by Shan Qiao in Scarborough, Ontario  

Seven Conservative candidates representing Greater Toronto Area (GTA) ridings with a significant presence of ethnic Chinese voters came together on Tuesday to promote their party platform.

The Chinese Canadian Conservative Association (CCCA) organized the event for the Chinese language media.

The seven candidates who participated were Bin Chang representing for Scarborough-Agincourt; Joe Daniel, for Don Valley North; Jobson Easow for Markham-Thornhill; Maureen Harquail for Don Valley East; Chungsen Leung for Willowdale; Michael Parsa for Richmond Hill; and Bob Saroya for Markham-Unionville.

Playing the Chinese heritage card

Apart from Bin who came from Mainland China and Chungsen who was born in Taiwan, most of the other non-Chinese candidates also had immigrant backgrounds.

For example, Parsa, who came to Canada at age six, has his roots in the Iranian community, Saroya immigrated to Canada in 1975 from India and Easow, who was born and brought up in India, came to Canada over two decades ago.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“[A] MP who truly represents people needs to understand Canada’s diversity.”[/quote]

Daniel, who is South Asian, but speaks with a British accent and has a “mainstream” name, said he has supporters from every community. Born in Tanzania to Indian parents, he went to school in India and started his career in England before coming to Canada.

During the event, he contrasted his support base with that of his Liberal rival Geng Tan, who has publicly asked voters of Chinese heritage to vote for him.

Tan’s supporters have shared WeChat messages such as “He (Tan) represents the Liberal that is more friendly to Chinese”; “Without a Mandarin-speaking Chinese politician in the Parliament, who will speak for our Chinese people?”; or “Who will you vote for, a Chinese or an Indian?”

Daniel showed these messages to the media, but shrugged off his challenger.

“Chinese communities are split in three ways: Taiwanese, Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese,” Daniel said. “His (Tan’s) appeal is to Mainland Chinese. Many of them are completely opposed to what he says. I have a lot of Chinese supporters coming out and canvassing for me who say what he says is wrong.”

Daniel’s close caucus member, Willowdale incumbent Chengsun, is against ethno-centric campaign strategies.

In reference to a Globe and Mail article earlier this year that said “Toronto’s suburbs are shaping up to be a Mandarin-speaking powerhouse for the federal Liberal Party,” Chengsun had this to say:

“What is a powerhouse? A powerhouse is the MP that most represents his constituents and [speaks] for them in the House of Commons. Plus, a MP who truly represents people needs to understand Canada’s diversity.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“If you rely solely on the Chinese vote, you are going to lose.”[/quote]

He went on to add, “If you rely solely on Chinese vote, you are going to lose because that’s not representing all Canadians, that doesn’t represent diversity of Canadians. I happen to be Chinese, but I certainly don’t see myself as a Chinese candidate because it’s incorrect.”

He said his message to the Chinese community was to “vote for the government that best represents you.”

Wooing the Chinese vote

Alex Yuen, the president of CCCA indicated that although two of the Conservative candidates were Chinese, the organization’s mission was to hear out voices from all communities.

Nevertheless, the seven candidates who had gathered at an upscale Chinese seafood restaurant in Scarborough were fully prepared to woo the Chinese community with topics that interested them.

They each had a Chinese name that was most likely given to them by their ethnic Chinese volunteers. For instance Saroya’s Chinese name meant “contribute to the country” and Daniel’s meant “stronger and talented.”

“It’s clear that Chinese families share our Conservative values,” said Saroya. “They agree with our low tax, balance budget policies and they do not want marijuana to be legal and accessible like cigarettes and alcohol.”

Harquail, the only native-born candidate, who also happens to be a cousin of late Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, had this to say: “The Prime Minister recognizes the outstanding contributions that Chinese Canadians have made.”

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Published in Politics
Thursday, 27 August 2015 08:40

Richmond Residents Divided on Immigration

by Deanna Cheng (@writerly_dee) in Richmond, British Columbia

If Joseph Martinez was given the option, he would “export half of the population of Richmond back to China.”

Owner of Little Paws Animal Clinic and resident of the newly created federal riding of Steveston - Richmond East in British Colombia, Martinez is upset by the “arrogance” of immigrants.

