provoking thoughts about the presence of our past

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sold! CBC Podcast Series about Race and Vancouver Real Estate

Happy to see that the podcast hosted by Stephen Quinn and produced by Bal Brach has found a wide audience. I was honoured to be one of the interviewees who took part in this thoughtful and in-depth examination of how the debate over foreign investment and the speculative real estate market in Vancouver has been obscured by misunderstandings about the history of race and white supremacy in British Columbia.

SOLD!

 

SOLD!

CBC Vancouver journalist Stephen Quinn's love letter/Dear John letter to the city he once adored. SOLD! lays bare the anguish and the impact of the housing crisis as it threatens to rip the city apart. Stephen explores the role foreign investment plays in all of this and whether we have a hope of solving it. Relationship Status: It's complicated. 
Updated: Weekly
Download episodes from this podcast for: 3 years
Visit Show Site:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/events/cbc-vancouver-launches-original-podcast-sold-1.4631375
Subscribe:

All podcast episodes

Use the links below to download a file.
Episode 6- ‘Winning?’ 

Could foreign investment in B.C. real estate be good for the people who live and work here? Beyond the wealth accumulated by fortunate home owners, can the win-fall generated by a booming housing industry benefit us all? 
Download Episode 6- ‘Winning?’
[mp3 file: runs 00:37:56]

Episode 5 - Dirty money 

Casinos. Corruption. Money Laundering. Loan Sharking. Fraud and fentanyl. The tentacles of illicit foreign funds reach deep into the heart of Vancouver’s housing market.
Download Episode 5 - Dirty money
[mp3 file: runs 00:34:44]

Episode 4 - Selling B.C. 

How politicians, realtors, and developers marketed British Columbia to the world. They wanted us to be a 'world class' destination for investors. Now we are. Was it a mistake to woo international money into the Vancouver market?
Download Episode 4 - Selling B.C.
[mp3 file: runs 00:42:36]

Episode 3 - History 

Foreign investment in Vancouver real estate isn't new. We explore the history of foreign money in the market. 
Download Episode 3 - History
[mp3 file: runs 00:31:26]

Episode 2 - The Race Card 

The conversation should be focused on the flow of foreign capital. But has it become an attack on immigrants? Politicians and developers cynically conflate the issue while Chinese Canadians experience the tension.
Download Episode 2 - The Race Card
[mp3 file: runs 00:37:35]

Episode 1 - The Break-up 

A story of greed, race and love that goes to the heart of the fight over foreign capital in housing. The backdrop is Vancouver’s real estate boom as we shine a light on the impact the affordability crisis is having on our relationship with our city. 
Download Episode 1 - The Break-up
[mp3 file: runs 00:21:00]

Trailer 

Coming soon...A CBC Vancouver original podcast that explores how foreign investment in real estate divides community, class and culture. Veteran Vancouver journalist Stephen Quinn asks who can stay? 
Download Trailer
[mp3 file: runs 00:02:24]

Monday, April 23, 2018

City of Vancouver Formally Apologies for Historical Anti-Chinese Discrimination

On Sunday, April 22, the Mayor of Vancouver delivered a formal apology to the Chinese community of Vancouver at a Special Council Meeting held at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Chinatown. Over 600 people, many of them elders who had lived through the period for which the apology was being made, witnessed the apology being given in English, Cantonese, and Szeyup ("Four Counties") dialect, the language spoken by the majority of the Chinese in Vancouver prior to the 1960s.



The day's events went well, despite the logistical challenges of having so many people in Chinatown that day watching on a big screen at the Keefer Memorial and inside the David Lam Multipurpose Hall at the Chinese Cultural Centre. It was moving to see so many of the elders get emotional during the apology. I saw more than a few with tears in their eyes, including one of the surviving WWII vets when he was acknowledged by Lt. Col. George Ing, who spoke poignantly about their courage in volunteering to fight for Canada even though they had been denied so many rights that others enjoyed. 

