Essay on Chinese Head-Tax: a Discriminatory Piece of Legislation

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Pages: 8

Canada is a country built on immigration, mainly British at first, but from all over the world afterwards. Chinese immigration to Canada dates back to the period of the gold rush when they were recruited to mine. In the 1880's, the Chinese population increased after Canada joined the confederation and extra labour was required to build a cross-country railway. Due to the poor economy in China, many Chinese were willing to migrate and work for low wages. The Canadian government seized this opportunity and allowed the companies working on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to import Chinese immigrants. With a drive for completion a significant number of Chinese were recruited. In order to control this increase in immigration, the …show more content…
This action by the government pleased the public and also resulted in fewer Chinese people entering Canada. The head tax put a financial burden on all Chinese who migrated to Canada, as after paying the head-tax, most were left broke or in debt. Companies took this opportunity to exploit their labour as they had no choice but to work in order to make enough money to eat, to clothe themselves, and to support their family (Bright ,13). As a result of the exploitations, Chinese did not make enough money to save, or to afford paying the head-tax for the rest of their family. This led to a population of mostly married Chinese men in Canada, as Wing, a Chinese immigrant in 1923 affirmed "When I came there were 3000 Chinese and only a few were women". Canadians believed this was due to the invalidation myth that Chinese weren't working hard enough to make money and bring their family. Canada is a country based on family values, and without a family, it was almost impossible for Chinese to assimilate. Canadians blamed Chinese for this as well, and tried to justify the restrictions put on them by labelling them as not being able to assimilate, however, it was not the fault of the Chinese. Canadians were the ones who put the restrictions on the Chinese and prevented them from being unified with their families; they were not allowing them to