His is part of a growing undercurrent of anti-immigrant sentiment in the riding.

Along with contiguous riding of Richmond Centre from which it was partly carved out, this area near Vancouver has a high concentration of visible minorities.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The debate around immigration has long-since been a hot button issue in the area.[/quote]

According to the recently published Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote book by former director-general of Citizenship and Multiculturalism, Andrew Griffith, 43 per cent of Steveston - Richmond East identifies itself as ethnic Chinese and 11 per cent as South Asian, while in Richmond Centre the split is 51 per cent Chinese, five per cent South Asian.

Martinez says for him it isn’t about race per se as he would prefer to have Taiwanese immigrants around because “they’re more respectful.”

In fact, he wants “nice Chinese” people who he defines as anyone who isn’t from Hong Kong and makes an attempt to learn English and “greet other races instead of ignoring them.” He also wants newcomers to respect the rules of the road and not drive recklessly as they do in Asia.

A community divided

The debate around immigration has long-since been a hot button issue in the area, and a letter to the editor in last week’s Richmond News brought it to the fore at the start of the election campaign.

In her letter, reader Emilie Henderson expressed her frustrations on reading letters from other residents about their dislike of new immigrants and the change that comes with them.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]I read these letters and feel anger at the pure ignorance and lack of perspective of these ‘locals’, descendants of immigrants who likely faced similar hurdles in their adaptation to this country.[/quote]

“Week after week, I read these letters and feel anger at the pure ignorance and lack of perspective of these ‘locals’, descendants of immigrants who likely faced similar hurdles in their adaptation to this country populated by immigrants,” she wrote.

Henderson goes on in her letter to say Richmond is a wonderful place to live because of its diversity, not in spite of it.

Steveston resident Lori Crump says she is inclined to partially agree with Henderson as immigration has its good outcomes too.

Out on an evening bicycle ride by the water, Crump says her relative’s property value going up is one such positive. “You also learn more about other cultures. There were some Russians who came in. Mandarin. It’s all over the map.”

However, she says more regulation on immigration is needed – something electoral candidates Kenny Chiu (Conservative), Joe Peschisolido (Liberal), Scott Stewart (New Democratic Party) and Laura-Leah Shaw (Green Party) should debate on in the coming weeks.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]The decision to stop businesswoman Wendy Yuan from seeking nomination seems to have upset many ethnic Chinese supporters of the [Liberal] party.[/quote]

But the Liberal nomination in the riding itself had its own share of controversy. The decision to stop businesswoman Wendy Yuan from seeking nomination seems to have upset many ethnic Chinese supporters of the party.

The acclamation of Peschisolido, a former Richmond MP who was elected in 2000 under the Canadian Alliance banner, is seen as an attempt by the Liberals to field someone with sufficient right-wing credentials to breach a Conservative stronghold.

Alice Wong, the Conservative incumbent in neighbouring Richmond Centre, won her seat in 2011 with over 58 per cent of the votes. This time around she will be competing for votes from her own ethnic group as the Liberals have fielded Lawrence Woo and the Greens Vincent Chui. Jack Trovado is running for the NDP.

More accepting than Vancouver 

But whether attitudes around immigration will shape the election outcome in both the Richmond ridings remains a moot issue.

When New Canadian Media hit the streets for a straw poll, it found most people were welcoming and open to immigrants.

Simon Fraser University (SFU) student Fran Li, who grew up in Steveston before moving into a suburban neighbourhood of Richmond, said the city had a “pretty good attitude” towards immigrants.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“It was important to have a bigger perspective of the world.”[/quote]

Based on her experience of travelling between Vancouver and Richmond to attend SFU’s downtown Vancouver campus, the 19 year old feels more accepted in Richmond. She shared an example of a panhandler in Vancouver telling her to go back to Asia when she ignored him.

Li says her high school had more multicultural events due to international transfer students. It even had a multicultural club, which she enjoyed.

Those school events helped her learn more about the world as opposed to just what’s happening locally. “It was important to have a bigger perspective of the world.”


Published in partnership with Asian Pacific Post

Published in Top Stories

by Truman Kwan (@TrumanKwan) in Toronto

When countries experience turbulent times, large populations of people often look to migrate. Canada is often a country people seek out. Hong Kong is no exception. In the 1980s and ’90s, both the hand off of the island’s sovereignty between the U.K. and China as well as the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, led to mass migrations of Hong Kongers to Canada, as well as the United States and Australia.

