Mission & History
A vibrant, healthy and compassionate community;
united through solidarity and equality.
To provide leadership and resources to promote
the unity and harmony of
the Chinese Community in Edmonton.
Then and Now
The Chinese Benevolent Association of Edmonton (CBA) is a non-political, non-religious community organization. The CBA was officially established in 1929 for the Chinese residents of Edmonton. Initially, it was a meeting place for Chinese immigrants. The CBA has been in the same location since the 1940’s, but the building was demolished in 1984 and rebuilt five years later. Today, the primary objective of the CBA is to be an umbrella organization uniting Edmonton’s Chinese residents to achieve projects beneficial for the Edmonton Chinese community.
The CBA was created as a result of the Canadian Government passing the “Asian Exclusion Act.” This Act included 43 harsh and restrictive regulations affecting Chinese people both in and desiring to come to Canada. During the Great Depression in the 1930’s, many Chinese Canadians faced unemployment. The economic hardships at the time gave rise to anti-Chinese racism. The CBA was also founded to help the Edmonton Chinese Community deal with this.
During the 1930’s Japan invaded China and the motherland lay in waste. Consequently, many of our fellow countrymen were destitute. The CBA, in support of the Chinese Government, encouraged local Chinese expatriates to buy war bonds to help defend China from its invader. A fervent sense of Chinese nationalism developed at this time. Working with the Edmonton Chinese Dramatic Club of Canada, the CBA initiated various fundraising activities to support China’s struggle against its aggressor.
CBA Building 1951: Young Chinese posing in front of the building
In the early 1950’s, Canadian immigration policy had improved and become more accommodating to Chinese people. This change allowed unmarried, young men to come to Canada. But, due to previous discriminatory restrictions, men in the Chinese community greatly outnumbered women. It was very difficult for young Chinese men to marry within the community. The CBA supported Mr. M. F. Wong, Canada’s diplomatic secretary, who made ten visits to Ottawa, requesting the federal government allow Chinese men to bring their future spouses to Canada to get married. The successful appeal resulted in another change to the immigration policy. Young Chinese men were now able to go back to China or Hong Kong to get married. Moreover, it enabled them to sponsor their wife or fiancée to come to Canada. As such, Mr. Wong became an important historical figure in Chinese Canadian history.
The Shek Kip Mei, a squatter’s home site in Hong Kong, was devastated by fire in 1954. As a result, in 60,000 people became homeless. The CBA and the Edmonton Chinese Dramatic Club of Canada again worked together to fundraise for this crisis. The response from the Edmonton Chinese community expressed the care and concern they felt for the tragedy.
Before Canada adopted universal healthcare, some Chinese in the Edmonton community were too poor to afford medical treatments. The CBA stepped up to assist those people. For senior citizens who had no relatives or friends in Edmonton, the CBA would provide a ticket to go back to China if they so chose. For the deceased, remains were shipped back to China for burial. At that time, it was important for Chinese people to be buried at their birthplace. The CBA was seen as a pseudo family member looking after the interest of those less fortunate.
CBA Building 1962: Members and executives standing in front of the building
During the 1960’s, the Canadian Government was developing multiculturalism, encouraging Canadian society to become more tolerant and diverse. There was an emphasis on human rights and equality amongst all ethnic groups. The immigration policy had become more fair. In Chinese culture, the family unit was always very important and now married children were allowed to apply for immigrant status to be reunited with their parents in Canada. Chinese residents began putting down roots in Canada. They were integrating into the mainstream and achieved success in Canadian society.
During the 1970’s, the Canadian economy steadily grew stronger. Alberta was blessed with the rising price of crude oil. Wealth poured in and it became a wealthy province. The Alberta government gave grants and aided various ethnic groups with their activities and projects. There was a surge in community development. As a result, the CBA took the initiative by approaching all three levels of government to develop projects that would benefit the Edmonton Chinese community, including the rebuilding of the CBA building starting in 1987. The CBA acted decisively to acquire funding, especially from the provincial government, to build these projects.
Since 1977, the CBA has worked with the Edmonton Chinese community on several monumental projects:
Chinese Elders’ Mansion Tower I (1977)
Beechmount Cemetery – Chinese Pagoda (1981)
Edmonton Chinatown Multi-Cultural Centre (1985)
Edmonton Chinatown Gate (1987)
Chinese Benevolent Association’s New Building (1989)
Chinese Elders’ Mansion Tower II (1991)
Edmonton Seniors’ Lodge (1997)
Northern Lights Cemetery – Chinese Pagoda (1999)
Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre (2004)
CBA Building Today
The history of the CBA consists of the continuous struggle for the well being of the members of the Chinese community. Today, Canada has transformed into a country with individual freedom, human rights, and follows the ideology of multiculturalism. The Edmonton Chinese community has grown bigger and integrated itself into the mainstream society. The intentions of the CBA are to continue developing harmonious relations with all ethnic groups within the Canadian cultural mosaic to create a better future for all Canadians.
Early Chinese in Edmonton
Fund Raising Events
Edmonton Chinatown Credit Union
Significant Projects in the Edmonton Chinese Community