The Chinese and British Columbian History

Looking around, it is easy to see that there is a large Chinese influence on the towns of Canada, mainly BC. It is interesting to note that what appears now as a very cohesive and multicultural population in Canada, it was not always so. Canada too, was at once a very racist country that used immigrants for their own good and prohibited the entry to their country when laborers were not needed. The Chinese were manipulated as cheap labour for centuries in Canada until only recently, where their rights and freedoms became acknowledged by the government and civilians.

Though not many Chinese have immigrated to Canada before the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, there were recorded travels between China and Canada before then. The first recorded visits by the Chinese to BC was in 1788 when 30 – 50 Chinese ship builders were employed to build a ship at Nootka Sound (on the western side of Vancouver Island).

The first large rush of Chinese immigrants came in 1858 to Vancouver Island from California during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. When these Chinese immigrated from California, it also sparked much immigration from China. While mining for gold, the Chinese turned out to have techniques and knowledge that were better than others. Even when the gold rush ended, the Chinese stayed there longer than others. At Barkerville, a large Gold Rush town, over half the population of the town was estimated to be Chinese (which is still amazing compared to the Asian-oriented cities of today).

After the Gold Rush, the next large rise in the immigration of Chinese people was during the building of the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) in British Columbia. BC Politicians originally pushed for an immigration program from the British Isles to provide laborers for the railway, but John A. Macdonald (Canada’s first Prime Minister) insisted on employing the Chinese to build the railway to cut costs. In the Parliament in 1882, he said “It is simply a question of alternatives: either you must have this labour or you can’t have the railway.

Originally, Chinese laborers were enlisted from California. However, they soon left for the Gold Rush. Andrew Onderdonk, the CPR construction contractor, signed several agreements with contractors in Guangdong province, Taiwan and Chinese companies in Victoria. This brought in over 5000 Chinese workers by ship from China. This job, however, was full of dangers and difficulty. By the end of 1881, over 1 year after Odnerdock enlisted Chinese workers, the number of workers fell from 5000 to under 1500. These Chinese left for good reasons too: the work was dangerous, the Gold Rush was occurring at this time, and they were paid very poorly. Their pay was only $1, which is less than a third of what white, black or native workers would be getting doing the same job. The living conditions were quite poor too. Along with Chinese railway workers in Ontario and the Prairies, they lived in canvas tents that did not provide adequate protection from the weather and falling rocks. All Chinese railway workers would live in these, while foremen, shift bosses and railway men from the UK slept in sleeping cars and railway-built houses.

From: Horizons - Canada Moves West

From: Horizons - Canada Moves West (Pg. 206)

After the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed, many Chinese were left without work. Canadian citizens felt that the Chinese were taking away their work. To prevent further immigration from China, the Government implemented The Chinese Immigration Act, 1885. This “Head Tax” charged $50 on any Chinese coming into Canada. While $50 was a large sum of money at the time, it did not completely deter all Chinese immigration to Canada. The Chinese Immigration Act, 1900 raised the fee to $100 per person, and then later The Chinese Immigration Act, 1903 further increased it to $500, which would be equivalent to around $8000 (in 2003) per person. At this time, it would be the cost of a house in Canada or two years’ salary in China. The Chinese Immigration Act, 1923 (known as the Chinese Exclusion Act) created an outright ban on all Chinese immigrants except for merchants, diplomats, students and “special circumstances” cases. This act was created due to a post-war recession. It was the first and only ban that excluded explicitly on the basis of race in Canada. The Chinese who immigrated before 1923 were required to register with authorities. Due to this act, the Chinese population went from 46 500 in 1931 to 32 500 in 1951. These acts also separated the Chinese families. In most cases, the men would go to Canada and save money to get the rest of their family to immigrate to Canada. Due to the cost of immigration, saving up this money while sending money back to support your family was a very difficult thing to do. The act was repealed in 1947.

In 1980, there was a growing movement in Canada demanding payment and apology for the inequality and injustice against the Chinese during the Immigration Act. Though there was support, this apology and payment did not come until more recently. In January, 2006, former-Prime Minister Paul Martin issued a personal apology on a Chinese-language radio program. In June later that year, recently elected Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a formal apology in Parliament. He said payments of $20 000 would go out as repayment of the head tax.

The end.


In-Depth Project – Entry #8

Hmm… The last in-depth blog post already. It seems like just yesterday I picked up the knife for the first time and made my first cut. I’ve begun working on my final project, a cormorant. I’ve handed my wood off to my mentor, who will cut it for me due to some unavoidable circumstances. I plan to start carving during the middle of next week. I don’t imagine it will take too long, though I must make sure I keep a rigid schedule for carving. The adventure trip, a 5 day camping trip for Talons, will also be a hurdle, but I’ll try my best to plan around it.

