June 16, 2023

New Book Published: 1923: Challenging Racisms Past and Present.

CANADA-CHINA FOCUS, in partnership with the Stop Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Advocacy Group, is pleased to announce the release of a new learning resource, 1923: Challenging Racisms Past and Present.

Authored by Denise Fong, John Endo Greenaway, Fran Morrison, John Price, Carmen Rodriguez de France, Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra, Timothy J. Stanley, this 60-page booklet tracks the upsurge and assertiveness among Indigenous, Black and and Asian Canadian communities as well as the nascent labour movement in the decade before the 1923Chinese Exclusion Act.

Chronicling how a racist backlash arose in response to this militancy, 1923 provides a blow-by-blow account of the struggle against this racist piece of legislation as well as other attacks that marked the beginning of two hard decades in Canada.

“An Act Respecting Chinese Immigration” came into effect on July 1, 1923, prohibiting the arrival of newcomers from China. It forced all people of Chinese heritage, including the Canadian-born, to register with the federal government, or be subject to deportation.

Co-author Dr. Timothy J. Stanley recalls: “Annie Fong, my mother, was 8 years old when she had to register under the Exclusion Act. She was born and raised in Montreal where she lived to the age of 100 and kept the certificate with her for her entire life.” (see Annie Fong’s certificate, p. 46).

Federal and provincial governments also introduced measures at the time that further restricted immigration from Japan, made attendance in residential schools compulsory, and dispatched the RCMP against the Six Nations of Grand River.

Regarding this era, co-author Dr. Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra: “These were hard years, but communities remained sites of resistance, drawing on the experience of our ancestors.”

As a history of the present, the authors of 1923 suggest a similar backlash may be in the works, propelled by white nationalism, conservative “anti-woke’ campaigns, escalating environmental racism, and recurrent Sinophobia and Islamophobia.