The Lost Story of Yee Clun and Regina's "White Women's Labour Law"
The SHFS is part of the Lost Stories Project!
In fall 2016, the SHFS was contacted The Lost Stories Project, a project led by Concordia University.
Yee Clun Family, ca. 1927. Standing, right to left: Yee Yin (Yee Clun’s older brother), Jack Yee (Yee Clun’s nephew, Yee Yin’s son), Yee Low (Yee Clun’s younger brother). Seated, right to left: Dan, Eng Shee (Yee Clun’s wife), Mamie, Ruby, William, Katie, and Yee Clun.
The Lost Stories Project seeks out little-known stories about the Canadian past and transforms them into works of public art. This process is documented through a series of short films. Along the way, forgotten moments from Canadian history are brought to light, and viewers have a chance to see the choices that have to be made when a story is turned into a work of art. Lost Stories has been selected as a Canada 150 Signature Event and has received funding to do four new episodes across Canada.
The story for the Prairie Provinces is that of Yee Clun1, a Regina restaurant owner. Yee Clun came to prominence in 1924, fighting a Saskatchewan law that required him to secure a municipal license to hire “white women” as employees. Hearings were held that reflected both the racial prejudices of the time, but also significant support for a well-respected businessman and member of the community. Ultimately, Yee Clun’s request was rejected, but the city’s actions were overturned by the Saskatchewan Court of King’s Bench. In the end, this is a story of racial prejudice, but also one of the courage of Yee Clun to challenge the law and of others who stood up for his cause.
The SHFS is delighted to be providing on-the-ground coordination and support for the local people that are involved in the telling of the story.
1. Yee Clun's birth name, as pronounced in his native Hoi-Ping dialect, could be written as Yue Kun Xian. To an English-speaking immigration officer of the time, it may have sounded like Yee Quon Theen, which is how the name was spelled on various documents. It is believed the name was then shortened to Yee Clun. After his marriage, Yue Kun Xian was known in the Chinese community as Yue Yoke Giet. His wife's name can be written as Arng Woon Goke. ↩
Yee Clun's name and pronunciation.
Join us in the Art Park (11th Ave and Halifax Street) for the Public Art Unveiling August 7th, 2017!