World War II veterans honoured
The contributions of Chinese Canadians during World War II were recognized at a recent ceremony at Vancouver’s Chinese Canadian Military Museum.
The May 9 ceremony, during Asian Heritage Month, marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe.
British Columbia Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon presided over the ceremony, which was attended by 10 Chinese-Canadian veterans of the war. More than 600 Chinese Canadians served in World War II as part of the Canadian armed forces as well as volunteers for the Chinese resistance in China’s War Against Japanese Aggression.
The event also served as the opening ceremony for the World War II portion of the museum’s True Patriots exhibit commemorating the experience of Chinese Canadians in both world wars.
Guichon performed the ribbon-cutting for the exhibition and received a guided tour of the galleries.
Afterwards, she gave a speech to veterans and distinguished guests from the local Chinese-Canadian community, saying that the history of Chinese Canadians in the war was “a huge story” and hoped that schoolchildren also will be taken to visit the exhibition she had just seen.
“It is so important to learn about [this history] and to honour the past so we can build a much more inclusive Canada,” Guichon said.
At the time, following the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, the majority of Chinese immigrants were barred from entering Canada. Those of Chinese ethnicity born in Canada were not given Canadian citizenship.
These restrictions were repealed in 1947 in recognition of the contribution of Chinese Canadians to Canada during the war.
“For these reasons, we say that the Chinese Canadians earned a double victory in World War II, and we had the first Chinese-Canadian member of Parliament within 10 years [of the citizenship act],” said Catherine Clement, co-curator of the museum.
The exhibition includes photographs, letters, uniforms, shell casings, a munitions case and medals donated by veterans to the museum. One section showcases the museum’s project in inquiring into the fate of missing soldiers and recovering the details about their life and service.
Additionally, the exhibition tells the story of family members who served together in the war, as well as soldiers and families who supported the war effort by buying victory bonds.
“There are Chinese people from all over the world who have come to BC [after the war] but have little knowledge of the history of the Chinese community [here] in the 19th and early 20th century,” King Wan, museum president, told China Daily after the ceremony. “The exhibit honours and [tells] the history of the pioneers who fought for the opportunity for us to be treated equally.”
For Tommy Wong, a veteran of the Pacific Unit 280 attending the ceremony, the exhibit also has another message. “I want people who come [to the museum] to learn that any war is not good. For the people who go to [serve] in wars, there is no winner,” Wong told China Daily after the ceremony.
Items from the exhibition at the Chinese Canadian Military Museum also will be displayed at the Britannia Shipyards National Historical Site from May 26 to August.
British Columbia Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon (centre) cuts the ribbon for the opening of the World War II 70th anniversary exhibition on May 9 at the Chinese Canadian Military Museum, along with (from left) King Wan, museum president; Carol Lee, patron of the museum; John Yap, MLA Richmond-Steveston and former BC minister of state for multiculturalism; Colonel Howe Lee, museum founder and president emeritus; and Richard Lee, MLA BurnabyNorth and former parliamentary secretary for Asia Pacific strategy and multiculturalism.