The apology was first and foremost for those elders who suffered through those difficult times, and so it was moving to see what it meant to them.

A wonderful article by Gordon McIntyre of the Vancouver Sun:






Vancouver apologizes to Chinese community for injustices of the past





Imagine loving the country you were born in so much that you’re willing to sacrifice your life, if necessary, in its honour.
Imagine being turned down because of the colour of your skin.
The City of Vancouver took steps Sunday to atone for even worse injustices done to the city’s Chinese community, injustices that weren’t only formally condoned, but also actively pursued from Vancouver’s first council meeting in 1886 onward.
Following the lead of Parliament, the legislature in Victoria and city hall in New Westminster, Vancouver formally apologized for historical discrimination against the Chinese community at a special council meeting Sunday in the Chinese Cultural Centre.
“It’s a rightful and long-overdue apology,” retired Lt.-Col. George Ing said in response to Mayor Gregor Robertson’s lengthy and heartfelt mea culpa on behalf of the city and past councils.
Ing told the story of Chinatown residents volunteering to serve in the Second World War, despite being denied citizenship and the right to vote, only to be turned down on ethnic grounds.
“These were Chinese Canadians who were born in Canada,” he said. “They could not become professionals. They could not become a lawyer, a doctor, a dentist or a teacher. They could not go to a local swimming pool, in the theatre they had to sit in the back rows.
“They decided to fight for Canada and prove they were Canadians, but were rejected because they were Chinese. Can you imagine walking into a recruiting office, willing to fight for Canada … to fight for the country you live in and being rejected?”
Robertson spoke of how the first half of Vancouver’s history was awash in official and systematic racism, prejudice and discrimination directed at Chinese-Canadians.
“And yet for 60 years, rather than standing up against the injustice of racism, many of our elected officials, including mayors and councillors, used the legal power of the city to enact and expand laws targeting Chinese residents,” Robertson said. 
Point by point, the mayor listed grievous actions taken by city hall to deny Chinese-Canadians basic human rights, the right to vote chief among them: “No Chinaman or Indian shall be entitled to vote in any municipal election … ”
Those rights weren’t granted to Chinese-Canadians in Vancouver until 1949.
Families were split apart thanks in part to Vancouver lobbying the federal government to prevent Chinese from moving to Canada; people with Chinese ancestry couldn’t got a job with, or do business with, the city until 1952; Chinese-Canadians were restricted as to where they could live or run a business.
“The elected officials of the City of Vancouver used their role as leaders to sow the seeds of intolerance that emboldened individuals and groups to act upon anti-Asian discrimination,” Robertson said. “I rise today to acknowledge the darkness and suffering that anti-Chinese policies and legislation caused and to vow that never again will mayor and council stand aside in the face of racism.
“This is our responsibility in light of our dark history. This we owe today and tomorrow to those who suffered the effects of the legalized discrimination of yesterday.”
There were more than 600 people crammed, standing-room-only, into the hall inside the cultural centre for the special meeting, including Members of Parliament, the legislature, Vancouver school board and the Vancouver park board.
Among the 60 media passes that were issued were at least 20 to outlets from China, a spokeswoman said, and an overflow crowd watched proceedings outside on a big screen.
“This was not about pushing an apology out the door,” said Coun. Kerry Jang, who spearheaded the move for an official city apology. “Today was an important step for us as a Chinese community, to get some closure for a piece of history that should not be forgotten, otherwise it may in fact be repeated. That is the main message we take-away.”
Premier John Horgan released a note saying the apology was necessary and important in recognizing, remembering and condemning the historic discrimination faced by the Chinese community in Vancouver.
The legislature issued an apology of its own in 2014, citing 160 specific anti-Chinese policies enacted at the provincial level.
There is a saying that if you want an oak tree, the best time to have planted an acorn was 30 years ago. The second best time is today.
“We cannot undo historical injustices,” said Hilbert Yiu, president of the Chinese Benevolent Association. “Let’s make sure we do not repeat them.”