With the recent Occupy Central movement – which started when associate law professor for the University of Hong Kong, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, called upon thousands of protestors to “paralyze” the streets of Hong Kong’s financial hub – it seems turbulent times have again surfaced. Something that started as a peaceful protest soon turned into a chaotic battlefield. The protest, which many students were involved in, aimed to send a message to the Beijing and Hong Kong governments to implement a fair election in 2017 for the chief executive position in Hong Kong.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]So with many against the movement, the question is will history repeat itself? Will the chaotic situation of Occupy Central lead to a spike in migration from Hong Kong?[/quote]

A recent survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong showed that 83 per cent of Hong Kongers want Occupy Central to end. The survey also showed that about 55 per cent of the 513 survey respondents said they are opposed to the movement and only 28 per cent supported it.

So with many against the movement, the question is will history repeat itself? Will the chaotic situation of Occupy Central lead to a spike in migration from Hong Kong to nations like Canada, the U.S. and Australia?

Researchers Say No

Ronald Skeldon, a professor in the department of geography in the school of global studies at the University of Sussex, has spent a number of years studying Hong Kong migration. He recently worked on a study titled Hong Kong’s Future Population and Manpower Needs to 2030. He says he doesn’t think the number of Hong Kong immigrants arriving in Canada this year will change much from previous years (in recent years Canada has seen its most immigrants arrive from mainland China, India and the Philippines, he says). As for Occupy Central, he says it all started with a group of people wishing to change the voting system in Hong Kong, which indicates a loyalty to their nation.

“[The protesters] could be seen as committed to Hong Kong,” he explains. “They will presumably not want to leave,” adding that this could change if there is increased amounts of violence.

Skeldon also does not see any lasting effects in Occupy Central that would make people want to emigrate from Hong Kong.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“Hong Kong still functioned, and people were still attracted to the city.” - Ronald Skeldon, University of Sussex professor[/quote]

“Members of the public, while inconvenienced, were still making money,” he says. “Hong Kong still functioned, and people were still attracted to the city.”

According to Skeldon, he doesn’t believe there would be any major increase of immigrants landing in Canada. Even if there were an influx of Hong Kong immigrants, the overall numbers would not be more than the previous years, he adds. Skeldon says he expects the likes of Ukraine and the “troubled” countries of the Middle East to be more growing sources of immigrants than Hong Kong. He doesn’t see this changing anytime soon.

What the Community Says

Philip Woo, born in Canada and now living in Hong Kong, working at the country’s South China Morning Post news publication, is in agreement with Skeldon. He doesn’t see why most Hong Kongers would feel the need to leave unless they were affected directly by the Occupy movement – that is, living in the Central or Mong Kok districts where the protests actually take place. “If people had the option to [migrate], then yes,” Woo says. “But not everyone is like that.”

Sandra Kong emigrated from Hong Kong to Canada in 1995 and has lived in Toronto for 20 years. Kong, 53, is just one of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese living in Canada. Before emigrating, she worked at Occidental Chemical Company in China as executive secretary for John Kamm, who is the founder of the human rights group Dui Hua Foundation.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“China is still far from achieving a democratic government, so people are likely to leave for the west until it does.” - Sandra Kong, Canadian resident[/quote]

Having migrated to Canada during the ’90s, Kong sees things differently than Woo and Skelton. Kong says the increase of Chinese immigrants in Canada is very likely, and at the same time, very promising.

“There are lots of learned individuals in China who are pro-democracy,” she explains. “China is still far from achieving a democratic government, so people are likely to leave for the west until it does.”

Looking at the Occupy movement, Kong says there will be a portion of Hong Kongers that will in fact look to migrate elsewhere, Canada being one viable option.

She also says she would agree with those who wish to immigrate away from Hong Kong, not so much because of the short-term damage the Occupy movement has done to the city, but because it is breeding a distorted representation of democracy. Kong says that distorted democracy is what will cause long-term damages to Hong Kong.

