Storyscapes Chinatown: “Know Where You Come From” – Rhonda Larrabee

Storyscapes Chinatown: “Know Where You Come From” – Rhonda Larrabee

This is my cousin Rhonda Larrabee.  Actually she is my mother's
cousin, as Rhonda's father Art Lee, was the elder brother to my
grandmother Mabel (Lee) Mar.  I knew Grand Uncle Art since I was a
child, but I never met Rhonda until we started preparing a family
reunion in 1999 for the Rev. Chan Yu Tan descendants.  Previously
I had heard of Rhonda, and that she had created a family tree, as I had
similarly done.  It was inevitable that we should meet, and
instantly like each other tremendously.

Rhonda is incredible.  She has singlehandedly resurrected the
Qayqayt First Nations Band.  When she first applied for her Indian
status, she was denied and was told that the Qayqayt “didn't exist
anymore.”  Disappointed, she was shocked because clearly she
existed, and her brothers existed, and her mother's siblings still
existed.  A few years later… she applied again and was granted
status.  She was told “I guess you want some land now too.”

Rhonda was the subject of the award winning National Film Board
documentary “Tribe of One,” directed by Eunhee Cha.  It is the
story of Rhonda and how she discovered her First Nations heritage at
the adult age of 24, and how she claimed it, and became elected band
chief.  My grandmother Mabel Mar is interviewed in the film, and
there is also some images of us attending the “Three Chinese Pioneer
Families” photo exhibit at the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum and
Archives in 2002.

I am proud of Rhonda… and she is proud of me.  We
enthusiastically support each other in our endeavors, and especially
with the Rev. Chan Legacy Project, and family reunions.

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