On May 15, 2000, the Asian
Library at the University of British Columbia, in collaboration with the
Institute of Asian Research, hosted this photograph exhibition to celebrate
Asian Heritage Month. This collection, composed of 96 photographs,
included images from three immigration periods; Chinese refugees from Mainland
China to Hong Kong, Chinese Refugees from Vietnam to Hong Kong, and the
“boat people” who arrived in British Columbia from China in 1999.
A collection of photographs
about these migrants began to take shape in the Asian Library in 1999,
with two generous donations. This collection has been developed to
support research on Chinese migration, as well as to document the recent
arrival of these migrants to British Columbia’s shores.
By exhibiting these otherwise
dispersed images of individuals whose stories were often presented to the
public in different manners, the Asian Library hopes to give them a “voice”
and add a human face to these issues. This collection provides snapshots
of their experiences and aids in revealing the circumstances behind these
Updates on the status of
the migrants arriving British Columbia on the four boats in 1999-2000 and
the 36 new arrivals in containers in April 2001 are included below. We
have also appended the fact sheets provided by the Alberni Reef Association
which brought the four boats from the B.C. Provincial Government in 2000
and sunk two of them at China Creek on June 10, 2001.
Marine Arrivals: Status Update
Updated June 11, 2001
|Est. Length of Journey
||54 (not including 9 crew)
||418 (not including 9 crew)
A. Warrants issued
(released and failed to comply with terms and conditions issued) - Totals:
B. Removed from Canada
and repatriated to China - Totals: 320
C. Criminally charged
by the RCMP and in provincial detention facility - Totals: 9
D. Refugee status
awarded - Totals: 24
E. Minors living in
custodial housing provided by the Ministry for Children and Families -
Update - Finalized IRB Decisions
Total claims finalized: 373
||Released on Terms and Conditions
||Immigration Warrant Issued
The following information
was taken from a brochure issued by the Alberni Reef Society.
In the summer of 1999, the
Canadian coast guard stopped four vessels that had entered Canadian waters.
Aboard these vessels, they discovered approximately 600 illegal immigrants
being smuggled into Canada.
Each of these people paid
approximately $30,000 for the promise of amnesty and a better life.
Many did not have the entire amount; they were told that they would get
good jobs in New York and would be able to pay off these debts. They
did not realize that “good jobs” were actually work in prostitution and
gangs, and that the journey across the waters would be so arduous.
About the Boats
#1 - The “Blue”
boat carried 123 people
- Took 39 days to cross the ocean.
- Arrived July 20th at Gold River.
- Length 128’ Width 22’
#2 - The “Rusty” boat carried
- Arrived at Winter Bay.
- Length 120’ Width 23.6’
#3 - The freighter carried
- Length 210’ Width 30’
#4 - The Korean Freezer
ship carried 147 people.
- Arrived in the Queen Charlottes.
- Length 128’ Width 30’
About the Journey
“Snakeheads”, people who traffic
in the illegal smuggling of refugees, are responsible for these actions:
to date, the Snakeheads and crew have not been charged under the Immigration
Act because of lack of evidence.
The people kept in the holds
of the vessels were never allowed on the deck.
Small holes were made to pass
down rice and vegetables, often smelling of gasoline.
Pots, used for toilets, were
dropped down into the holds, and were not cleaned regularly.
The smell of body odor, gasoline,
feces and rotting vegetables filled the small hold where people where held.
The Federal Government spent
over $100,000 cleaning the four vessels. They removed about 50 tons
of garbage and steam cleaned the interior for biological contaminates.
More than 30 million has been spent on these vessels.
Fuzhou Committee of Policy and
Law announced that it was cracking down on alien smuggling, and has begun
imposing “The heaviest punishment allowable by applicable law on illegal
Alberni Reef Society
The Alberni Reef Society
has purchased all four vessels from the government; this is a public awareness
project, designed to illustrate how the migrants were treated during their
voyage. To date, the society has spent approximately $150,000 to
clean the four ships of hydrocarbons (such as fuels, lubricating oils,
grime, soot, loose wood and glass), so that they can be sunk. This
act will ensure that the boats will never again be used for human smuggling,
and will help to create and expand reefs in several areas. The “Blue”
and “Rusty” boats were sunk off China Creek on June 10th, 2001. There
has been no date scheduled to sink the remaining boats, targeted for Canoe
and Weld Islands. These new reefs will help the local ecosystem and
create diver-friendly areas for eco-tourism. This is an expensive project;
with the help of community volunteers, donations, and many long hours by
the Alberni Reef Society, they will accomplish their goal.
For further information about
the Alberni Reef Society or to make a donation, please contact Brook George
at (250) 723-8313.
The Affiliation of Multicultural
Societies and Service Agencies (AMSSA) of British Columbia
"a coalition of over 80
organizations providing multicultural programs and immigrant settlement
services throughout the Province of British Columbia."
Canadian Council for Refugees
"The Metropolis Project
: An international forum for research and policy on migration, diversity
and changing cities."
Vancouver Association of
Chinese Canadians - Chinese Refugee Claimants
Yahoo! News Canada - Chinese
The cataloging of these
photographs and the design and creation of this website was accomplished
by Corey Schultz, in fulfillment of course credit towards the Masters in
Library and Information Studies (MLIS) degree at the School of Library
and Information Studies (SLAIS), University of British Columbia.