Asian Heritage Month

Vancouver: CBC Screenings of Continuous Journey & Shadow of Gold Mountain | May 23

Still image from Continuous Journey

Still image from Shadow of Gold Mountain

CBC Film Screenings for Asian Heritage Month

Friday, May 23, 2008 | 6:00 - 10:00 p.m.
SFU Harbour Centre
515 West Hastings St., Vancouver

Significant stories on the history of Asian Canadian communities in Canada. This film screening will include Q&A with Ali Kazimi, filmmaker. Moderated by Gordy Mark, president of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC

Continuous Journey
(Ali Kazimi, 2004)

Shadow of Gold Mountain
(Karen Cho, 2004)

Seating will be extremely limited, so please RSVP early to North American Association of Asian Professionals (NAAAP) Vancouver.

In partnership with NAAAP Vancouver | DOXA Documentary Film Festival | SFU Canadianized Asian Club | Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC

With thanks to the National Film Board.

Continue reading for film synopses and to hear an interview on As It Happens with Filmmaker Ali Kazimi

CJ-Sea Lion archival footage 2.jpg
Canadian immigration officers on board the Sea Lion (image courtesy Ali Kazimi)
Ali Kazimi - Colour.jpg
Filmmaker Ali Kazimi (image courtesy Ali Kazimi)

CBC Radio One's As It Happens aired an interview with filmmaker Ali Kazimi on Tuesday May 13, 2008. Watch audio (runs 7:02)

A speechwriter somewhere on Parliament Hill has been thumbing through the thesaurus for all the different ways to say, "We're sorry."

The "we" in this case is the Government of Canada. The "sorry" is for actions taken by this country in 1914. And when all the T's are crossed and I's are dotted, the apology will be delivered to the Canadian Indian community.

And it will be delivered for an event called the "Komagata Maru Incident", named for a ship carrying close to 400 would-be immigrants from British India, which docked in Canada.

Ali Kazimi is a documentary filmmaker, who told the story in a film called "Continuous Journey". He's in Toronto.

Continuous Journey is a complex tale of hope, despair, treachery and tragedy. It is a revealing Canadian story with global ramifications set in a time when the British Empire seemed omnipresent and its subjects were restless and seeking self-determination.

In 1914, Gurdit Singh, a Sikh entrepreneur based in Singapore, chartered a Japanese ship, the Komagata Maru, to carry Indian immigrants to Canada. On May 23, 1914, the ship arrived in Vancouver Harbour with 376 passengers aboard: 340 Sikhs; 24 Muslims and 12 Hindus. Many of the men on-board were veterans of the British Indian Army and believed that it was their right as British subjects to settle anywhere in the Empire they had fought to defend and expand. They were wrong...

Continuous Journey is an inquiry into the largely ignored history of Canada's exclusion of the South Asians by a little known immigration policy called the Continuous Journey Regulation of 1908. Unlike the Chinese and the Japanese, people from British India were excluded by a regulation that appeared fair, but in reality, was an effective way of keeping people from India out of Canada until 1948. As a direct result, only a half-mile from Canadian shores, the Komagata Maru was surrounded by immigration boats and the passengers were held in communicado virtual prisoners on the ship. Thus began a dramatic stand-off which would escalate over the course of two months, becoming one of the most infamous incidents in Canadian history.

In the Shadow of Gold Mountain
- Karen Cho, a fifth-generation Canadian of mixed heritage, discovered that half her family wasn't welcome in the country they called home. While Canada encouraged and rewarded immigration from Europe, it imposed laws that singled out the Chinese as unwanted and unwelcome.

Cho's film, In the Shadow of Gold Mountain, takes her from Montreal to Vancouver to uncover stories from the last living survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act. This dark chapter in our history, from 1885 until 1947, plunged the Chinese community in Canada into decades of debt and family separation.

At the centre of the film are personal accounts of extraordinary Chinese Canadians who survived an era that threatened to eradicate their entire community. Through a rich melding of history, poetry and raw emotion, this documentary sheds light on an era that shaped the identity of generations and with deeply moving testimonials, it reveals the profound ways this history still casts its shadow.

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