Chinatown · History · Vancouver

Hindoos, a deferred report

I’ve been reading the 1908 Proceedings of the Asiatic Exclusion League in San Francisco and came across this opening line under the above heading in their February report:

“One of the chief reasons for the change of name of this League from “Japanese and Korean” to that of “Asiatic” was the knowledge that we have of the great number of Hindoos (sic) that are looking toward the Pacific Coast… as a field for exploitation.”

And later uses statistics from Canada:

“In November, 1906, it was stated at Ottawa, the Canadian capital, that 1460 Hindoos had arrived in British Columbia from January 1st to October 15th of that year, and that 2000 more had already secured passage. Since that time they have been arriving in the North on almost every trans-Pacific steamer in gangs varying in number from one hundred to nine hundred. It is therefore safe to assume that the arrivals for 1907 will total 5000, which, added to the arrivals in 1906 and previous years, would give us Hindoo population for the entire coast of from 8,000 to 10.000.

And then the usual crap shows up:

From every part of the Coast complaints are made of the undesirability of the Hindoos, their lack of cleanliness, disregard of sanitary laws, petty pilfering, especially of chickens, and insolence to women. As an illustration of their disregard of sanitary laws, we quote from a Vancouver paper as follows: “In a shack at one time occupied by a family of two parents and twelve children, seventy Hindoos found lodging. Six times previous to this the health officers had ejected families from this hovel because of overcrowding, SIX persons being considered a full complement for it.”

And finishes with:

“The conclusions reached by your “Bureau” after a careful study of the material at hand, is that the Hindoo is more sinned against than sinning. The blame of their importation rests chiefly with the Canadian Pacific Railroad people, who desire to earn dividends for their steamers by transporting these laborers from Hong Kong to British Columbia. Lieutenant-Governor Dunsmuir is also much to blame in the matter. Being a persistent and vindictive opponent of all forms of organized labor, he has in season and out of season advocated the unrestricted immigration of Asiatics into British Columbia with the avowed purpose of reducing wages.”

It was a speaker from this group that helped set off the Vancouver Anti-Asian riot in Vancouver in 1907.

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