VICTORIA, Canada, May 15 -- The British Columbia (B.C.) in western Canada (B.C.) made a formal apology on Thursday for the historical wrongs against the province's Chinese Canadian community in the past.
The apology was stated by B.C. Premier Christy Clark minutes after the provincial legislature unanimously passed the apology motion in Victoria, the provincial capital.
"On behalf of the province of British Columbia, and on behalf of the entire legislative assembly, we sincerely apologize for the provincial government's historical wrongs. We are sorry for the discriminatory legislation and racist policies enacted by past provincial governments. We will ensure that this never happens again," the premier said.
"We can't undo the actions of the past -- but we can acknowledge them, apologize, and learn from them," said Clark to the parliament members.
"Today, we rightly recognize and celebrate cultural diversity -- and that's why all sides of the legislature were able to come together to offer our deepest regrets to members of the Chinese community for historic wrongs," he added.
In 1871, the B.C. legislature passed an act to deny the vote to Chinese and other non-whites, thus beginning a long history of anti-Chinese racism that included legal, professional, labor and social discrimination and impediments to education, land ownership, and business operations.
Discrimination was systemic, extending throughout economic, social and political life. That discriminatory policy was not ended until 1947.
The B.C. government was determined that the formal apology be done properly, and that meant working with all parties, Clark said, adding the province appreciates the input and support of all members of the legislative assembly for making today a reality.
The apology motion followed an extensive three-month consultation process led by Teresa Wat, minister responsible for multiculturalism. More than 1,300 people attended a series of seven forums throughout the province between November 2013 and January 2014.
As part of the formal apology, the B.C. government released a consultation summary. The final report lays the foundation for ongoing educational and legacy initiatives, and reflects the broad consensus of participants. The B.C. government has accepted all of the report's recommendations.
"Today is an important day in our province's history. Today's apology is an essential first step toward reconciliation," said John Horgan, leader of the official opposition. "True reconciliation will not occur immediately, but we will take focused, sincere and sustained efforts."