Apology for woman jailed over Chinese boyfriend

Ontario woman who was jailed for having Chinese boyfriend gets apology 60 years later

An Ontario woman who was jailed in 1939 for living with her Chinese boyfriend has received an apology from the provincial government.

Velma Demerson, 82, says the apology is a good first step, but she still wants financial compensation.

She was eating breakfast with her boyfriend Harry Yip in May 1939 when two police officers came and took her into custody.

Jailed 10 months

Demerson, who was pregnant at the time, was charged under the Female Refuges Act of 1897 for about 10 months.

Her son was born in prison and later taken from her.

The act, which was repealed in 1964, allowed authorities to jail women between the ages of 16 and 35 for behaviour such as promiscuity, pregnancy out of wedlock and public drunkenness.

Ontario government officials refused to discuss the letter, saying the province is negotiating with Demerson.

She says she also wants an apology for other women who went through a similar experience.