New Canadian Media

Richmond is a great model of multiculturalism. Our No. 5 Road is home to more than twenty prominent places of worship. Some of the world’s major religions – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism – are well represented on this Highway To Heaven. The presence of some very impressive places including a mosque, a gurdwara [...]

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The Link

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Published in Arts & Culture

THE B.C. government is allocating $365,000 for community anti-racism projects. Racism comes in many forms. And so do the ways to address it. Every day people and organizations use art, theatre, community dialogue events and a host of other forms of community engagement to combat racism. Proposals for funding are being accepted in two categories: […]

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Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

THE redesigned Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is accepting applications again effective July 2, 2015. The PNP has reopened after a 90-day pause that allowed the PNP to be redesigned so the Province could maximize the impact of its allocation of 5,500 nominees from the federal government for 2015. The redesign shifts the program’s focus to […]

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Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

IN a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll among 1,268 Canadian voters, well more than a third will vote NDP if a federal election were held today (36%), while just more than a quarter would vote either Liberal or Conservative (28% each). This represents a slight increase for the NDP since last […]

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Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in Politics

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

Twelve tables of mahjong (Chinese tile game) in Vancouver’s Chinatown Memorial Square fill up with fervent game-goers within 15 minutes. Silence quickly turns into chatter mixed with the clickety clack of tiles. A diverse pocket in British Columbia's largest city comes to life.

Last Saturday, a local group called the Youth Collaborative of Chinatown (YCC) hosted a public games night titled, ‘Chinatown Mahjong Social: A Hot and Noisy Night’. The games night was the first to kick off a series of events to regenerate public spaces in Chinatown.

‘Hot and noisy’ is a play on the Cantonese word yitnaau and the Mandarin word renao and loosely translates into a measure of liveliness in an atmosphere.

Mahjong is a game played between four players with a set of 144 tiles inscribed with Chinese characters and symbols. The game is one of skill, strategy and calculation. It also involves a degree of chance – or what some seniors would call luck.

‘Bring Your Own Poh Poh

‘BYOPP – Bring your own poh poh (grandmother)’ called out the youth group’s Facebook post advertising the June 20 event.

Mark Lee did more than that. Along with his grandmother, he brought his boyfriend, his sister and her husband.

The 24-year-old is half-Chinese and half-British; his connection to Chinatown stems from a deep connection to his grandmother.

“When I was little, she’d pick me up from preschool. When we were sick, she was there to make us feel better … and also, make us drink soups.” 

As a kid, Lee would ask her to teach him how to write Chinese and she showed him simple words. When he asked her to teach him Cantonese, she told him to go learn Mandarin. So he did.

The University of British Columbia graduate now has a major in linguistics and a minor in Chinese. He’s also fluent in Mandarin and has a basic understanding of Cantonese.

“The whole reason I’m involved with Chinese was to communicate with Grandma,” Lee says. “It’s been nine years and I still can’t.”

“This is ideal … seeing old folks with young people learning how to play mahjong.” - Mark Lee

One of his goals is to learn Cantonese. Another one is to be part of the revitalization effort of Chinatown and to prevent gentrification.

“I hear stories about people with family in Chinatown, but [they] never come here,” he says.

Lee wants to do more than organize just social events with the YCC. He wants an intergenerational connection. He admits the language barrier can be an obstacle, but points out that there are others who can translate – and that it’s an opportunity to learn the language. All that’s required, he says, is for people to show up to their events.

“This is ideal … seeing old folks with young people learning how to play mahjong.”

Players of All Ages and Ethnicities

Colourful paper lanterns hang on the trees next to where local artist Yule Ken Lum has set up his cart doubling as a makeshift studio. He invites the public to finish decorating the last tiles of his 300-piece mosaic. It depicts the words ‘CHINATOWN’ in a giant heart stencil.

Lum says he is surprised by the age and diversity of the turnout. “At the Chinese chess table, it was good to see a poh poh sitting by a Caucasian girl, like a team.”

“Our goal is to engage youth to take part and do what they’d like to see instead of listening to the ‘doom and gloom’ about Chinatown in the media.” - Doris Chow, Youth Collaborative of Chinatown

Meanwhile, on a board with neon sticky notes, participants write suggestions for future events. Some ideas include: tai chi, line dancing and outdoor film screenings.

As all the tables of mahjong fill up, passersby appear disappointed so event organizer Kathryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon (pictured above on the right) offers to set them up with Chinese chess and Chinese checkers. They choose to watch instead.

Resisting Chinatown’s ‘Doom and Gloom’

Vancouver’s Chinatown spans about a nine-block radius, not including the residential area. It is part of the downtown eastside, one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods and is commonly referred to as ‘Canada’s poorest postal code’.

In recent years, Chinatown has undergone large and rapid development projects, including sky-high condominiums occupied with young urbanites that don’t speak Chinese, construction plans for water main upgrades along Pender Street, located near the centre of Chinatown and the end of the Chinatown Night Market. But there is still more work to be done.

“Our goal is to engage youth to take part and do what they’d like to see instead of listening to the ‘doom and gloom’ about Chinatown in the media,” explains YCC member Doris Chow (pictured above on the left).

Seniors often want to communicate their history with youth, but don't know how to go about it, she adds. “The YCC can work as translators to help shrink the intergenerational gap.”

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Arts & Culture

With our hands on our hearts, we send our deepest condolences to the families whose relatives perished in the Ghana Oil (GIOL) station fire outbreak and floods in certain parts Accra on June 3, 2015. We extend our hearts and hands of solidarity to the survivors of the twin disasters”
A news release issued by the Ghanaian Canadian Association of British Columbia (GCABC) and signed by its president, Dr. Charles Quist-Adade said. The release added that the Ghanaian community in British (...)

- African News

The Patriotic Vangaurd

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Published in Africa

THE City of Surrey has been named as the top destination in Metro Vancouver for starting a new small business. The report by Vancity has Surrey as the best place for aspiring entrepreneurs due to its growing population, affordable business and residential property and low costs of doing business. “Small businesses are the backbone of […]

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Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in Economy

 Gangs have moved operations to the North because of police pressure in Lower Mainland     BY RATTAN MALL   IT’S true that we don’t see as many gang members dying today as we did many years ago, but they are still being killed because of who they are associated with. Since the August 2011 […]

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Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

PREMIER Christy Clark on Friday invited yogis from around British Columbia to roll out their mats, practise their favourite pose and help make history on the Burrard Street Bridge for the International Day of Yoga (IDY). YYoga,  lululemon athletica, and Altagas are partnering with the Province to join jurisdictions from around the globe to celebrate […]

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Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in Arts & Culture

THE Government of B.C. is investing an additional $10 million to increase surgical capacity throughout the province this year, including increasing surgical slates in the coming months for patients who have waited more than 40 weeks for surgery. “I understand that waiting for surgery is frustrating, and the solution is more than just […]

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Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in Health

Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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