Chinese Canadian soldier honoured in Kamloops and France for Battle of Vimy Ridge
Frederick Lee died for his country but remained anonymous until now
Frederick Lee of Kamloops died a century ago in battle during the First World War but his story is only just being told now.
At age 21, Lee was killed during the Battle of Hill 70, near Vimy Ridge. He is one of hundreds of Chinese Canadians who volunteered to fight in the war who are now being honoured both at home and abroad.
A memorial is being constructed at the Kamloops Chinese Heritage Cemetery and, at the site of the battle in France, a walkway will be named after him.
The untold stories of battle
"I think most of Canada don't know who he is," said Jack Gin, who was at the Chinese Freemasons press conference to tell Lee's story Thursday.
"Even though I'm of Canadian Chinese heritage, I was astounded that there was a young Chinese man who went out and fought for Canada," Gin said.
He said it goes against all the typical portrayals of the battle.
"My image of Vimy Ridge was a whole bunch of English and Scottish-sounding names, some of them wearing kilts, storming over the hill," he said.
'So proud of him'
Historians are looking into the names of those killed at Vimy Ridge, Gin explained, and have discovered at least 20 different countries of heritage.
"I was shocked when I got the news about Frederick Lee," said Elsie Cheung, president of the Kamloops Chinese Freemasons. "Knowing that he is a Kamloops Chinese guy from here, we are so proud of him."
Little else is known about the Kamloops man, other than his name and his B.C. roots. His father is thought to be buried in the Chinese cemetery in Kamloops.
Gin said Lee's story is just a part of the bigger picture of Chinese Canadian contributions during the First World War
"I foresee a day when tour buses will come in and bring Canadians [to the memorial site] and, now perhaps, they'll be bringing in Chinese folks too."
With files from Daybreak Kamloops.