“[The protesters’] actions are not only disruptive to the city, but it’s motivated by selfish intents,” she states.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]“Hong Kongers will think about moving out of the city, but it might not be immediately. It will really depend on whether the situation gets worse. - Janie Lau, Hong Kong resident [/quote]

Janie Lau has yet a different opinion. Currently studying in Hong Kong, Lau supports the Occupy movement, but at times even she considered leaving there due to the state of how things were looking. Lau says she had thought about starting a life in Canada, as she has relatives living in Toronto.

“Hong Kongers will think about moving out of the city, but it might not be immediately,” explains Lau. “It will really depend on whether the situation gets worse, and by the time the problem is resolved, there would be no point in emigrating.”

She explains that leaving home is a difficult choice, and most people in Hong Kong don’t have the option to emigrate. Lau says the house prices in Hong Kong are increasing each year, and it’s difficult to find another place once you leave.

“We try and push the Hong Kong government to promise us a better life, and we are still trying,” she says. “But there is no guarantee that we will also find that better life right away after emigrating to somewhere else.”

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Published in China

by Tung Chan (@28WPender) in Vancouver

The federal election season is fast approaching. The BC civic election was a mere three months ago. Every aspiring federal politician will try to vie for the attention of every eligible voter. With so many residents speaking Chinese in the lower mainland and Greater Toronto, getting their attention in their own language seems to be a good thing for politicians to do.

The Chinese language media is a force of its own. If you have attended any political media conferences lately, you will notice the number of reporters representing Chinese language media organizations out-number the English language media outlets. They are diligent and report news almost verbatim from what was said and what was in the press kit.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]A case in point is how NPA’s Vancouver mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe’s name appeared in various Chinese newspapers when he first announced his candidacy. You don't need to know how to read Chinese to see that they all look different.[/quote]

They will, for the benefit of their consumers, translate the English proper names into Chinese. If a Chinese name was not provided, each news outlet will make up a phonetically translated name base on the mother tongue of the translator.

A case in point is how NPA’s Vancouver mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe’s name appeared in various Chinese newspapers when he first announced his candidacy. You don't need to know how to read Chinese to see that they all look different: Ming Pao Daily (明報): “拉波特", Sing Tao Daily (星島日報): “拉波因特”, World Journal (世界日報): “拉龐特”, Dawa Business Press (大華商報): “凱克.拉波特". Together, these four dailies have a daily circulation in the low six figures and reach about one in five Chinese-Canadians in the lower mainland.

Can you imagine what kind of a nightmare it would be if you try to promote yourself as a politician to the Chinese-Canadian readers of these four newspapers? LaPointe’s team soon caught on and issued an official Chinese name for him: 賴普德. 

Creating a Chinese Name

There are generally four ways to generate a Chinese name from English. They are i) literal translation, ii) pure phonetic translation, iii) beautified phonetic translation and iv) trans-creation.

The first method, literal translation, is the most simple. This method of name creation is more applicable for organizations where their name has a meaning and less useful for individuals whose names usually carry no meaning. This method is particularly appropriate when the name has a positive connotation in Chinese. For example, the Royal Bank’s name in Chinese is 皇家銀行, which literally means Royal Bank. This method may not be as appropriate if the translated name is not so positive in the target market. For example, Volkswagen could be translated into 大眾汽車. The name was not used because “common people’s automobile” may not be the image it wants to project to the Hong Kong Chinese consumers. So it calls itself in Hong Kong 福士, a name translated using the pure phonetic translation method that means “good fortune person”. (Volkswagen uses 大眾汽車 in Mainland China, as the name is more acceptable in that market.)

The second method, pure phonetic translation, is a standard translation method used by official news outlets in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The aforementioned Chinese names for LaPointe used by the four local Chinese language outlets are generated based on this method. However, because the same Chinese character is pronounced differently in Cantonese (used mainly in Hong Kong) and Mandarin (used in China and Taiwan), the same English name is assigned different Chinese characters depending on the language spoken by the translator. To understand how this works, imagine how the numeric symbols 1, 2, 3, etc. are pronounced differently by English, French and German speakers even though the symbols are the same.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Our mind is set up to learn by association. It is difficult for Chinese speakers to associate a pure phonetically translated name to something in their memory bank.[/quote]

I still remember when I was a youngster living in Hong Kong, I was confused when reading news about the US. I was confused because U.S. President Kennedy was known as 甘迺迪 in the Hong Kong based newspapers and 肯尼迪 in the Mainland China based newspapers. For a while, I mistakenly thought the U.S. had two presidents.

