We’ve updated our “About us” info.
On it, we write:
… if they can have “Taiwanese Chinese” day and “Hong Kong Chinese day” in Vancouver, it’d be nice if we can also celebrate “Canadian born Chinese” day too.
Our French Canadian citizens celebrate their unique culture and heritage. Maybe it’s time we do the same for the unique Canadian born Chinese culture too.
But what is this “unique” Canadian Chinese thing?
Well… we hope this blog will explore this thought and share a few interesting ideas on what it is to be banana.
Yes, there will be the occasional whiney blog post. Whining… that’s just a Canadian thing.
It’s interesting to note that a number of the Chinese Cultural Centre websites across Canada showcase the history and legacy of the Chinese Canadian contribution to nation building.
A lot of relevant information on the history of Chinese Canadians in Canada – about past efforts and some thoughts on past struggles.
However, when one views Vancouver’s Chinese Cultural Centre website … we often wonder why it contains very little on Chinese Canadian history.
Sure, there is the “Chinatown walking tour”, but there is very little else on a people’s history.
We often find material on Taiwanese and mainland Chinese events and festivals, but surely, there must be something that is of interest to a city that has a sizeable Chinese Canadian population with a long history.
A criticism often heard of Vancouver’s Chinese Cultural Centre is its ratty museum exhibit. This “exhibit” is essentially, a borrowed, left over remnant of an earlier pioneer Chinese Canadian exhibit that first appeared at Science World 10+ years ago. Even the photocopied information sheets that accompany the dusty photo exhibits have faded.
Not only does Vancouver’s CCC showcase non-Canadian material, the website is hardly ever updated. Some of its web information is years out of date.
April 2010 screen capture from Vancouver’s CCC website
poster dates indicate 2006!? Time to update it eh?
It really is quite embarrassing.
Compare this to other Chinese Cultural Centre websites across Canada.
Take for example, the Chinese Cultural Centre in Calgary. First thing you’d notice, is, it’s in the English language!
Second noticeable thing, is that they proudly write about their Chinese Canadian heritage – past, present and future.
Here is a portion of some of their material, under their “History” section:
Link to history
When the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was completed in 1885, British Columbia was hit with a recession, leaving thousands of Chinese labourers unemployed and impoverished. While some had enough money to return to China, others took refuge in British Columbia’s few crowded Chinatowns, still others headed east towards Alberta in search of greater job opportunities. Instead of a better life, however, they were greeted with racial rage and mob attacks.
The Evolution of Calgary’s Chinatown
Since its creation over 100 years ago, Calgary’s Chinatown has survived numerous obstacles, from forced relocation to racist attacks to possible demolition. Despite these threats, Chinese pioneers and their descendants found ways to protect and reinvent Chinatown. Today, the once segregated “ghetto” is more accepted as a part of Calgary.
Early Occupations of Chinese Workers in Alberta
Arriving in Edmonton around 1918, Dan Mah recalls working 16 hour days, seven days a week in one of the city’s many laundries. In return for his hard work, he received 50 cents a day. “That means I made about $15 a month,” he reflected. Mah’s experience was not uncommon in the years before the Second World War in Alberta. Due to systemic barriers and racial discrimination, most Chinese had virtually no choice but to toil in low-paying service jobs if they were to make a living.
Chinese Bachelor Societies in Alberta
During the early 20th century, Chinese men far outnumbered Chinese women throughout North America as well as in Alberta. The 1931 Census reveals that in the male-to-female ratio was 12:1 in Calgary and 17:1 in Edmonton. Most of these men were so-called “married bachelors” as they had wives and children in China but lived like single men. This was not out of choice. Rather they were prevented from brining their families to Canada due to restrictive immigration polices.
Early Chinese Resistance in Alberta
Chinese pioneers were undoubtedly treated as second-class citizens in Alberta. They were subjected to mob violence, schoolboy taunts, and vicious attacks by the local press. They were further oppressed by discriminatory policies that curtailed their life choices and eliminated their right to citizenship, to vote and to enter certain occupations. They were not helpless victims, however. On various occasions, early Chinese Albertans challenged and sometimes triumphed over unfair practices and racist acts of aggression.
Chinese Women in Early Alberta
Although Chinese women have made invaluable contributions to Alberta over the years, their history has been largely ignored. This is partly because there were so few Chinese women in the province prior to the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1947. At the beginning of the Second World War, there were only 305 Chinese women in Alberta compared to 2,817 men.  Aside from the sex-ratio disparity, pioneer women were often illiterate and left few writings. Moreover, history books typically focus on the experiences of Chinese men.