Program working with foreign-trained agricultural graduates and Head Tax Redress activists tie for Award of Excellence in anti-racism Special fund for redress research to be created in honour of the Chinese Canadian community
CALGARY, May 1, 2008 - A program run by Le Carrefour BLE, called Agrippez-vous!, which assists foreign-trained graduates to integrate into the agricultural food industry in Quebec, and the campaign to get an apology and redress for the Chinese Head Tax by the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC), acknowledging the role of other organizations and individuals in the Chinese Canadian community, will share the Award of Excellence in anti-racism title given to organizations for anti-racism initiatives. The awards program which is presented biennially by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) were handed out tonight in Calgary. Each of the winning organizations will share a prize award of $10,000.
"Both organizations demonstrated quite substantially the impact of their programs, the anti-racism principles followed and the leadership and sustainability qualities that the jury was looking for, among the other criteria," observed Zanana Akande, an educator and former Ontario government minister who chaired the independent jury panel. "In the case of the CCNC, while acknowledging their leadership role in the redress movement, the jury wanted to ensure that other groups, such as those in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec and individuals in the community who were not a party to the nomination, would also be acknowledged for this significant achievement."
The other members of the independent jury were Madeline Ziniak, National Vice-President of Rogers OMNI Television and Baijayanta Mukhopadhyay of Montreal, a medical student and former member of the CRRF's National Youth Anti-Racism Network
The "Agrippez-vous!" program run by Carrefour BLE provides three months of theoretical training and a two-month internship to about 35 candidates each year to familiarize them with Quebec and North American methods. They claim a success rate of 95 percent who have gone on to work in the industry with most of them gaining recognition of their credentials by the Quebec Society of Agronomists.
The CCNC took up the campaign for an apology and redress of the Chinese Head Tax about 25 years and was joined in the campaign by such groups as the BC Coalition of Head Tax Payers, Spouses and Descendants; The Ontario Coalition of Head Tax Payers among other groups and individuals from across the country. The discriminatory law which was in force from 1885 to 1923 was put in place to restrict Chinese immigration to Canada by requiring Chinese immigrants to pay a high head tax. In June 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on behalf of Canadians, offered an apology for the Head Tax and Exclusion Act and provided redress to living head tax payers and their surviving spouses.
"The Canadian Race Relations Foundation congratulates the co-winners for their outstanding and exemplary accomplishments," said Ayman Al-Yassini, Senior Executive Vice President of the CRRF." Since it is impossible to split the award prize among the Chinese Canadian community, the CRRF has decided to establish a special fund, in honour of the Chinese Canadian community, which will provide some assistance to communities who are doing research with a view to seeking redress or reparations as a result of racism. Details and criteria for eligibility for the fund will be announced at a later date. "
Awards of Distinction were presented to the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (Quebec) for its multi-faceted campaign to address racial profiling; "The Great White North Project: Exploring Whiteness, Privilege, Racism and Identity in Canada", a collection of essays on white privilege and racism by Dr. Darren Lund (and Dr. Paul Carr) of the University of Calgary (Alberta); The Youth Action Network (Ontario) for its annual anti-racism conference; SaskTel (Saskatchewan) for its Representative Workforce Strategy and Aboriginal Participation Initiative, and the UniversitÃ© du Quebec a Montreal which produced "La Lecon de discrimination". They receive $2,000 each.
The jury panel also awarded "Honourable Mention" to another seven entries. The Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies (AMSSA) (British Columbia), Equitas (Quebec), Canadian Pacific Railway (Alberta), Media Awareness Network (Ontario), Sioux Lookout Anti-Racism Committee (SLARC)(Ontario), Women Diversity & Teaching Group, Mount St. Vincent University (Nova Scotia) and YOUCAN (Ontario).