World War II vet­er­ans hon­oured

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By HATTY LIU in Van­cou­ver For China Daily

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.

HATTY LIU / FOR CHINA DAILY

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.

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