Yee Clun and Regina’s “White Women’s Labour Law”
Yee Clun, a Regina restaurant owner, 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 (seated to the left in the front row) to challenge the law and of others who stood up for his cause. It will be told through public art installed at Regina’s Art Park, which is located around the corner from Yee Clun’s home and the headquarters of the Chinese Benevolent Association. This project was made possible by the willingness of Regina’s Heritage Community Association, which manages the Art Park, to provide a location for construction of the commemorative artwork, and by the support of an advisory committee, including members of Regina’s Chinese-Canadian community. This episode is facilitated by Ronald Rudin, Professor of History at Concordia University.
Xiao Han is originally from China, moving to Canada 2008. This Saskatchewan-based artist received her BFA from Thompson Rivers University in 2013 and her MFA from the University of Saskatchewan in 2016. Han investigates the results of China’s One-Child Policy on her generation, focusing on gender and identity. Using herself as an actor, she performs scenarios of birth control, familial judgment, and psychological disturbance. Xiao’s artwork talk about Politics, gender issues, and also explores crossing cultures between Canada and China based on her experience.
Kelly-Anne Riess produced and directed the documentary, Finding Al, about notorious gangster Al Capone’s connections to Canada, which aired nationally on CBC in 2016. As part of her work on the project, she was one of only 15 Canadians to receive a grant from the Telefilm Micro-Budget Production Fund for Emerging Filmmakers in 2014.
Riess worked as a writer, director and researcher on the TV show Crime Stories, which aired on A&E Biography, Investigation Discovery and History Television. Travelling across North America, Riess interviewed police officers who solved some of the most gruesome serial killer cases in the world.
In 2013, Riess won the MTS Stories from Home $20,000 Pitch Competition at the Gimli Film Festival for the documentary Artists by Night, which Riess produced and directed. The film premiered at the Gimli Film Festival a year later.
Riess was a CTV National Fellow at the Banff World Media Festival in 2011.
WORK IN PROGRESS
APRIL 2017 – Work begins!
Below, the artist Xiao Han visiting the Art Park on 13th Avenue to plan for the installation of the artwork in Regina that will be inaugurated on Saskatchewan Day (7 August).
Photo by Kristin Enns-Kavanagh, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society.
Above, Clarence Sihoe, Yee Clun’s grandson has graciously provided the correct pronunciation of his grandfather’s name. “Yee Clun” is the name English-speakers used. The photo here shows the correct pronunciation of his childhood name in the Hoi-Ping dialect.
April 2017 – Work continues!
Below, the artist Xiao Han presenting the progress of the project at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Saskatchewan and work in progress in the studio. Photos by Thomas Bartlett.
The artist Xiao Han visiting Yee Clun’s family in Vancouver. Over 20 members of the family will be making the trip to Regina to attend the inauguration of the artwork on August 7th 2017. Photo by Dan Minsky and Paul Lowey.
A beautiful event: inauguration of Xiao Han’s artwork in Regina on August 7th
A perfect day!
Inauguration day! Xiao Han’s artwork installed in Regina’s Art Park. Below, the artist Xiao Han, members of Yee Clun’s family, project collaborators and guests. A reception followed sponsored by the Chinese Cultural Society of Saskatchewan. Photos by Kristin Enns-Kavanagh.
REVIEWS AND PRESS
Pioneering Saskatchewan restaurateur featured in sesquecentennial Lost Stories Project
CTVNews.ca, June 5th, 2017
Concordia University, July 24th, 2017
Concordia-led Lost Stories project set to unveil 4 public art projects across Canada
An article by Christian Durand
Regina Leader Post, August 7th, 2017
Lost story of pioneering restauranteur recounted in artwork, an article by Heather Polischuk
CBC NEWS – Saskatchewan, August 8th 2017
– Clun fought ‘white women’s labour law’ in the 1920s