Road to Justice, a new exhibit which opens today in the Osgoode Library, documents the historical discriminatory treatment of Chinese Canadians and other immigrants of colour in Canada, the communities’ triumph over racism and the lessons Canadians can learn from history. The exhibit will be on display in the library until Friday, October 3, during regular library hours.
The travelling exhibit and its companion websites, Road to Justice/Chermin vers la Justice, were developed by the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic with the support of the federal Department of Immigration & Citizenship’s Community Historical Recognition Program and the Unifor (formerly CAW) Social Justice and Humanity Funds.
This legal history project is in part an investigation of the social values and politics that led to such shameful laws as the Chinese Exclusion Act (Immigration Act, 1923) and the various head taxes on Chinese, which – along with other federal, provincial and municipal statutes – created a body of law that was aimed at restricting the lives and activities of a single race of people.
Selected decisions in key court cases are also summarized. The second part of Road to Justice covers interviews and biographical sketches of some of the first Chinese Canadian lawyers, as well as key activists in the Redress Campaign who lobbied the Government of Canada for an apology for more than 60 years of legislated discrimination against them and their community.
These early laws were clearly discriminatory and they provide a stark contrast to the multiracial, multicultural Canada we share today with others from all parts of the world who have chosen this country as their home.
After the exhibit closes at Osgoode, it will move to Ryerson University in downtown Toronto, opening there on October 13.