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I Am The Canadian Delegate

Country Available: Canada, USA

***A Federal Government building at 401 Burrard in the heart of Vancouver's financial district, is to be renamed the DOUGLAS JUNG BUILDING, after the late Douglas Jung, WWII Vet and Canada's first Chinese Member of Parliament.

The naming of a building is an open process and there were many, many worthy considerations. However, the exhibition of I Am the Canadian Delegate was instrumental in letting the decision-makers know of Mr. Jung's significance. At the official naming ceremony next week, the film will be shown and I will be one of the speakers. The date, September 7 is significant - one hundred years ago on September 7, 1907, Chinese were tied by their pigtails and thrown into False Creek.

It continues the legacy of our Chinese Canadian pioneers who sacrificed so that we of Chinese heritage can be full partners in Canadian society today.***

I am the Canadian Delegate is a documentary on   Douglas Jung (1924-2002), WWII veteran and Canada's first Chinese Canadian Member of Parliament.     The story of Douglas Jung mirrors the stories of many Canadian born Chinese from earlier generations.    Caught between the world of their parents and the institutional racism of Canada, they belonged to neither the country of their heritage nor the country of their birth.

Born and raised in Victoria, it was hard for young Jung to accept that he had no rights of citizenship.   He wanted to prove to Canada that he belonged and thought that serving in WWII would show his commitment.   However, BC was rejecting Chinese for the military so he went east to volunteer.   There he was recruited by the British Special Operations Executive to be part of Operation Oblivion, an operation so named because there was little expectation of survival.  

But survive he did.  

He began to feel his dreams being realized when after the war, Chinese were granted the right to vote in 1947. After working for several years, he quit when he hit the glass ceiling because he was Chinese.   This prompted to take advantage of the free education offered to veterans.   He returned to university and became one of B.C.'s first Chinese lawyers.  

Jung was recruited by the Conservatives and was elected as Canada's first Member of Parliament of Chinese heritage.   He helped institute the amnesty program where Chinese that had entered Canada illegally during the Chinese Exclusion period were allowed to regularize their status.    Prime Minister Diefenbaker sent Jung to represent Canada at the United Nations.    While taking his place, an usher told him that that seat was reserved for the Canadian delegate.   Jung turned to the man and replied,   "I am the Canadian Delegate."

The Chinese community that helped elect him felt that he had become too proud and turned against him, throwing him out of office.    He resumed his law practice, becoming involved in matters concerning the veterans and community service.   In recognition of his long service to country, he was awarded the Order of Canada in 1990.

Director/Producer Wesley Lowe ©2007

View a printer friendly version of this page...Copyright Date: 2007 Length: 48 minutes School Audience:
  • Grades 8-12
  • Post-Secondary
  • Subjects:
  • Canadian History
  • Social Studies
  • Biographies
  • Formats Available:
  • DVD