One of the ‘Big 6 Historical Thinking Concepts’ used here is that of historical significance. It is defined as people, places, or events that resulted in great change over a long period of time for a large number of people. Events that are historically significant are typically present in school textbooks and part of what we learn growing up as a child. Some historically significant positive events include the speech of Martin Luther King Jr. , and negative events such as the Second World War.
This is important as there are many lessons to be learned from such events, in order to have a better world. The issue of the Chinese Head Tax is significantly personal to me because of my Chinese heritage. It is significant to Canada because of its discussion for more than 100 years. It is also significant to the world because of hot issues about immigration surrounding the United States and Western Europe. It is important that we look back on the historically significant event of the Chinese Head Tax and take some lessons to the current immigration issues.
The issue of the Chinese Head Tax is of historical significance because it serves as a lesson to all of us today to how future generations look back on us and the policies that we have created. Migration to Canada is at an all-time high, and so is migration around the world. It is a big issue in North America and Western Europe. Policymakers can use the historically significant lesson from the Chinese Head Tax when creating policies. This essay will analyze politics of Canada in the past, the marginalization of Chinese immigrants, and the argument of it being fair, to create lessons for policy-making.
Political forces caused the Chinese Head Tax to get higher and higher. Canadians were worried that there were too many immigrants, and were also afraid that immigrants would take up their jobs. When people shared their concerns with the government, the policy of the Chinese Head Tax was created. This Chinese Head Tax was very unfair to immigrants, as it was about 2 years’ salary, but policymakers wanted to keep their jobs and make Canadians happy, even if it was morally wrong. The Head Tax affected Chinese immigrants only, which disadvantaged and marginalized them.
No other immigrants had to pay a Head Tax then, and there were many anti-Asiatic demonstrations. The lesson here is that policymakers must consider both an outcome for the good of all Canadians, as well as unintended consequences for a certain group or society as a result of a certain action. It can be argued that the Chinese Head Tax is just like an ‘investment visa’ where immigrants have to invest CAD $800,000 over 5 years. However, this argument is flawed, because the present-day visa provides an investment return, and a signed agreement of terms.
The Chinese Head Tax in the late-1800s provided no agreement that helped the Chinese immigrants. No ‘investment visa’ anywhere in the world puts the immigrant in as much of a disadvantage as the Chinese Head Tax, and the following bullying for decades. Encouragingly, Canada has attempted to close a chapter on a darker side of its history. The government has apologized for this mistake in history, and made payments to surviving victims. This is a reminder that policymakers and the public should make use of historically significant lessons like the Chinese Head Tax, when considering present-day views of immigration.