The Gim Wong Story (13:33)
Consider this video a labour of love about a much loved champion of the Lo Wah Kiu (old overseas Chinese) community - Gim Wong. We hope it will add to a legend of our time.
Set as a television variety talk show and performed at the openning and closing performances of the 18th Vancouver International Storytelling Festival, the video is June 13 afternoon performance before a standing room only gathering in the bamboo grove of the Sun Yat-sen Garden in Vancouver's Chinatown. A seminal creative moment in magnificent setting.
In 2005, 82-year old WW II RCAF veteran Gim rode his motorcycle across Canada to enlist media and public support for redress of 62-years of racist Chinese head tax and exclusion laws (1885 – 1947). His Ride for Redress, organised by the Chinese Canadian National Council and redress-seeking groups across Canada, energized head tax families and the redress movement. Gim started early June at Mile 0 in Victoria's Beacon Hill Park, crossed the pairies to Toronto and Montreal and arrived on Parliament Hill for 2005 Canada Day festivities.
On June 22, 2006, the Stephen Harper government issued a parliamentary apology (non actionable) and provided ex gratia payments (without legal obligation) to surviving head tax payers and spouses of deceased head tax payers. What is little known is less than 800 of the over 82,000 families who paid the unjust tax were eligible for the payment under the Harper government’s unilaterally imposed settlement. That's less than 1% and excludes the affected elderly sons and daughters who also suffered and endured hardship.
Gim Wong and thousands of head tax families continue the struggle for an inclusive just and honourable redress. Please go to headtaxfamilies.ca for more. As we say in the video, the Harper government took an issue of justice and honour and turned it into vote pandering and photo ops. They did the first stage, took the bows and left an incomplete redress with much heavy lifting and hard work to do for the second stage.
While Gim's remarkable ride was reported in Chinese language media and is known in the Lo Wah Kiu community, this is a first creative foray into the English language and Canadian cultural mainstream. We were fortunate to have the opportunity from the StoryBox Project and the 18th Vancouver International Storytelling Festival.
Thanks to Naomi Steinberg, Lesley Ewan, Amita Daniels, Vancouver Society of Storytelling, Urban Ink, Sun Yat-sen Garden Society and Head Tax Families Society of Canada. Special thanks to the participants of the StoryBox Project. You are beautiful and inspirational. And thanks to now 88-year old Gim Wong for the story!
Sean Gunn and Sid Chow Tan
Tan & Son of a Gunn Productions 2010
Sean Gunn, Sid Chow Tan and Mary Chan had the idea. Sean and Sid got Gim to to tell the story and perform with them. Van Jensen emceed and Fanna Yee did the taping. All tunes by Sean while Sid did the crash edits and uploading. Note the 1905 date could be 1904 and all errors and omissions should be taken up with Sean!
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