Immigration Reform and Family Reunification

Jean gained a national profile through her work in challenging discriminatory immigration legislation. For twenty-four years, the Chinese Immigration Act, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, halted the entry of Chinese into Canada. The result was a bachelor society, absent of women and children. After this legislation was repealed in 1947, there was hope for the reunification of families; however, many restrictions prevented most Chinese from bringing their wives, children, and parents to Canada.

A cross country committee was established to lobby for the lifting of these restrictions. Revisions to the immigration laws were sorely needed and Jean believed strongly in family reunification. Jean was the only female member of a delegation of forty Canadians and Chinese Canadians to meet with Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. Diefenbaker invited her to site beside him and to repeat what was said in the briefing. A little known fact was that he was hard of hearing in one ear. From that day, Jean became the unofficial spokesperson of the Chinese community. Due to this delegation, the immigration regulations were revised.

Image credit: Jean Lumb Collection

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