Some other media coverage:



https://www.thestar.com/vancouver/2018/04/22/breaks-my-heart-vancouver-apologizes-to-chinese-canadians-for-discrimination.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/city-of-vancouver-formal-apology-historical-discrimination-1.4630905


https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-vancouver-mayor-gregor-robertson-apologizes-to-chinese-community-for/


https://globalnews.ca/news/4160688/city-of-vancouver-issues-formal-apology-for-historical-discrimination-of-chinese-residents/


https://www.straight.com/news/1061956/photos-city-vancouver-delivers-official-apology-chinese-canadians-past-racial



It was a privilege to be a member of the City of Vancouver's Historical Discrimination Against Chinese Peoples advisory group that helped city staff with the research and consultation process over the last two years that led to the apology, and credit must go to Councilor Raymond Louie for serving as the Chair, and Wendy Au, Baldwin Wong, and other staff who did such a wonderful job with the consultation process and the report (linked here). 





I was also honoured to have had a hand in helping write the draft apology, and for being part of the group that produced the book that was given out to commemorate the day. Sarah Ling, Szu Shen, Emily Tso, Baldwin Wong, Fenella Sung, Wendy Au, John Atkin, George Ing, Hayne Wai helped create an amazing bilingual Chinese/English book in a short time, and credit goes to them as well as those such as Denise Fong and Joanne Poon who helped create and translate some of the text used from the Chinese Canadian Stories web portal.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Text of the City of Vancouver's Apology for Anti-Chinese Discrimination




The following apology to the Chinese
community was issued by City of Vancouver
Mayor Gregor Robertson on April 22, 2018 during a
Special Council Meeting:

The living legacies of the injustices against Chinese
people in Vancouver still resonate with us today. They
echo in our city, in our collective histories, and in
the stories of our elders. After many years of work
by community advocates, the Advisory Group on
Historical Discrimination Against Chinese People,
and City of Vancouver staff, to bring to light the
scope of this systemic discrimination, I rise today to
acknowledge and address a dark and difficult period
of our past.

For the first half of the City of Vancouver’s history,
racial prejudice and discrimination against our
Chinese-Canadian residents was commonplace.
And yet for those sixty years, rather than standing
up against the injustice of racism, many of our
elected officials including mayors and councillors
used the legal power of the City to enact and
expand laws targeting Chinese residents. Through
Council motions and through the everyday effects
of by-laws and licenses and legalized racism, the
Chinese community of Vancouver suffered the
awful consequences of lawful discrimination. I rise
today as the Mayor of Vancouver to recognize and
to take responsibility for the suffering and indignity
endured because of this historical injustice.

The depth and breadth of the actions for which we
apologize today are deep:

From the first moments of our incorporation
as a City, on April 6, 1886, Vancouver took away
the legal right for the Chinese community to
vote. The minutes of the first Council meeting
had the following: “No Chinaman or Indian
shall be entitled to vote in any municipal
election for the election of a Mayor or
Alderman.” Full voting rights, a cornerstone of
our democracy, were not granted to Chinese-
Canadians in Vancouver until 1949.

The City of Vancouver lobbied the Federal
government to pass racially discriminatory
immigration policies, including the Chinese
Immigration Act in 1923 which formally
excluded Chinese people from immigrating
to Canada. For the next 25 years, fewer
than 100 Chinese immigrants were legally
allowed to enter Canada, splintering families
and creating unspeakable suffering within
Vancouver’s Chinese community.

Through its contracts and grants, the City
of Vancouver excluded people of Chinese
heritage from being employed by the city or by
those doing business with the city. No Chinese
person was employed by the City of Vancouver
until 1952.

