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Li, Peter S.

Toronto. Oxford University Press, 1988. 164pp. paper, $10.95, ISBN 0-19-540652-4. CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by John D. Crawford

Volume 16 Number 6
1988 November

This is a concise summary of the Chinese immigrant experience in Canada. The first part describes Chinese immigration before 1923 and the racist restrictions prevalent at the time; the second part shows how these early immigrants and their immediate descendants established themselves in Canada in the face of these restrictions; the final part examines developments since the end of World War II. The overall picture is one in which Chinese immigrants were for a long period considered unassimilable and have only recently become more accepted as part of the evolving demographic scene in Canada.

The extreme restrictions placed upon Chinese immigrants in Canada from the 1880ís to the 1960ís are considered to have been the result of institutional racism firmly grounded on simple economic bases. On the one hand employers sought the advantage of such restrictions as a means of maintaining a cheap labour pool; on the other, workers used anti-Chinese feelings to justify wage differentials. An indirect effect of this policy was the increased participation of Chinese people in ethnic businesses and other entrepreneurial activities.

In addition to numerous statistical tables, there is a subject index, an author index and a reference index; eight pages of notes supplement the text. This is clearly a work of erudition that informs the reader about a human migration composed of countless individual stories and a rich variety of experience.

John D. Crawford, Marigold School, Victoria, B.C.
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