Cunningham v. Tomey Homma National Historic Event

Cunningham v. Tomey Homma legal battle was designated a national historic event in 2011.

Historical importance: Provided pre-Charter human rights activists with a compelling illustration of the need for measures that would protect the civil and human rights of individual Canadians.

Commemorative plaque: no plaque installedFootnote 1

Cunningham v. Tomey Homma

Prominent Japanese Canadian Tomekichi “Tomey” Homma fought a landmark legal battle in 1900–1903 against a provision of the British Columbia Provincial Elections Act, which barred Asian Canadians and First Nations from voting. While he won in the lower and superior courts, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England, then Canada’s highest court of appeal, upheld the Act, affirming the power of the provinces to disqualify voters on the basis of “race.” The injustice of this legal precedent inspired generations of activists who fought to secure equal voting rights for all Canadians, which was achieved only in 1960.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
English plaque inscription
Black and white historic portrait of a man
Tomekichi Homma, circa 1900
© Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre / Accession number: NNM 2013-55-4

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