Friday, February 10, 2006

Head Tax Redress

When I was a student at the U of T in the 1970s I used to go down to the Chinatown (which was pretty small in those days) for a meal. Usually I would chat in Chinese with the lonely old gentlemen who spent a lot of time in the little restaurants and bakeries there. They would often insist on picking up the cheque for my bowl of noodles or whatever which I found rather embarrassing. These were the Chinese men who had entered Canada before 1923 and who had by this time mostly lost contact with their families in China due to political reasons culminating in the Cultural Revolution. By that time they were too old to work any more, so they sat in restaurants nursing cups of tea for long hours every day. Owing to the discriminatory Canadian immigration policies they were never able to enjoy normal family life --- no grandchildren to bring them joy in their declining years. Anyway they are pretty much all dead now, so the redress has come rather late. But I still think about them in their lonliness.

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