In a move the city says will reaffirm its position as a City of Reconciliation, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson will deliver a formal apology for past discrimination against residents of Chinese descent next month.
Taking place on April 22 in the city’s historic Chinatown neighbourhood, the apology will “acknowledge the wrongdoings of past legislation, regulations and policies of previous Vancouver City Councils,” according to a statement from the city.
The moment itself will take place at 2 pm at the Chinese Cultural Centre at 50 East Pender Street.
It will be part of of the larger Chinatown Culture Day event, which is taking place on the same day, from 1 pm to 4 pm.
“This is an important day for Council to come together in recognition of the historic discrimination that took place against Chinese residents,” said Robertson.
“In order to move forward, we must first acknowledge the harm that was committed and how this unfortunate chapter in Vancouver’s history continues to impact the lives of Chinese Canadians.”
The apology will be read in both English and Chinese.
The English version will be read by Robertson, while Chinese version will be read by former City Councillors Bill Yee and Maggie Ip.
There will also be three community speakers representing voices from the past, present and future.
These speakers include a war veteran who grew up in Vancouver; the President of the Chinese Benevolent Association which has been established for over a century to help Vancouver’s Chinese population; and a young Vancouverite of Chinese descent speaking to her vision for a “vibrant” Chinese community.
The apology itself has been crafted with the guidance of an advisory group made up of Chinese and non-Chinese “experts and community leaders,” the city said.
The city’s apology follows a similar one that the BC government made in 2014.
During that apology, then-Premier Christy Clark said while the governments which passed the laws and policies “acted in a manner that was lawful at the time, today this racist discrimination is seen by British Columbians – represented by all members of the legislative assembly – as unacceptable and intolerable.”