Canada flag symbol and the name of the department: “Citoyenneté et Immigration Canada – Citizenship and Immigration Canada.”

Fade to black.

Canada wordmark

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