Culture

From Race Around the World Series: Chinese-Canadian. Part 14

There’s a bunch of juicy topics I haven’t blogged much in Cycle Write yet –racism, identity and immigration. Yes, there could be personal stories, musings and strong opinions that I could stuff my blog like a bloated fish.   Instead for now, I took up the invitation of another blogger, Holistic Wayfarer and answered questions for her blog.

A Canadian perspective: through Canadian eyes with an Asian face.

A Canadian perspective: through Canadian eyes with an Asian face.

For the past few months, she has featured in her blog, a series “Race Around the World”. In each blog post for “Race Around the World”, a guest reader responds to questions in order to draw upon their personal reflections on race relations, identity and social relationships.  So here is my profile on her blog, my responses to her suite of questions.

I tip my hat to Holistic Wayfarer, a Korean-American who is a grammar warrior and bloggerholic. She has been a patient and generous wordsmithing tactician with her profiler-readers for the Race Around the World series.  Thank you, HW!  By comparison, I’m an absolute sloth by blogging once or twice each month. I hope you read the post there and drop your comments or chat up here.

Maybe I’ll blog more on such heavy duty topics over time.   By the way, I think there are some similarities between race relations work and cycling advocacy –in some tangential way. They are both about marginality, equity and integration in completely different worlds. However, there IS a cross-over between the 2 worlds.

True to my lazy words from the blogging couch, for now I’ll just drop a few personal photos, some blog links after the excerpt from her blog post:

1) How do you define yourself racially or ethnically and why is it important to you?

Chinese-Canadian or Canadian-born Chinese. My partner is German-Canadian. We’ve been together over 20 yrs.

2) Where do you live? If you have ever moved, whether to another city or the other side of the world, please tell us when and where, and the ways the cultural differences between the places shaped or made you think about your identity.

I’m in Calgary, a city of over 1.3 million people in Alberta, a province of Canada. This city is a big contrast to Vancouver and Toronto where I also lived for over 30 years. These cities have higher proportions of Asian-Canadians who can be quite vocal. Calgary is still quite conservative in areas of social justice, which includes race relations. This means far more subdued self-expression. I grew up not far from Toronto: Waterloo had a German-Mennonite base which throws Canada’s largest Oktoberfest annual festival. I had German-Canadian classmates who proudly wore their dirndls and lederhosen during Oktoberfest week. I thought every city had traditional Mennonites, and discovered I was wrong when I moved to Toronto. I learned about local Mennonite history when I was 13, long before I learned about Chinese-Canadian history in my final year in high school. Prior to that, the curriculum was still stuck in British colonial history and the French-Canadians.  Read on for more.

"Iron Chink", a derogatory name of a fish butchering machine that replaced up to 30 fish cannery workers. In late 19th to 20th century, the fish canneries along the British Columbian coast. Though Caucasians were part of the fish cannery workforce, there were also many locals of Japanese, Chinese and aboriginal descent working long hours.  Georgia Cannery Museum.Richmond, British Columbia 2012.

“Iron Chink”, a derogatory name of a fish butchering machine that replaced up to 30 fish cannery workers. In late 19th to 20th century, the fish canneries along the British Columbian coast. Though Caucasians were part of the fish cannery workforce, there were also many locals of Japanese, Chinese and aboriginal descent working long hours. Georgia Cannery Museum.Richmond, British Columbia 2012.

Local  history timeline. Facts I never knew for Calgary. From 2013 exhibit " Chop Suey on the Prairies" at Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton AB. Exhibit on history and role of Chinese restaurants rural Alberta.

Local milestones and for historical context, Canadian key events timeline. Facts I never knew for Calgary. From 2013 exhibit ” Chop Suey on the Prairies” at Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton AB. Exhibit on history and role of Chinese restaurants in rural Alberta.

11 thoughts on “From Race Around the World Series: Chinese-Canadian. Part 14

  1. Your post – like your blog – is a veritable museum; the pix are really amazing. Here, the iron chink, in particular. Very good descriptions, Jean. Though you may have inflated me, you actually did capture my passion in all I do on my blog. I really appreciate the acknowledgement. And you’ve been a trooper, slogging through A-Z with me.

    Then again, I’d expect nothing less from a cyclist who has weathered it all.

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    • Hey yea, HW it’s reflected in our blog names: We’re both long-time travellers and we love exploring our worlds in space, time and mind!

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  2. Interesting! I wanted to interview my Asian friends in Thailand and do something similar. Based on what I have read on your site, and over that the Wayfarer, I’m liking it already. :D

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    • That would be interesting, Lani. I personally don’t anyone of Thai descent / origins. Does the history of Thailand include situations of the Thai ever being the conquerors or colonizers?

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      • Thais are very proud of the fact that they have never been colonized, unlike their neighbors. However, they have had plenty of skirmishes and battles w/ Laos, Vietnam and Burma.

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