Hundreds walked the streets of Victoria to commemorate the anniversary of Chinese students holding a strike against an old school district segregation policy.
In 1922, the Victoria School District implemented a policy segregating Chinese students up to Grade 7. On Sept. 5, 1922, the first day that the policy was in effect, Chinese students of George Jay Elementary School were taken from their classrooms in George Jay and Central schools and walked to the Chinese-only school on Kings Road.
When they arrived, rather than going inside the school, the students went on strike, which lasted for one year.
“We are here to remember the past and pay homage to a significant event about courage. The courage to take a stand against racism and segregation,” said Thomas Chan, president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA).
On the 100th anniversary, hundreds of people consisting of SD 61 members, politicians, members of the Chinese community, and descendants of students who attended George Jay walked from the school to Kings Road. The same route that the students took.
“Without the bold, courageous steps of these children, we don’t know what the future would’ve held,” said Alan Lowe, chair of the Victoria Chinatown Museum Society.
During a special board meeting in July, Lowe invited SD 61 to issue an apology for implementing the policy. During a ceremony today, SD 61’s Board Chair Ryan Painter presented a plaque to the CCBA as an apology for the racist decisions of the past board.
“On behalf of the board, I issue an unqualified and remorseful apology,” said Painter.
An apology was also given on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce for its discriminatory practices against the Chinese community. Mayor Lisa Helps announced that a motion will be brought forward for consideration that will examine any discriminatory and racist actions taken against the Chinese community by the City of Victoria.
“Once we’ve done that work and looked at that history, we’ll have some more to say in the form of an apology,” said Helps during a speech at the ceremony.