Chinese-Canadian veterans pass torch to a new generation

November 11, 2017

By Daisy Xiong, Richmond News |

A group of young immigrants and international students from Richmond visited Vancouver’s Chinese-Canadian Military Museum last Sunday. They came out thankful for modern life and democratic rights.

Organized by Wendy Yuan, member of the Richmond Intercultural Advisory Committee, the dozen or so young Richmond residents also attended a Remembrance Day ceremony, where they met with WWII veterans.

“It’s about teaching the young people to understand what the country stands for and what our ancestors did for us,” said Yuan, whose husband’s family paid the Chinese head tax when first coming to Canada, during a time when Chinese immigrants were not recognized as Canadian citizens.

“A lot of young people take the life they live and the rights they have today for granted. They don’t know that they can enjoy it because their ancestors fought hard for it,” said Yuan.

“I hope through this visit, they will have an understanding of our ancestors’ contributions. The younger generation need to take over the torch and carry on what they fought for.”

Veterans took the young group for a tour of the exhibitions and explained the stories behind the pictures and displays.

The group also joined an annual ceremony with more than 100 people in attendance, including Richmond’s 100-year-old WWII veteran Thomas Wong, who was the first Chinese Canadian enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

During the ceremony, staff shared three stories of Chinese-Canadian soldiers who never made it home, including Kuon Louie, son of the founder of H.Y. Louie Co. Limited, who served in the air force and died in a bomb run.

“They served the country in the hope that they will be recognized by it. But till they died for Canada, they were still not considered as a Canadian,” said Catherine Clement, curator of the museum.

“The Chinese soldiers believed that if they proved they were willing to fight and die for this country, the country would recognize them in the end.”

In 1947, two years after the war ended, Chinese people were recognized as citizens and granted the right to vote.

“So for Chinese-Canadians, winning the war was a ‘double victory,’” she added.

“It’s really powerful,” said Sean Qu, who immigrated to Richmond 10 years ago from China.

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