Vancouver Sun: 100 Influential Chinese Canadians in BC… agree/disagree?
The Vancouver Sun published its pick of 100 most influential Chinese Canadians today.
They write that senior editors and writers created a preliminary list
that was then scrutinized by their colleagues at Chinese newspapers who
added more names. Next they consulted with officials at
Univeristy of BC and Simon Fraser University, then with “trusted
100 ranking, or compehensive in any hierarchical way. We see it
more as a n assembly of individuals who have made significant
contributions in their respective fields. We have tried to
balance the various areas of endeavor, gender and geographical
origin. Where necessary, we opted to include people whose
influence is already well-established, rather than younger people with
We opened the list to anyone living and working in British Columbia on
a permanent basis, whter they are Canadian citizens, or longtime
My first reaction was…. this is cool. It's great that the
Vancouver Sun would choose to recognize Chinese Canadians, being the
largest single ethnic group in the Lower Mainland. However over
the past few years I have also criticized the Vancouver Sun for not
paying attention to issues in the same community. I think the
Vancouver Sun and other mainstream media have often relegated important
Canadian issues (of Chinese ancestry) and individuals to the back
pages, or often ignored them.
Witness the very same Saturday paper. “The feature article 100
Influential Chinese Canadians in BC”is on the front page. But one
of the most important issues in Chinese Canadian history is relegated
to the backwater of page B8 – with only a green headline banner on page
B1 – the front page of the Westcoast section. The Globe &
Mail put head tax on page 1 of their BC section with a colour
photograph, whereas the Vancouver Sun had only a black and white photo.
It's nice to see friends Sid Tan, Don Montgomery, David Wong, Roy Mah, Sandra Wilking, Mary-Woo
Sims, and many others that I have known such as Ray Mah, Raymond Louie, Jenny Kwan, Bill Chu, Milton Wong, Bob Lee,
Lydia Kwa, Maggie Ip, Robert Fung, Andrea Eng, Paul Wong, and Eleanor
My next thoughts were that the list was missing many people that have
been my own role models amongst my influences. People like Joe
architect of the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens and many other prominant
projects in Chinatown, Beverly Nann OBC former social worker and former
president of explorASIAN (Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society), Jim
Wong-Chu, excutive director and founding member of Asian
Canadian Writers' Workshop and tireless vice-president of
Where is Shirley Chan? Where is her
naturopathic/chiropractic brother Dr. Larry Chan who has done so much for alternative
healing in Vancouver and BC? Where is Simon Johnston, playwright
and executive director of the Gateway theatre? Where is Ken Lum, recently listed in BC Almanac's Greatest British Columbians.
Where is Gabriel Yiu, recently written up in the revised edition of Saltwater City? Where is Thekla Lit, leader of BC Alpha? Both of whom also helped to champion an apology for the Chinese Head Tax.
Why does the list include 16 year old golfer Eugene
Wong and not Lori Fung OBC OC, the Olympic gold medalist for rhythmic
gymnastics? Why pick 16 year old skater Mira Leung, but not veteran Megan Wing who skates pairs with Aaron Lowe (They were both born in Vancouver, but are living in Windsor and training in Michigan – but I am sure they come back from every now and then…)
Why is World Journal editor-in-chief Han Shang Ping on the list when he
has only been in BC for 1 year, and most likely is NOT a Canadian
Can you call somebody a valid Chinese-Canadian if they are NOT a
Canadian citizen. Certainly the Taiwan born Han Shang Ping is of
Chinese ancestry, but I would argue that caucasian SFU professor Jan
Walls has contributed much more to the Chinese-Canadian community and
Jan is a valid Canadian.
Lists are often controversial and the Vancouver Sun has also asked
readers for nominate their own influential Chinese-Canadians by
You can bet that I will be.
Here's some of the introduction of the Vancouver Sun article.
“History lost track of what became of that first “Chinaman,” but his pioneering footsteps cleared a path for innumerable others.
people of Chinese ancestry are the province's most populous ethnic
minority, numbering almost 500,000 in the Lower Mainland. They wield
immense influence on every aspect of our shared society. In field after
field — arts, politics, law, medicine, science, finance, business,
religion, community affairs, philanthropy — Chinese-Canadians have
taken their rightful place as leaders and innovators.
In some ways, this is Canadian multiculturalism at its very best, a colour-blind gathering of talent and shared purpose.
just one problem: For most of our history, we have been anything but
colour-blind. It wasn't the Anglo-Europeans of British Columbia who had
to fight for the right to belong, or who endured a century of racism of
the most despicable and institutionalized sort. It wasn't the
Anglo-Europeans who were reminded over and over, for generations, that
they were different, lesser than other Canadians: required to pay taxes
but not allowed to vote.
These dark facts make the contemporary
accomplishments of Chinese-Canadians in B.C. all the more impressive.
Not only have they distinguished themselves in so many ways, but
Chinese-Canadians have done so against a background of racism and
discrimination that only just began to abate in the second half of the
Prejudice has finally given way to politeness, but
our divisive history lives on in the way the Anglo-European majority
and the so-called Chinese community (actually not one homogenous group,
but many sub-groups divided along linguistic, political and cultural
lines) continue to conduct themselves as two solitudes: nodding
acquaintances who sometimes still ignore one another.”