My final presentation so far looks like this: I will display all my projects, all the tools, along with a screen playing a video which will contain photographs of each stage in the carving of the final project (so viewers will be able to see the evolution of the piece of wood into what I hope to be a bird).

So… is this it? Probably not. I still am not pleased with the cat and I want to sand it more. As promised, pictures will be up soon. Sanding really is annoying. You do too much on one side, then you work on the other and eventually you end up with an uneven and small piece of wood.

Poet Project: Gary Numan – Introduction

A more recent photograph

For English class, we have been assigned the task of studying a poet who interests you in some way. I studied Vanessa Carlton last year, and while that was a ton of fun, I decided to go in a different direction. I’ve come to the conclusion of studying the artist Gary Numan.

A short introduction: Gary Numan was (and still is) a revolutionary composer, singer and musician. He is a pioneer of ‘popular’ electronic music, and is father of 2 chart topping singles “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” and “Cars“, both from 1979. He has over 20 albums released, and potentially more on the way as he still has years left in his career. His style was incredibly bizarre at the time, but modern bands, such as the Nine Inch Nails, have admitted to being influenced by Numan. Artists, such as Marilyn Manson and the Foo Fighters have covered his songs too. Originally, he was frontman for the band Tubeway Army but quickly moved on to performing under his own name.

I chose Gary Numan not because I’m a huge fan of his, because I’m not. I particularly don’t enjoy his later work that was darker, more gothic rock, which contrasts greatly with the synthesizer and electronic sounds from the late 70’s and 80’s. But this study is on poetry (and language), not music, and I respect the work he has put into writing all of these lyrics throughout his career. Numan had mentioned in an interview that he was a bit obsessive with his lyrics, trying to make it sound perfect. I find that this will be an interesting study due to the contrast between his work and Vanessa Carlton’s songs. While Carlton had very romantic lyrics, Numan’s lyrics are darker, reflecting his early life filled with paranoia and emotional issues.

Until next time, I guess…

In-Depth Project – Entry #7

Wow, a quick 2 weeks. I’ve been working on the feet and head of the cat. It still hasn’t been sanded and there are some edges to smoothen, so I will hold off on the pictures until I am done that.

The main progress I have made this week was in the selection of my new (and maybe final) project for in-depth. I have decided to carve a cormorant. I have my wood, the “blueprints”, and an eager knife to begin carving. But because I’m starting with a block of wood, I must cut it with a band saw to make it more manageable (or it’ll take forever.) To make sure I’m cutting away the right pieces, I have to trace on the shape of the carving with the help of the “blueprints”. Once I get both profiles (side and front/back), I can cut it. Well, I can’t. My mentor informed me that the place where we initially planned to do the cutting doesn’t allow me to do it. Instead, my mentor will have to do it for me. But I’ve used a band saw before so this is not a lost experience for me.

Once I start carving, I’ll have to decide on a few details. Firstly, I have to decide how I want to do the eye of the bird. I could drill a hole with a drill and leave it blank, I can put a dark or light piece of wood in the hole to make the eye stand out, I can put in a glass eye, or instead of drilling it, I can carve around it and make it go outwards (in a convex shape) instead of a concave shape. So many choices…

I also have to decide on how I want to finish it. I’m carving with a softer, light wood, so I could either make it darker or keep it the way it is. But that is a decision for when I finish the bird and see how it all looks.

That is all for now. Pictures will be up in a future blog post of the finished cat along with the finished tracing of the design on the wood. I plan to document the carving of the final project with many, many, many photographs.

Op-Ed:*No creative title*

Jordan (and Louise, I guess), your blog post dealt a lot around the article which discusses the funding priorities of the government. Though these facts are true, it is also important to take into account others, and perhaps why the government has chosen to spend your money this way. The report written by the Assembly of First Nations clearly states that an average non-native Canadian receives two and a half times more funding from the government compared to the Natives’ funding. Another report from the BC First Nations Economic Development Action Plan states that the average non-native Canadian population also has a two and a half times higher graduation rate than the average Native population. This correlation means that if one graduates from either secondary school or get some type of post-secondary education which will give then a greater chance of getting an above average income, the more in return they will receive from the government in terms of social services, health care, and other funding.

Let’s make an example with 2 men (or 2 women, if you want). A man, native or not, who studies hard in their high school years and graduates from university or another post-secondary educational program will have better odds at getting a high paying job. This man would pay taxes, maybe more than the average income citizen because of his income. The more he pays in taxes, the more he should receive back from the government in the form of services, health care and such. Another man, native or not, who doesn’t graduate high school has a lesser opportunity to obtain a high paying job. This man earns very little money each year and pays less in terms of taxes than the other post-secondary educated person. The lower income man will pay less tax, but also in turn receive less from the government in dollar value (lower health care, less services, etc.).

