An influential Regina restaurant owner who stood against a racist and sexist labour law in the 1920s now has a piece of art in his honour in the city.
The art installation in honour of Yee Clun was done by Xiao Han and unveiled near the Chinese Benevolent Association downtown on Monday afternoon.
It recognizes Clun, who fought a Saskatchewan provincial law commonly called the “white women’s labour law” which barred Asian men from employing white women at their businesses.
Yee applied for a municipal licence to allow him to hire white women and was rejected, but the city’s actions were overturned by the Saskatchewan Court of King’s Bench.
Yee Clun is being featured in The Lost Stories Project by Concordia University which is highlighting little-known stories of Canada’s past for the nation’s 150th birthday.
In attendance were 26 of Clun’s family members, most who relocated to B.C. decades ago. This includes his daughters Mamie Wong and Annie Marr, who are now 94 and 88.
“We were surprised by the whole thing because I never heard my father say anything about this,” Wong said at the unveiling. “It’s only recently that I was told about the story.
“I’m proud of him. I never thought he had the courage to do anything like that.”
Marr called the monument “wonderful.”
Ronald Rudin, professor of history at Concordia University, said Clun is one of four people from the Lost Stories Project being recognized this summer.
“It’s a pretty amazing story about a law that’s hard to believe ever existed. The story is a sad one in some ways but I also think it speaks to the courage of somebody who was prepared to stand up against a law that was unjust,” Rudin said.
Eric Wong, Clun’s eldest grandson, does anti-racism work as a career. Not knowing anything about his grandfather’s story, he was researching racist laws and came across it.
“The voices against him were quite vocal at the time,” Eric said. “I can only imagine his stamina, his ability to persevere, given the social and political environment at that particular time. “
The memorial was unveiled in Regina at 3 p.m. to a large crowd.