Road to Justice: The legal struggle for equal rights of Chinese Canadians; on view in the Osgoode Hall Law School Library; Sept. 15 – Oct. 3

Chinese track gang, ca.1900, courtesy of Vancouver Public Library

Road to Justice, a multimedia exhibit documenting the historical discriminatory treatment of Chinese Canadians and other immigrants of colour in Canada, the communities’ triumph over racism, and the lessons Canadians can learn from history, will be on display in the Law Library of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School from September 15 to October 3 during regular library hours.

The travelling exhibit is the work of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (based on its website of the same name: with the support of the Government of Canada through the Community Historical Recognition Program and Unifor (formerly CAW) Social Justice and Humanity Funds.

This legal history project is in part an investigation of the social values and politics that led to such shameful laws as the Chinese Exclusion Act (Immigration Act, 1923) and the various head taxes on Chinese – which along with other federal, provincial, and municipal statutes created a body of law that was aimed at restricting the lives and activities of a single race of people.

Selected decisions in key court cases are also summarized. The second part of Road to Justice covers interviews and biographical sketches of some of the first Chinese Canadian lawyers, as well as key activists in the Redress Campaign, who lobbied the Government of Canada for an apology for more than 60 years of legislated discrimination against them and their community.

These early laws were clearly discriminatory and they provide a stark contrast to the multiracial, multicultural Canada we share today with others from all parts of the world who have chosen this country as their home.