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June 20, 2006
Head tax “Redress Express” arrives in Toronto en route to Ottawa
Chinese Canadian head tax payers, widows and their descendants who left Vancouver last Friday arrived in Toronto on Monday evening, on their way to Ottawa to hear the Chinese head tax apology from the Government of Canada. On Wednesday, many more will board the train for Ottawa to witness the Parliamentary session in Ottawa at which the Government will present Canada’s apology.

“The last spike” will also be traveling on the train. This 120-year-old railway spike was a gift which Pierre Berton gave to Avvy Go for the campaign before he passed away.

“It has taken decades for Chinese Canadians to get the respect for their role in building Canada. We salute their courage and determination to obtain justice,” said Mayor David Miller. “We are pleased that this sad stain on our history will finally be removed. This moment is of great significance, not only to the people of Chinese descent in Toronto, but to all Torontonians.”

Councillor Joe Mihevc, Chair of the City’s Roundtable on Access, Equity and Human Rights added, “This is an important milestone along the human rights journey.”

“This historic cross-country train ride, made possible with the kind support of VIA Rail, is significant for all Canadians,” said Susan Eng, Co-chair of the Ontario Coalition of Chinese Head Tax Payers, Spouses and Descendants.

The Chinese head tax was imposed in 1885. Estimates are 81,000 Chinese paid a total of $23 million in head tax - ranging from $50 to $500 each - to come to Canada until 1923, when the Chinese Exclusion Act barred all but a handful of Chinese immigrants to Canada. That legislation was repealed in 1947. About half of the country’s Chinese Canadian population lives in the Toronto area.

For background information about the head tax, visit

Media contacts:

Don Wanagas
Communications Director
Office of Mayor Miller

Ceta Ramkhalawansingh
Diversity Management and Community Engagement
City Manager’s Office

For inquiries about the train:

Avvy Go
Legal Counsel
Ontario Coalition
647-271-9357 (cell)



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