The government rewards those who work hard in life. Those who don’t work hard should not have equal or greater assets in life from their government than the ones who do. The higher income man in this example would have no reason to pay high tax and live in a country where a portion of his hard earned dollars are going to people who contribute nothing towards his own life.

Despite what the article would make you think about how the lower income person got into the position they are in (abuse, drugs, etc.), the ultimate decision of how they want to live and what they want to do in life is up to them. If they do not want to take hold of their opportunities and succeed in life, how is an average citizen working hard in their daily life responsible for this lack of interest?

The real problem with the situation the Natives’ are in is not because hundreds of years ago some white men on a boat came to this giant island, or because we do not pour all of our income into their lives so they can be comfortable. The problem is that there seems to be no urgency on both sides of the table to get them out of the situation they are in.

Let’s face the facts: we’ve identified the problem, but it’s time to do something. If they aren’t ready to deal with the problem and wish to continue to place the blame on others, then they should stop complaining. As tax-paying, hardworking citizens, do we really want to pour our money, which could go towards our own needs, into this cause which, as of now, shows no positive result?

In-Depth Project – Entry #6

Entry number 6 is going to be similar to number 5. I’ve been carving at the cat (pictures below) and it’s progressing. Because I don’t have a  model to go off of, I’ve held off on the head and the feet, since I don’t really know what to do there. All I know is that it’s somewhat complicated and hard to do from memory.

Lets do some pictures…. As always, click for high quality.

How it looks so far

Side view

Side view

As you may be able to see from the above image, I made the tail follow the grain. I’m using cypress wood and the piece I have is very evenly split in half with red-brown and pale yellow colour. It’s very interesting, and helpful as it provides me an easy center line. When finished, it’ll look very unique.

Another view

Those are all the pictures I have for now. I will be meeting with my mentor early next week so I can see where I’m at with the carving (as he has the model) and maybe we’ll discuss more about a potential final project. I’m also trying to gather ideas about what I should do for a final presentation. I’m thinking I’ll just do a sort of “showcase” of all the things I’ve done in these months and to show the progress. No real creative ideas at the moment for me.

That’s it for entry number 6. Hopefully I’ll get one up next week with updated photos of the cat.

In-Depth Project – Entry #5

Entry #5 is going to be a smaller one. I haven’t had alot of chances to sit down and get some carving done. Doing things 10minutes a time is a bad idea, because you never really know where you finished and where you need to keep working on. I’ve started to finish up the second bird I’ve done by sanding it. I haven’t finished, as there are still bumpy parts on the beak.

My third project is a cat. Its a tall cat. But the problem I’m having with this is that I have to do it through memory. Because my mentor needed his model for his class, I don’t have it available to use as a visual aid. I’m a bit hesitant each cut I make, because I’m afraid I’ll screw it up (even though I know its just practice). But, the more I think of it, this is a good learning opportunity. It tests my abilities to make changes and re-develop the design through each mistake. And it helps me visualize the finished product through the pieces of wood that have yet to be cut. Progress has been slow, as my knife is getting dull and the wood I’m working with feels alot harder than what I’ve been using before.

I’ve concluded roughly what I’m going to be doing as a final project. My mentor showed me many different outlines for possible projects, and I really liked some of the designs with birds. I haven’t pinned down exactly what I’m doing, but I have an idea. I don’t plan on starting it right away, but I’m thinking about how I want to do it and what I want it to look like.

Side note: Don’t try watching hockey on TV and wood carve at the same time. Doesn’t work. My thumb learned the lesson the hard way.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Novel Reflection (*)

    For the past couple of weeks, our English class consisted of reading, book discussions and blogging. And that was an enjoyable change from sentence diagramming. This was the first book I actually read in a while, and it was a fun read. But I must say that while To Kill a Mockingbird is entertaining, I don’t see it having as large of a lesson to teach us as some teachers claim. The topics of racism, peace and viewing-things-from-another’s-point-of-view have been taught to us since we entered the public education system, and often before that at home also. It is a great piece of English (and American) literature, both well-written and meaningful. I won’t argue with that, or I’ll be stupid. I just feel that sometimes, we need to let things go, and look forward, instead of behind.

