Jeunes Citoyens / Young Citizens

Dylan Vancouver, British Columbia

Fair address: Vancouver Heritage Fair

Project: The Chinese Head Tax, My Family's Struggle in Gold Mountain

My project is a poster that tells you everything you need to know about the Chinese Head Tax and has a few images. I've also written stories of how my family got here to Canada and a section on what I've learned. I also have a video which is a small version of my poster presentation

What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

The most interesting thing I have learned from this project was that my relatives Came to Canada with nothing but still worked hard. For example, my great grandfather came here with nothing but didn't give up and ends up owning a house in Shaughnessey. Also, my Grandfather on my mom's side of the family had lost everything but still managed to buy a house and raise a family of five.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

After researching this topic I have learned many things. I've learned to appreciate things more after hearing family stories and interviewing relatives. I've also learned from my ancestors that if you work hard enough you can achieve anything. That is what I want Canadians to know.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

My life is way better than my ancestors because now people are no longer racist. Also my Great Grandparents made many sacrifices for me to have a good life. I have many things that they didn't have like more variety of foods and being able to buy things without worrying that you will go bankrupt.

  • Olivia Richards 2014 Young Citizen

    hi Dylan! Great video, I really learned a lot about the Chinese head tax. I think you made a well-researched project and video.

    — Olivia R – 2014 Young Citizen

    10/07/2014 11:44:11 PM

  • Greg

    Great work Dylan! To clarify, it's likely that your great grandfather arrived as a labourer and was granted merchant status at a later date. Your family should be proud of its resilience and successes. Outstanding work!
    10/07/2014 4:19:10 PM

  • Susan Lui

    Hi Kam,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments regarding Dylan's information. I would like to respectfully clarify your note and corrections. First, it was his paternal Great Grandfather that came and paid the head tax, not his Grandfather who was born here in Canada. He only gained merchant designation (fought long and hard for) after working as a labourer and saved the money needed to open his shoe repair store. Dylan covered this part of his family history thoroughly in his poster presentation. As to the payment, I know that his Great Grand Fathers on both sides paid the $500.00 head tax. My Great Grand Father (Dylan's Great great Grand Father) also paid the head tax. Our ancestors came from the Canton province region (Toi Shun), our ancestors came at the time because of severe poverty compounded by famine. This was the driving force for the majority of these people coming to Canada seeking a better life and to stave off starvation for them and the families left behind. They literally came with just the clothes on their back and had precious little else. None of Dylan's ancestors (either side) were accorded any special designation, they came, toiled tirelessly, endured hardships and prejudices and sacrificed all to enable Dylan to realized the better life that was hoped for. Most important of all was that Dylan now have a clear deep understanding of his roots and truly appreciate how these early immigrants built this country that we can be proud of. His ancestors would be exceedingly proud of him, I know I am.

    From Zee-zee bursting with pride.

    09/07/2014 9:44:18 PM

  • Winnie Cheung

    Good job, Dylan!
    09/07/2014 2:58:35 PM

  • Kam

    Hi, I am grateful that the younger generation is learning about the past of our ancestors. It is very gratifying. Just a note and correction: the orange certificates are not actually Head Tax Certificates. Subjects who claimed to be merchants, teachers, clergy and diplomats, were exempt from paying $500. The lower classes who did not fit in these exceptions and could least afford to pay these penalties were issued the now famous Green HT Certificates. Dylan, you are a very articulate young man. I believe your grandfather may have come as a merchant, since he owned a shoe store. If it does not indicate he paid $500 on the front, then most likely he entered under the exception class as a merchant. Also, many Chinese fled China not just because of the fall of the Chinese dynasty and the gold rush. The fall of the Chinese empire was precipitated by foreign / European invasions during the Opium Wars that ran, prior to the major exodus. Congratulations on your project, nonetheless.

    08/07/2014 4:08:53 AM

  • Olivia Richards

    Hi Dylan, Great project! I really like your video. It's neat to know we came from the same school.

    — Olivia R – 2014 Young Citizen

    07/07/2014 8:24:49 PM

  • Jack Osiowy

    Really excellent story, Dylan. It's so interesting to learn about a struggle that so many people had to go through - they had to get over to Canada, were detained, had to pay the excessive Head Tax fees, and THEN had to start to make a life in a completely new world. The level of detail is really something else - very few people actually know so much about their ancestry. Once again, amazing job.

    — Jack O – 2014 Young Citizen

    06/07/2014 5:04:37 PM

  • Olivia

    Great job Dylan. Your video was very interesting
    04/07/2014 6:03:49 PM

  • Merlin Dervisevic

    Well done Dylan. -- Fascinating story!!!
    04/07/2014 10:55:24 AM

  • Ed Ho

    We all live off the contributions of those that have preceded us. It's amazing to see someone so young appreciate and understand the struggles of their predecessors. I hope my grand-children will be as understanding and caring as you. Great job, Dylan. -Ed Ho
    01/07/2014 1:45:33 PM

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Project partially funded by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage.
  • Canadian Heritage / Patrimoine Canadien
  • Government of Canada
  • HBC: Hudson's Bay Company
  • ecentricarts inc.