Gordie Quan, a local veteran who served in the Second World War shared his experiences with guests at the Chinese Canadian Museum on Remembrance Day.
Quan, who is a Chinese Canadian, spoke about some of the challenges he faced early in his life, at a time when Chinese people were not allowed to serve in the forces and had limited rights at home due to the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act.
This act is commonly referred to as the Chinese Exclusion Act and it essentially banned Chinese immigrants from entering the country. During its 24-year tenure, the act reduced the number of Chinese immigrants who were able to enter Canada to fewer than 100 people.
He said that while everyone was saying young men should join up to serve in the war, Chinese Canadians were still banned from service.
However, when central Europe was in need of assistance, Chinese people were permitted to join and he figured one way to fight for Chinese people in Canada would be to fight for everyone.
“In ‘43, at that time in central Europe, they required help. So that’s why we were allowed to join up, that’s how I did it … and when we come back we fight for the rights for the Chinese people in Canada.”
Like many in his generation, at the young age of 18 when most young people today are leaving for college, he left for war.
Quan said the most important part of Remembrance Day is acknowledging that people have given the ultimate sacrifice and honouring their memory.
The Remembrance Day special display was curated by the Victoria Chinatown Museum Society and displayed in the Chinese Canadian Museum.
For those interested in visiting the museum, admission is by donation. It is open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday. For more information on current exhibits visit chinesecanadianmuseum.ca.
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