Historian recognized for documentary film about Kamloops soldier
May 9, 2023
Shannon Ainslie (from iNFOnews)
May 07, 2023 – 8:00 AM
A Burnaby man is being acknowledged for his work uncovering the story of Frederick Lee, a member of the Kamloops Rocky Mountain Rangers and one of only a few Chinese Canadians in the military in World War 1.
Jack Gin created an award-winning documentary Finding Fred Lee that tells of Lee’s experience.
“Through years of research and heartfelt storytelling, Jack has been able to inform the community of Kamloops about a long-lost son and an underknown reserve army regiment,” reads a release by the BC Achievement Foundation issued May 3.
Gin also made sure Lee’s origins were included at the Hill 70 Memorial in France and its feature walkway named after him. Thanks to his work, the story is part of local memorial efforts in schools.
“Sharing Frederick’s sacrifice has instilled pride within the Chinese community in Kamloops and Vancouver while raising awareness,” said the foundation. “Thanks to Jack’s efforts, students learn about Frederick’s participation in World War 1 and how he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.”
Lee’s WW1 documents show he was born in Kamloops and was a farmer by trade. He volunteered for the Canadian Army in 1916 and survived the Battle of Vimy Ridge, but was killed in the Battle of Hill 70. The Hill 70 memorial opened in 2017 on the battle site near Loos, France and was given to Canada by France.
Finding Fred Lee debuted at the Paramount Theatre in Kamloops on March 9 at the 2023 Kamloops Film Festival, and has since been shown at other film festivals, including in France, Italy and Germany.
“I wanted it to debut in Kamloops because for me it was about bringing Fred home,” Gin said. “This was a passion project driven by a sense of duty to do him right.”
In choosing Kamloops for the film debut, Gin was disqualified from presenting at the Toronto Film Festival.
“Fred’s more important, Kamloops is more important, so too bad, so sad Toronto, you can’t have Fred,” he said. “It has been wonderful to make friends in Kamloops, we owe a debt of gratitude to the good people of Kamloops who got behind this.”
Gin said while the documentary is presenting at film festivals it will be awhile before it’s accessible to the general public, he guesses the end of the year. A second film about Fred Lee is already in the works.
Gin is one of 20 recipients of the annual Community Award by the BC Achievement Foundation that recognizes people in the province working to build better communities. Recipients will be acknowledged at a ceremony in Victoria on May 10, with the Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of BC, which will be live-streamed on the foundation’s website here at 2 p.m.