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Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre

Some founders of the Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre (OCCSC) were children of head tax payers. Among the first children of Chinese immigrants to be born in the Ottawa area, they grew up in the shadow of the Chinese Exclusion Act. In these small towns, often families first opened laundries, then ran the lone Chinese-owned cafe. Their stories, from the era of the head tax through to the repeal of the Exclusion Act, remained largely untold—even within families. For that reason, in 2011-12, the OCCSC undertook a project to create a website to discover, share and preserve stories from that time, to safeguard a place for Ottawa area pioneers in the historical record and to provide an educational resource for future generations and researchers. On “Lives of the Family” are stories of more than a dozen families, almost two hundred images and as well, video reminiscences of seven men and women.

Chinese Canadian Stories provided technical support to the OCCSC project by capturing these valuable stories on digital film. Watch excerpts of the interviews here.

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Chinese Canadian Stories: Uncommon Histories from a Common Past

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