The Chinamen built the railroad,
The Canadian Pacific Railway was a railway built across Canada to link Canada’s populated centres with the vast potential of its relatively unpopulated West. Also the fact the Canada’s population is very wide spread.
Construction started in the year of 1881, all men could work there, regardless of race or ethnic background. So, many White, Black, Aboriginal, and Chinese people were hired to do this job. Around 15,000-18,000 Chinese came over to Canada… But here’s the deal;
- Chinese people were paid anywhere from 0.75$–$1.25 a day, paid in rice mats, and not including expenses (They had to pay for cooking gear, clothes, food, etc), leaving barely anything to send home. While other races of people made anyway from 2-5 times as much money as them.
- Forced to work longer hours.
- They had to do the most dangerous jobs, like working with explosives to clear tunnel rock, move boulders, and build bridges over steep gorges. Also had to do the most back breaking jobs, they cleared and graded the railway’s roadbed.
- Many injuries occurred, they had no proper healthcare. The families of the Chinese who were killed received no compensation, or even notification of loss of life (Around 600 Chinese people died)
- The Chinese railway workers lived in camps, sleeping in tents or boxcars. The camps were crowded. Diet and living conditions were poor. Many got sick. In the winter it was very cold (Remember this is Canada, buuurrrrr). Whenever the workers put down more tracks, the camps had to be moved further down the line. When it was time to move camp, the Chinese workers would take down their tents, pack their belongings and move everything to the next camp, often hiking over 40 kilometres.
- John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada, had proclaimed that “without the Chinese, there would be no railroad”. Yet, when the CPR was finally finished in 1885, the Canadian government gave the other workers a total of 25 million acres of free land, but did not give the Chinese workers even a single “thank you” for their contributions and sacrifices to Canada.
Well, we can’t completely blame Canadians… the Chinese in China advertised this to be a good opportunity
So, y'all think that’s pretty bad, eh?… well, we’re not done.
Right after construction finished in 1885, the Canadians placed a head tax on Chinese wanting to immigrate to the country. Being raised from $50, to $100, and then to $500… remember the time frame here, 500 bucks was two years in salary for a Chinese person. This act only lasted until 1923, it was gone! Good? No…
The Chinese Immigration Act in 1923, was an act passed by the Parliament of Canada, banning most forms of Chinese immigration to Canada. Immigration from most countries was controlled or restricted in some way, but only the Chinese were so completely prohibited from immigrating. The only way one could get in is if he was;
- A diplomat
- Under special circumstances
- A foreign student
Really? After all they been through… and this is how you treat ‘em?
The Chinese population in Canada went from 46,500 in 1931 to about 32,500 in 1951. This act was finally 100% eliminated in 1967.
Current situation between the Chinese and Canada
- In 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized for the head tax placed on the Chinese.
- There are 1,346,510 Chinese people in Canada, making up 4.31% of the country.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit "What Goes Around" by Nas Lyrics and leave a comment on the lyrics box