This method of translation is not very helpful if your aim is to create a memorable name in the minds of Chinese speaking consumers. Our mind is set up to learn by association. It is difficult for Chinese speakers to associate a pure phonetically translated name to something in their memory bank. To understand this point, see if you can register the name “Tung Yun Tong” in your mind. The name is just three meaningless sounds that you would have a hard time to visualize. However, to most Canadians who speak Chinese, 同仁堂 is a well-known, respected and established traditional Chinese herbal store. It is with this understanding in mind that the Bank of Nova Scotia stopped some years ago from using 士高沙 (a pure phonetic translation of the word Scotia) as their official Chinese name.

The third method, beautified phonetic translation, is the most commonly used method. This is a modified approach of the pure phonetic translation method. The starting point of this method is the phonetic pronunciation of the name followed by choosing culturally meaningful homonyms. The official Chinese name for the aforementioned LaPointe, 賴普德, was arrived at by such a method. The three Chinese characters are pronounced in Cantonese as Lai Po Dug and approximate LaPointe.  

The word 賴 is a common Chinese surname; 普 means general, universal or popular, while 德 means virtue or moral. Thus, 賴普德 is far better than the pure phonetic name 拉波特 used by one of the local Chinese language newspapers. Another such example is the Chinese name for the Toronto Dominion Bank. It dropped the pure phonetic name of 道美寅 in favour of the beautified phonetic name of 道明. Both of the Chinese names were based on the word “dominion”. 道美寅 has no consequential meaning while 道明 means a “bright pathway”.  

The Chinese name for Coca-Cola, 可口可樂, is another wonderful example. The four Chinese characters are pronounced in Mandarin as Kē Kou Kē Lè and can roughly be translated as, “pleases your mouth, makes you happy.” 

The fourth method, trans-creation, is by far the most powerful, but less used one. This method is used almost exclusively for commercial entities and rarely used by individuals. The starting point of this method of name generation is to crystallize the essence of the resulting image one wants to project onto the consumer. The second step is to pick a name that best reflects that essence, but doesn’t necessarily bear any relationship to the actual English name. Thus the HK and Shanghai Bank becomes 匯豐銀行 (plentiful remittance bank), the Bank of Nova Scotia becomes 豐業銀行 (plentiful business bank) and Manulife Financial becomes 宏利財務 (grand profit financial). The Chinese names of all three examples cited above resonate with people who understand Chinese and is by far the most effective way to brand a product unless you are working with a pan cultural name like “Apple” 萍果.

Good luck in picking a powerful Chinese name this election.

This article first appeared here on Choice Communications' blog. 

Tung Chan is Chairperson of the Board of Trustees at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and an Honorary Captain of the Royal Canadian Navy. Tung is also a member of the Board of the Vancouver Foundation, the Rick Hansen Institute and the Canadian Foundation Of Economic Education. From 2006 to 2010, Tung was the CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a social service agency in British Columbia. He is among this year's recipients of the Order of British Columbia.







Published in Commentary
Thursday, 03 July 2014 04:00

History repeating itself in Vancouver

by Kevin Chong (@kevinchong1975) in Vancouver

Within the animal kingdom, there are few images more compellingly grotesque than the Rat King. A cluster of vermin that has been fused together through blood, dirt, and excrement, the Rat King is a harbinger of disease and an omen of pestilence.

While the Vancouver School Board’s new policy with regards to students who identify as transgender and non-gender conforming started out as a set of guidelines to ameliorate the development of children who don’t see themselves fitting into the boy-girl paradigm, it’s since the knotted together the city’s ugliest problems: transphobia, anti-Chinese racism, the retrograde values of some immigrant communities, and real estate-related avarice. The controversy has formed the Rat King of Vancouver’s social ills.

