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Barkerville monument honours Chinese Canadian legacy

A commemorative monument unveiled in Barkerville Sunday marks the May 2014 apology in the legislature to Chinese Canadians and recognizes the contributions of Chinese Canadians to the history, culture and economic prosperity of our province. It also serves as a permanent reminder of the thousands of Chinese miners who followed the gold rush in the mid-1800’s, traveling to British Columbia’s Cariboo region - Photo courtesy of the Province of British Columbia
A commemorative monument unveiled in Barkerville Sunday marks the May 2014 apology in the legislature to Chinese Canadians and recognizes the contributions of Chinese Canadians to the history, culture and economic prosperity of our province. It also serves as a permanent reminder of the thousands of Chinese miners who followed the gold rush in the mid-1800’s, traveling to British Columbia’s Cariboo region
— image credit: Photo courtesy of the Province of British Columbia

Surrounded by a winter's worth of snow, dignitaries gathered in historic Barkerville Sunday to unveil a commemorative plaque officially recognizing the contributions of Chinese Canadians to B.C.’s rich cultural, historical and economic mosaic.

The plaque, cast in bronze, will be displayed beside Barkerville’s historic Chinatown archway.

During the Cariboo Gold Rush, up to half of Barkerville’s population was Chinese.

“As a third-generation descendent of Barkerville, I am pleased that a permanent reminder of the sacrifices and contributions made by Chinese British Columbians, including my father, Wong Mon ‘Bill’ Hong, to the building of our province will be established in Barkerville for all visitors to read and observe,” said Ray Hong, descendent of the Barkerville Chinese Canadian pioneer.

Hong was on hand for the ceremony in Barkerville, along with Mayor Walt Cobb, Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes, Barkerville's chief executive officer Ed Coleman and Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism.

“Barkerville’s commemorative monument beautifully preserves the 2014 apology made in the legislature for historic wrongs committed against Chinese Canadians by past provincial governments. It also signifies the important role B.C.’s Chinese community has played in shaping British Columbia into the great province it is today," Watt said.

Barkerville, the largest living-history museum in western North America and site of one of North America’s first established Chinese communities, is world-renowned for excellence in preserving and presenting the history of Chinese immigrants to British Columbia – including important facts from the mid-1800s when thousands of Chinese miners followed the Gold Rush, travelling to British Columbia’s Cariboo region.

“Barkerville is truly a testament to British Columbia’s rich history and this commemorative monument to B.C.’s Chinese Canadian community honours an important part of that historical narrative. Every person who reads the inscription will forever be reminded that British Columbia values, embraces and welcomes people of all cultural backgrounds," said Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes.

The monument is the fifth in a series of up to 15 markers – interpretive signs, plaques and monuments – that will be established in communities throughout B.C. in coming months. The Barkerville monument was created in consultation with Barkerville Historic Town and Park. The project is the result of the B.C. government’s commitment to create a Chinese legacy for all British Columbians, stemming from the May 2014 Apology by B.C.’s legislative assembly.

As one of several provincial Chinese legacy projects completed or currently underway, the commemorative monuments project resulted from a report on the Chinese historical wrongs consultations. The report includes a recommendation for one or more regional plaques or monuments to be created to commemorate the positive contributions of Chinese Canadians to B.C.’s history, culture and prosperity.

The first marker was celebrated in Kelowna in December 2016.

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