• Numerous measures were taken to segregate
the areas where Chinese residents were able
to live and to earn a livelihood. City by-laws
restricted where Chinese people could own and
run businesses. Housing covenants were used
to prohibit Chinese residents from purchasing
property. Although these clauses are no
longer legally enforceable, many remain even
today on legal titles, a reminder of how racial
segregation in housing and business shaped
our city’s neighbourhoods and communities.
The elected officials of the City of Vancouver used
their role as leaders to sow the seeds of intolerance
that emboldened individuals and groups to act
upon anti-Asian discrimination. Whether by
explicitly encouraging anti-Chinese sentiments,
or by silently allowing racial hatred and violence to
continue, too many of our predecessors stood by
rather than stood up to racism.

I rise today to recognize and repudiate how such
acts stigmatized and dehumanized the Chinese
Canadian community of Vancouver. I rise today
to formally apologize to the Chinese community
in Vancouver and to all Canadians of Chinese
ancestry for the discriminatory legislation directed
against Chinese people in Vancouver by its elected
officials and civil servants from 1886 to 1949. On
this day, on behalf of City Council and the City
of Vancouver, I sincerely apologize for these past
injustices and their cruel effects on individuals and
their families, and commit to ensuring that similar
unjust practices are never again allowed to fall on
any group or community.

I rise today to acknowledge the darkness and
suffering that anti-Chinese policies and legislation
caused, and to vow that never again will Mayor
and Council stand aside in the face of racism.
We will stand up to those who would use racial
discrimination to divide us, and we vow each and
every day to challenge and combat intolerance,
and to be vigilant against the rise of prejudice
and discrimination. This is our responsibility in
light of our dark history. This we owe today and
tomorrow to those who suffered the effects of the
legalized discrimination of yesterday. This debt of
shame incurred in our past we pay forward so that
no citizen of Vancouver will ever suffer again the
indignity of racism and prejudice.

Today, Vancouver is a diverse city with a global
reputation for celebrating our cultural differences.
Our city’s reputation is not merely symbolic; it
lives each day in the deeds of individual citizens
and civic employees who demonstrate principles of
equity and fairness, who treat their fellow citizens,
including our newest arrivals, with respect and
acceptance. The City of Vancouver owes much
to the Chinese community and to all immigrant
communities. Along with our First Nations
and urban Aboriginal communities, many have
unfairly had to struggle to overcome racism and
discrimination, and through their actions have
made our society more just and fair.

The struggle to make Vancouver an inclusive,
resilient and vibrant city will continue. We
recognize that even during the darkest days of
racial discrimination and prejudice, there were
those brave enough to stand up against injustice.
Through such every day acts of firmness and
resolve, our City has become a better place, and
will continue to become a better place for all of our
citizens.

Let us all rise in defense of the principles of equity,
inclusion, and equal access for which we stand
today and in all the days to come.”


Read in Cantonese and Sze Yup (四邑) dialect by 
former City Councilors Bill Yee and Maggie Ip:


哥華市長 Gregor Robertson 先生於
2018 年 4 月 22 日的市議會特別會議
正式向華裔居民道歉,全文如下:
「在溫哥華歷史中,華裔居民曾面對種種的不
公義;其影響之深,時至今日仍在我們的城
市、我們的共同歷史,以及長者的故事中引起
迴響。社區領袖、歧視華裔居民政策歷史顧問
委員會,以及市政府職員花了多年時間研究這
種系統性歧視,並指出其範圍之廣。本人今日
在此,正式承認溫哥華市過去一段黑暗及艱難
月並就此發言。
在本市前半段的歷史中,華裔居民受到種族偏
見及歧視比比皆是。然而在該六十多年中,許
多我們的民選官員包括市長及市議員等,不但
沒有發聲反對由種族主義造成的不公義,反而
利用市府的法定權力去制訂及擴充針對華人的
歧視性法例。因為市議會的這些動議、以及透
過附例、牌照等的執法權力,令種族歧視政策
在法制保護下日益猖獗,使華裔居民蒙受極大
傷害。今日我以溫哥華市長的身份發言,就過
往的不公義對華裔居民造成的苦難以及喪失的
尊嚴表示歉意和承擔責任。
今日我們必須為此而道歉的歧視行為,影響既
深又廣:
• 溫哥華在1886年4月6日正式建市後隨即剝奪
了華人的合法投票權:「華人或印第安人
均沒有資格在任何市選中投票選出市長或
市議員」。華裔居民直至1949年才獲得被視
為民主基石的全面投票權。
• 溫市府游聯邦政府通過充滿種族歧視的
移民政策,包括於1923年通過的《排華法》
,正式將華人拒於加國門外。在隨後的25
年間,獲准合法進入加國的華裔移民不足
100人,此舉除了拆散無數家庭之外,亦為
溫哥華的華裔社群帶來無法形容的痛苦。
• 溫市府透過合約和撥款,令華裔居民無法
受僱於市府或其他與市府有生意往來的人
士。這情況一直延續至1952年,才首次有華
人受僱於市府。
• 市府採取了各種措施,將華裔居民能
住及謀生的地方加以隔離。市府的附例亦
規定了華人只可以在某些地方擁有及經營
生意,房屋契約亦被用來禁止華裔居民購
買房地。雖然這些規條今天已不能被合
法執行,但不少類似條文仍然可以在地契
上找到,這提醒了我們:居住及營商方面
的種族隔離政策對本市整體社群造成了多
深遠的影響。
溫市的民選官員利用他們作為領袖的身份散播
歧視的種子,令其他個人及族群更明目張膽
地提倡及進行反亞裔的種族歧視行為。無論是
公開鼓勵反華情緒或對種族仇恨與暴力保持緘
默,我們有太多的前任民選官員對於種族主義
只是視若無睹,而不是發聲加以譴責。
本人今日承認此等行為侮辱及鄙視溫哥華華裔
社群,我也發言反對這些行為。就溫市民選官
員及公務員在1886至1949年間制訂針對本市華
裔居民的歧視法例,本人今日向溫哥華的華裔
社群及所有華裔加拿大人正式道歉;對那些曾
經因合法歧視蒙受苦難的華裔居民及家庭,本
人今日謹代表市議會及市府誠懇表達歉意,並
致力確保類似的不公義行徑永遠不容發生在任
何一個族群或社群身上。
本人今日承認當年的排華裔政策和法例所導致
的陰暗與傷痛,我立誓市長與市議員在面對種
族歧視時永遠不會再袖手旁觀,而會挺身對抗
那些企圖用種族歧視分隔我們的人,並立誓每
日每天都對歧視行為展開挑戰和對抗,以及時
刻警醒以防止偏見與歧視滋長。由於這段黑暗
的歷史,我們有義務背起這光明正大的責任,
我們今日、明日及未來都該為那些過去曾受合
法歧視影響的人承擔責任,同時亦須就這筆過
去所欠的羞辱之債作出行動,才能使溫哥華居
民永遠不再因種族主義和歧視而受屈辱。
今日的溫哥華是個多元的城市,我們以擁護多
元文化而譽滿全球。我們得此名聲並非只是象
徵性的,多元文化活於每個市民及每名奉行平
等與公平原則的市府職員的每天行事之中,他
們以尊重及接納的態度對待包括新移民在
大眾市民。溫哥華市對華裔社群及其他移民族
群有所虧欠,他們與原住民族及都市的原住民
社群一樣,不少都要經歷一番掙扎才能戰勝種
族主義和歧視,然而他們的抗爭行動使得我們
的社會更加公平與公義。
我們將持續努力,將溫哥華發展成一個包
容、堅忍及充滿動力的城市。我們知道在種
族歧視及偏見充斥最黑暗的歲月裡,仍然有
人勇敢挺身對抗不公不義。當人們以每天的
行動展示出堅持和決心時,我們的城市就會
變成一個更美好的地方,並且持續不斷變
好,以至造福所有居民。
讓我們一同起立,致力維護公平、包容及獲
得平等服務的原則,我們今天維護,將來同
樣推崇。