Let’s start at the top: in the spring, the Vancouver School Board set out to update its policy to support LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) students, which was established in 2004. The proposed update allows students to be called by a name of their self-identified gender (and to be referred to by the pronoun of their choice). Students will also have access to gender-neutral, handicap-accessible washrooms. On a case-by-case basis, they will be allowed to play on the sports team and use the washrooms of the gender they associate themselves with. Advocates of this policy argue that the elevated risk of suicide and self-harm among trans youth is reason enough to enhance their support.

In May, the policy was met with concerted opposition from a group led by Cheryl Chang, the president of Lord Byng Secondary’s Parents Action Committee (PAC). Chang argued that the policy required input from medical professionals. She also took issue with the policy that allows students, especially those in primary-school age, to confide with their teachers without the knowledge or consent of their parents. At a widely attended and contentious PAC meeting, Byng parents voted for Chang to withdraw her letter and write a letter of apology to the VSB.

Mobilizing opposition

The debate didn’t stop there; it changed focus and reeled in other populations and biases. Earlier in June, two school trustees, Ken Denike and Sophia Woo, organized a press conference at a Chinese restaurant, protesting the policy. The city’s ethnic Chinese population was not properly informed about the policy change and thus unable to mobilize and voice their opposition.

Furthermore, Denike suggested that, based on conversations from unnamed realtors, the city’s international enrollments in Vancouver schools and property values might decline as a result of the decision. This suggestion is especially explosive given the fact that links between the city’s spiking real-estate prices and Chinese immigration have been deemed racist. Only when the beliefs of some Chinese are threatened, the spectre of property values is invoked.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Only when the beliefs of some Chinese are threatened, the spectre of property values is invoked.[/quote]

For Vancouver Chinese, Denike and Woo’s press conference raised a troubling question: Is the Chinese population transphobic or inherently conservative on social issues?

The problem with this question is that among the 400,000 people of Chinese ancestry are fourth-generation Chinese-Canadians, Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong immigrants who arrived in the 1990s, and more recent arrivals from Taiwan and Mainland China.

Like any diverse population, some Chinese Vancouverites support the VSB policy, some oppose it. To counteract media-generated perceptions, the Georgia Straight even ran an article listing prominent Asian Vancouverites who are gay and trans-friendly (and noted that Chang, while using the Asian surname of her husband, is of European descent). Saying that there is Chinese opposition to LGBTQ+ policy is about as inaccurate and over-generalizing as a newspaper headline that reads, “Ethnic Anglo-Saxon groups are in favour of the Vancouver School Board's new policy on transgender students.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Like any diverse population, some Chinese Vancouverites support the VSB policy, some oppose it.[/quote]

In the past decade, the clashes between Vancouver’s Chinese population (again, some parts of it) and non-Chinese have shown how cultural insensitivity and political incorrectness can flow in two directions.

In 2011, a group of Vancouver condo owners complained when a hospice was planned near their newly built development at the University of British Columbia. They claimed that a culturally imbued fear of ghosts made the hospice’s location undesirable.

Their fears were laughed off as the superstitions of a privileged class of foreigners. As a Hong Kong-born Chinese raised in Canada, I remember laughing myself, but my own mother presents these same concerns when I recently considered moving into the area near Mountain View Cemetery. And if, say, a non-Chinese couple refused to live in a house once they learned an axe-murder had been committed in it—another irrational, death-related fear—would they, too, be excoriated?

Repeating recent history

In recent years, picketers have protested shark-fin soup at Vancouver restaurants. While these campaigners’ environmental concerns are valid, their rhetoric is often inflammatory and vilifying. Their calls for outright bans, instead of reductions or substitutions, show their lack of appreciation for the central place that the dish has in Chinese banquet meals. It’s much easier to attack the odd delicacy of a minority group than it would be to protest a far more environmentally questionable food products like beef (a great producer of carbon) outside of an Earl’s Restaurant.

On the other side, ethnic Chinese who campaign against the customary dish are slurred as “bananas” (i.e. yellow on the outside, white on the inside).

