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News Articles - Chinese group turns 90 today

Chinese group turns 90 today
Calgary Herald, October 10th, 2003
By Pearl Tsang

(Copyright Calgary Herald 2003)

CALGARY - The Chinese settlers of the late 1800s and early 1900s came to Calgary to find economic opportunities and freedom, but instead were faced with racial discrimination and other cultural barriers.

"The history is pretty grim," said Dr. Adriana Albi-Davies, executive director of the Alberta Heritage Community Foundation.

"Racism surfaced in many different ways, and the men who came here were not welcomed and were viewed with distress and suspicion."

An influx of Chinese men came to North America to build its railways. Upon completion, they sought other jobs.

From 1902 to 1910, about 400 Chinese labourers settled in Calgary. They became servants or cooks for the elite while others opened up grocery stores, laundries and restaurants.

In 1913, a group of Chinese businessmen formed the Chinese National League of Calgary.

"They pretty well built the Chinatown," said Dan Lee, league president for the past 18 years. "They had to look after the community because who else would do it?"

The Chinese Public School in Calgary as well as the Chinese United Church were spearheaded by the organization.

Today, the Chinese National League is celebrating its 90th anniversary, commemorating all the contributions made by the association's founders.

"For the Chinese, they were a brotherhood, and the society was meant for mutual support," Albi-Davies said.

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