Calgary’s Chinese-Canadian community honors sacrifices made by 19th century railroad workers

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Members of Calgary’s Chinese community paid tribute to Chinese railway workers Friday during a Canada Day wreath laying ceremony.

When British Columbia joined Canada in 1871, Canada agreed to extend the railway to the Pacific Ocean.

It took just over four years for 17,000 Chinese men to complete.

During construction, more than 4,000 people died in landslides and premature blasting.

Organizers of Friday’s event said it was important to remember the sacrifices made by these men.

“In our culture, we always remember our forefathers and ancestors before us, and what they did for us,” said Sydney Woo.

Sidney Woo said it was important to remember the sacrifices made by these men.

Woo immigrated to Canada in 1966. He said his grandfather and other relatives experienced racism in Canada and the United States, so much so that his grandfather returned to China for his retirement.

But for Woo and subsequent generations of Chinese Canadians, things got better.

“We appreciate Canada today, which is a very peaceful country and a good place to live,” he said. “Life here is really nice. It’s almost heaven for me.”

As for what Canada Day meant to him?

“Good luck from me,” he said. “I’m lucky. I’m grateful.”

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