In the case of VSB policy, the basis for Chinese opposition to the policy stems from the Evangelical Christian beliefs that some Chinese adhere to and the social norms of some new immigrants that originated from their less socially progressive homeland. (According to one academic, Dr. Justin Tse, the trans policy is more about parental rights than transphobia among the Chinese community.) Cultural mistranslation among newer Chinese-Canadians might also amplify the extent of the changes proposed by the school board.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]Cultural mistranslation among newer Chinese-Canadians might also amplify the extent of the changes proposed by the school board.[/quote]

Greater outreach among Chinese could balance the more conservative voices. One group seeking to this, the newly established Hua Foundation, founded by a group of 20-something Chinese-Canadians, seeks to make progressive politics a more culturally and ethnically inclusive place. Instead of shaming Chinese couples who serve shark fin soup at their wedding banquets, they’ve started a positive campaign, “Happy Hearts Love Sharks,” that offers a chance at a free honeymoon to couples who find alternatives on their menus.

On June 16th, the VSB voted seven to two in favour of implementing the new policy for the fall. (No students were affected because of the current labour dispute between the B.C. Teacher’s Union and the Ministry of Education that has given kids an early summer break.) School board Patti Bachus said she was proud to be on “the right side of history.”

Socially progressive people might argue this side of history includes those Canadians who supported the rights of Chinese-Canadians to vote in 1947 — a year that’s faraway but within my own parents’ lifetimes. Vancouver, in the 1940s, was an especially racist place. City by-laws, for instance, forbade Chinese restaurateurs from hiring white female staff. We've changed -- but have we changed enough? In retrospect, 1947 feels too late for Chinese-Canadians to be given the vote. Decades in the future, 2014 might feel like too far in time for trans youth to be afforded protection.

As history writes itself again, this Rat King still has life.

Kevin Chong is the author of five books, including Northern Dancer: The Legendary Horse that Inspired a Nation, and teaches at the University of British Columbia.

Related Reading: Vancouver Housing Markets Cannot Fully Escape The Chinese Dragon

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Published in Commentary
Monday, 21 October 2013 23:09

Canadian Citizenship means the world to me

by The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson

I arrived in Canada in 1942, when I was about two and a half years old. My family took refuge here after the Japanese conquered Hong Kong. We were welcomed, and were very fortunate to have a number of people take interest in us; helping neighbours was – and still is – an instinctive Canadian action.    

I became a Canadian citizen when I was 10 years old, and with each passing year, I grow more proud to say I belong to a country that welcomes the world.

Canada is unique in the way we welcome immigrants. People come here in search of a different and better life for themselves and their children, and we open our doors with the shared understanding that their stay is for the long term; roughly 85% of eligible permanent residents become Canadian citizens. We have constructed an inclusive society that accounts for differences. We acknowledge how much courage it requires to start fresh in a new country. Most Canadians believe everyone – regardless of whether they’re Canadian or foreign-born – can be a good citizen. 

In Canada, citizenship enables equal access – it’s the most important thing we have, and share with one another. Canadian citizenship binds us together.

I was the first immigrant to become Governor General, and I’m very proud of that. When it happened, I received many letters from new Canadians who were thrilled that someone with a story like mine could reach the highest office in Canada.

My appointment was proof for new Canadians that Canada is a place where the sky is the limit, and I wanted to do more to ensure new citizens felt they had access to everything Canada has to offer – just as I felt when I was growing up in the country that took us in so generously.

In 2006, I founded the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), a non-profit charity that works to ensure our country’s newest citizens feel welcome and included, and engages all Canadians in active citizenship. We achieve this through programs like our Cultural Access Pass program (CAP), a gift to new citizens and their children that provides a year of free access to cultural places and spaces across the country to connect new citizens to a wealth of Canadian experiences. And, our Building Citizenship programwelcomes and celebrates Canada’s newest citizens by working with a national network of volunteers and our partner, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, to host community citizenship ceremonies with roundtable discussions where community members and new citizens exchange experiences related to being and feeling Canadian.  

The ICC helps create a sense of belonging for all Canadians regardless of whether their family has been here for five years or five generations.

It’s important for all Canadians to make their connection to citizenship: take a moment to welcome a new citizen, play an active role in your community or connect with Canadian culture.

Full citizenship begets full participation in society. All Canadians must take on the role of active engaged citizens – it’s the only way our country can continue to grow.

Editor's Note: To learn more about the Institute for Canadian Citizenship please visit or follow them on Twitter (@ICCICC). This first-person piece is being published as part of Citizenship Week across Canada.

Published in Commentary

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