Vancouver is one of North America's centres for Chinese Canadian
culture. Despite Chinese being in Canada since the mid 1800's,
Andy Yan's demographic study shows that our recent Chinese immigrants
greatly outnumber our Canadian born chinese.
How does this impact Chinese Canadian culture? Does it support
it's Canadian-ness as more immigrants seek to integrate and
assimilate? Or is the opposite true, as more and more new
immigrants try to hold onto their Chinese-ness?
This weekend saw the opening of the 6th annual Chinatown Festival. featuring an opening performance from Heartbeat,
many multicultural performances, folk art demonstrations, a youth
talent show, a BMX demonstration. Vancouver's historic Chinatown
has struggled commercially and developmentally with competition
commercial Chinese development in Richmond, Burnaby and more recently
Port Coquitlam. But Vancouver Chinatown has always been
innovative starting up the first night markets, and also the Chinatown
Festival which will feature many attractions for tourists and
Dennis Law, a Chinese-American from Denver – but born in Hong Kong… brings his 4th action-musical to Vancouver. Heartbeat follows this year's Senses,
last year's Terracotta Warriors, and the previous Heaven and
Earth. These are exciting shows that combine Chinese acrobatics,
dance, music and martial arts with a kind of Cirque du Soleil magic and
sensibility. I have enjoyed each of the shows so far and am
amazed at what I continue to learn about Chinese culture – old and
new. Definitely looking forward to seeing Heartbeat after its
original opening was delayed due to the trucker strike in Vancouver.
When I grew up in Vancouver during the 1960's and 1970's, Chinese
immigration was still restricted to family sponsorship, after being
almost completely banned from 1922 to 1947 during the implementation of
the Chinese “Exclusion” Act. It was still a time when my parents
and all our contemporaries still sought to assimilate into Canadian
culture – often at the expense of forsaking anything Chinese that was a
reminder of being treated
as a second class citizen due to the racial discrimination that many Chinese continued to suffer in Canada.
Today, being Chinese in Canada benefits from the many multicultural
festivals, and the fact that many of the new immigrants never knew the
negative identity that many Chinese Canadians had to face.
Chinese Canadian history and community leaders are being accepted as
Canadian history and as Canadian leaders, who just happen to be of