La Taxe d’entrée, c’est quoi ça? / Head Tax, what’s that?

Hing Dere Head Tax Certificate

One of the reasons why the Chinese community in Québec is still an immigrant community is the Head Tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act (HTEA), which lasted from 1885 to 1947, 62 years. Even though, the early Chinese came to Québec 150 years ago, the Chinese Exclusion Act and other restrictive immigration laws prevented the Chinese from arriving in Québec in large number until the 1980’s. The Sino-Vietnamese “boat people” arrived in the early 1980’s, followed by the Hong Kong Chinese fleeing de-colonization there in 1997, and now the Chinese come mainly from the People’s Republic of China to settle in the various regions of Québec. The early Chinese pioneers who were affected by the HTEA came mainly from the Toishan district of southern Guangdong province.

At the start of this film project, we set out to get the attitude of the young Sino-Québécois to the history of the HTEA. Gina Gu, a recently arrived immigrant feels, “It is unfortunate what happened in the past but us young people must live in the present in order to survive here.” Parker and Bethany, whose families have been in Canada for 3 to 4 generations feel that the HTEA directly affected their families and kept their families apart for many years. It is sad for many of the HTEA families whose Head Tax payers have passed away. For them, the government Apology was “Too little, too late.”

 

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