The book showed lots of literary techniques including ones that were likely too embedded in the story for me to pick up. The language used and wording helped keep it an enjoyable read, and the story helped too. It’s well-written, insightful, has great characters who teach us basic human lessons about feelings and emotions. But other than the words on the paper, I see nothing else. Where some novels provide us with insight on society, the world, or our personal issues that were previously undiscovered, To Kill a Mockingbird is dated. The issues present in the book no longer applies to most of the world, and definitely not suburban Vancouver. And it’s not the book’s fault: it was first published in 1960. Because it is that ‘old’, millions of teenagers and adults alike have read it, dissected it and posted insightful essays online about it. Must we learn the same lesson that everybody else has already learned? Keep in mind that one of the main goals of our TALONS program is to eliminate repetition from our education so our time is better spent. There are tons of relevant and well-written books around. People need to let go of the past. We need to be looking forward in both education and reading, instead of being stuck in the past.

What can I say about To Kill a Mockingbird? It’s a great piece of literature. But half a century after it’s publication date, it’s time for us to let it go. Keep it around, that’s for sure. I don’t support the throwing away of classic literature. But why should 21st century classrooms keep this around? Even books written in the 90’s are somewhat irrelevant nowadays. Our classrooms need more Douglas Coupland-like authors: local, well-written, relatable to our generation and in our century. Students are the leaders of tomorrow, and why would you want your leaders to be stuck in the past?

These words are only my opinion. You may feel To Kill a Mockingbird is the greatest, most impressive book ever to be written. Ever. Or you may side with me, and agree that this book, though entertaining and well-written, is out-dated, irrelevant and over taught. I won’t argue that people shouldn’t read it. Lets just say that our education system shouldn’t be stuck in the past when we, the students, are the ones that are the future.

Microsoft Excel Formulas and Tips (*)

Microsoft Excel is more than a spreadsheet processor. There are limitless things you can do with Excel. This program is important for managing your money, timetables and life in general. Sadly, not many people use Excel, and the ones who do don’t know the full potential of the program. In my opinion, and numerous other computer teachers, the most important skill you can have in Excel is learning some basic “formulas”. Some may find the following boring. I, however, find it very interesting and useful once you learn the skills.

Excel is more than inputting numbers and words into each cell. It can count and add/subtract/multiply/divide anything for you. You do this by typing in formulas. Anything with “=” in the beginning is called a ‘formula’.

There are many ways of adding 2 numbers together. This is the most useful one. Say we want to add 3 and 5 together. Click any cell, and type in (without the quotation marks) “=sum(3,5)” and press enter. And up comes 8.

Excel 1

If you happen to have 2 or more numbers already on the page, you can input “=sum(*click and drag to highlight all the cells*)”. When you highlight the cells, it’ll input something like D1:F4.

Excel 2

Need to put in the date of today? Type “=today()”   This will also change to the current day everytime it is opened.

Excel 3

How many cells have numbers in them? Use the “=count(      )” formula. As seen in the picture below, the cell A3 is the result from the formula. Note, it does not count letters/words, only numbers.

Excel 4

I’ll conclude today’s tutorial with a slightly harder one. It is based off of the previous formula. But what if we want to see how many cells are in a certain area that have a higher value than…4. To do this, we use the “=countif” formula. Lets reset the cells and make a new range to experiment with. As we know from the previous lesson, it does not count letters or words.

Excel 5

Now, lets input the “=countif” formula. According to Excel, for this formula to work we need to input “=countif(range, criteria)”. This means we first need to tell it what cells you want it to search. Then, input a comma and put in what it needs to meet (in our case, larger than 4.)

Excel 6

Now that we’ve selected what cells to search, lets put in the criteria.

Excel 7

Please take note of the quotation marks around the criteria. We need this to work. Without these, when you try to enter it it’ll say there’s an error and want you to fix it. Now we’ve pressed enter, lets see if it’s correct.

Excel 8

I put an X and green box beside the ones that were greater than 4. Excel was correct, there were only 3 cells that were greater than 4. Note that Z was not counted and 3.9 didn’t count. If I had a 4 in there, it would not increase the count either because the criteria says it must be greater than 4.

On a side note. I remember in elementary and middle school we would spend our computers period trying to get to the bottom and right-most cell. Of course, scrolling through it is impossible. But, we can do this with an empty spreadsheet. Highlight any cell, and hold ctrl (control) and press down, then right (with the control key held down). Control+Arrow Key allows us to go to the next occupied cell in the direction of the arrow, but since there are none, then it will go to the bottom of the page. If only I knew this in middle school…

I am not sure if I want to continue with Excel Formula tutorials. I could venture on into Powerpoint or more Word, as for school purposes Excel is used very minimally. Though this is a useful skill in my eyes, you may think otherwise. If you want to request a tutorial on any Microsoft programs or another one (if I can get my hands on it) please post it in the comments section below.