Image Credit: Cannery workers with a salmon cutting machine, ca. 1913. BCA E-02994. Todd, F. Dundas.

Chinese Historical Wrongs Legacy Initiatives

About the Project

Chinese Canadian communities endured decades of systematic racial discrimination in BC and Canada. In 2014, a formal apology was delivered on behalf of all members of the BC legislative assembly to Chinese Canadians for historical wrongs committed by past provincial governments. Per community recommendations, the Province of BC has led the Chinese Historical Wrongs Legacy Initiatives to describe, understand and redress these past wrongs.

The Royal BC Museum, in partnership with the Ministry of International Trade and Ministry Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism, has addressed the Chinese Historical Wrongs Legacy Initiatives through four projects to share Chinese Canadian stories in BC with a broader audience and to support the BC Social Studies curriculum.

Online Learning

Lion's head. RBCM 2013.10.1

The Royal BC Museum’s Learning Portal provides teachers and learners with resources based on the Museum and Archives’ collections of artifacts, archival images and other materials. The Learning Portal now features two sets of learning resources concerned with Chinese Canadian experiences: Early Chinese Canadian Experiences in British Columbia and Acknowledging Past Wrongs.

Early Chinese Canadian Experiences in British Columbia identifies the gold rush of 1858 as the spark for the first major migration of Chinese people to BC; the article provides an overview of some of the physical, social and legal challenges that they overcame. Acknowledging Past Wrongs talks in more detail about the institutional discrimination faced by Chinese Canadians over the years, and how understanding the past can pave the way for reconciliation.

On-site Learning

Outreach Kit

During the development of the Gold Rush! feature exhibition in 2015, the Royal BC Museum created two on-site learning resources for teachers who want to explore the exhibition’s Chinese Canadian stories. These resources are available in French and English.

The object-based learning program has now been repurposed into a docent-guided program called a Trailhead Tour in the permanent gallery. In this tour, docents meet school groups and invite them to look for Chinese Canadian history in our Modern History gallery. They are then given images of four Chinese Canadian objects, led through a discussion about the significance of each object and challenged to write a text label and find a place in the museum to add these stories.

In addition, in partnership with Open School BC, the Royal BC Museum also developed The Writing on the Wall Outreach Kits, available at the Royal BC Museums and five other museums for school use.

Testimonials of the Royal BC Museum Outreach Kits:

“Using primary sources and artifacts was very powerful. It was also great to have the video and listen to the authentic voice explain the process.”

“It was excellent as a resource to learn about Chinese Canadian history in Canada. Thank you so much for providing us with the opportunity.

Digital Conversion Project

Ticket for passage on the ship 'Maria'. BCA K/EA/C43/B36F01N005

The Royal BC Museum has selected and digitized important Chinese Canadian collections in the BC Archives and Modern History Collections to provide online access and to support learning and outreach initiatives. To date the Royal BC Museum has digitized more than 378 artifacts and approximately 12,692 pages of archival materials.

In partnership with Open School BC, a portion of the digitized collections—including 44 images of 31 objects, 87 digitized archival pages from 15 accessions, two audio files and 162 archival images—has been used to develop educational materials to support the BC Social Studies curriculum.


Tradition in Felicities Exhibition

British Columbia’s unique history is partly shaped by its position as the gateway between Asia Pacific and Canada. This is the province where most early Asian-Pacific immigrants to Canada landed and settled in the country’s early years. The Royal BC Museum explored and shared the experiences of early Chinese migrants in three exhibitions, presented in partnership with the Ministry of International Trade and Ministry Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism:

Gold Rush! El Dorado in British Columbia

The Royal BC Museum, May–October 2015
Canadian Museum of History, Ottawa, ON, April–December 2016

Guangzhou to British Columbia: The Chinese Canadian Experience 1858–1958

Guangzhou Metro Yuexiu Station, October 28–November 28, 2015 (find out more here)

Gold Mountain Dream! Bravely Venture into the Fraser Valley

Guangdong Museum of Chinese Nationals Residing Abroad, Guangzhou, China, November 5–December 20, 2015. (find out more here)
Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver, Vancouver, Canada, March 12–April 11, 2016
Jiangmen Museum, Jiangmen, China January 21–March 20, 2016
Museum of Xinhui District, Jiangmen, China, April 1–May 15, 2016
Musuem of Taishan District, Jiangmen, China, May 16–June 30, 2016
Kaiping Museum, Kaiping, China, July 1–August 15, 2016
Enping Museum, Enping, China, August 16–September 30, 2016
Heshan Museum, Heshan, China, October 1–November 15, 2016
Wuyi University, Jiangmen, China, November 16–December 30, 2016

In addition, to help the public learn more about the Chinese Historical Wrongs Legacy Initiatives, the Royal BC Museum partnered with the Ministry of International Trade to reveal the Legacy Initiatives’ behind-the-scenes stories in a special issue of the Royal BC Museum’s online magazine Curious, available in English, simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese.

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