The exhibition demonstrates through photographs and portraits the history of the Chinese immigrants who came to Barkerville, B.C., in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to mine for gold and carry out business. These photographs and portraits by Chow Dong Hoy, a Chinese-Canadian photographer known for his astonishing documentation of First Nations, Chinese and Caucasian people, allow us to view the lives of Chinese immigrants who came to the Cariboo Region during the gold rush era. These men came to this region of Canada known as Gold Mountain to help support their families at home in China. This important collection gives us a glimpse of their lives, aspirations and work, and takes a closer look at who they were as individuals.
Honourable senators, this remarkable project was initiated when Judy Campbell, CEO of Barkerville Heritage Trust, and Bill Quackenbush, curator and historian from Barkerville Historic Town in British Columbia, accompanied me on my official visit to China in 2009. This exhibit was made possible by collaboration with the officials from the Guangdong Overseas Chinese Museum in Guangzhou, China. Having a father who emigrated to Canada 100 years ago from the village of Xichengli in Guangdong province, I am honoured to have been able to facilitate this exhibition.
Honourable senators, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Chinese immigrants were forbidden by the Canadian government to bring their families to live with them. Through the Who Am I? exhibit, their descendants will learn about their ancestors who came to Gold Mountain to help support their families at home in China. The exhibit in China will hopefully illustrate to Chinese citizens our unique and rich Chinese-Canadian story, and further tie the communities that span an ocean closer together.
I congratulate the Barkerville Historic Town and the Guangdong Overseas Chinese Museum in Guangzhou for their success in creating such an important exhibit.