Douglas Jung. From minority to authority

Sarah Vollett
Best Writing in English - Ages 12-14
Mathieu Da Costa Challenge 2001-2002
Lord Nelson Elementary School, Vancouver, BC
Teacher: Steven Dwayne Bryk

Douglas Jung was born in Victoria in 1924, to a country that didn’t want him. Only a year earlier, the Canadian government had passed what was known as the Chinese Exclusion Act. Along with forbidding Chinese immigration, this act stripped Chinese-Canadians of their citizenship. So horrible was it, most Chinese dreamed of their children returning to China. There were some children, however, who wanted something more. Douglas was one of them.

Because of the Exclusion Act, Douglas had no legal status. Oppression ran rampant: Chinese could not join many professions or work many places. Outside Chinatown, they were segregated or banned.

When Canada joined World War II, Douglas was one of many Chinese-Canadians who tried to enlist. Hungry for freedom, fighting for Canada offered acceptance and maybe even the vote.

They were refused. The premier of BC sent an urgent message to the government concerning Chinese in the military. In response, Ottawa issued a secret memorandum: the Chinese were not to fight in the war. When some Chinese tried to join the American military, Canada would not grant the necessary permit.

Douglas’ chance finally came with the falling of Singapore. 120,000 Allied soldiers were captured, and the need for Asian intelligence officers became urgent. Canada was instructed to supply them. Fifteen Chinese who could speak and read any form of Chinese were called upon to volunteer. Douglas was one of the chosen. Their mission, known as Operation Oblivion, was primarily to spy behind enemy lines.

The team took basic commando training near Penticton, BC. In mid-June of 1945, they parachuted into the Malayan Jungle. A second team followed soon after. In August, America dropped the bomb on Japan. The war was over.

Back in Canada, Douglas and the other Chinese veterans began campaigning for their rights. Finally, in 1947, the Canadian Exclusion Act was revoked. The Chinese were given citizenship and the vote.

Douglas earned his law degree, then ran for the Progressive Conservatives, in 1957. He won his seat (Vancouver Centre), and became the first ever Chinese-Canadian MP. Douglas remained an MP until 1962. During his time in the House, he represented Canada at the UN and helped increase Chinese immigration to Canada. After he was defeated, he became an Immigration Appeal Board judge. He then opened a law practice in Vancouver.

Douglas has become one of the most influential Chinese-Canadians in Canada’s history. He has helped win not one, but two battles for democracy. He’s paved the way for great Chinese political figures, like governor-general Adrienne Clarkson, and he continues to make contributions to both the Chinese community and to Canada. Although he has been recognized by the Chinese community, as well as his government (he was named to the Orders of both Canada and British Columbia), his contributions are not well known to Canada’s population. Yet his work has made a huge impact on our nation. Most of all, Douglas Jung has achieved his goal: no longer is he a Chinese born in Canada; he is Canadian.


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