GENERATIONS: The Chan Legacy airs today 10pm on CBC Newsworld

GENERATIONS: The Chan Legacy airs today 10pm on CBC Newsworld

  10:00 p.m. Generations: The Chan Legacy
– Missionaries from China come to the West Coast help Westernize Chinese immigrant workers in the late 1800's.
Generations: The Chan Legacy

Yesterday I
was interviewed 8:20 am Tuesday morning, July 3rd, by Rick Cluff for the CBC Radio 690 show “The Early Edition.”  Rick first asked me how I got interested in family history, and I replied that one of the first computer programs I got was for genealogy.

I had found it fascinating that we were descended from a Chinese United Church minister. It was important for me to find positive role models growing up, because as a Chinese-Canadian, there weren't many.  I grew up in North Vancouver, and many people couldn't tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese back then. Some people would tell me to go back where I came from.

I brought some photo displays into the radio studio and Rick asked about them.

“Here's a picture of Rev. Chan Yu Tan” when he first arrived in Canada in 1896.”

Here's a picture of Uncle Dan and his brothers during WW2″

“Here's a picture of our family reunion in 1999.”

“How many people attended, Todd?”

“We had over 200 people, from all across the continent Rick – from Ontario, Alberta, Washington, California.”

Rick asked what I hoped the younger generations would learn from the story.  I told him that it was important for our younger generations to learn what our ancestors had overcome, such as the head tax, the 1907 riot, the exclusion act, gaining the voting franchise.  And that it is an important story for all Canadians.  Too often as multigenerational Chinese-Canadians we get lumped in with the new immigrants as “Chinese” – even though our family has been here for seven generations.

Rick asked “What would Rev. Chan think of Gung Haggis Fat Choy”

 but our family didn't go to Church. When I was little, I attended one day of class at the Chinese United Church.  I was little and cried for my mother almost the entire time. 

But the legacy of Rev. Chan Yu Tan and his brother and sisters still lives in our family.  It lives on in the stories that my grandmother and my mother have shared with me.  My grand-uncle Daniel Lee and his sister Helen Lee, lived with Rev. and Mrs. Chan Yu Tan in Nanaimo while they were growing up.  Auntie Helen recalls her memories while she is interviewed for the documentary.  There are some newsclips of Uncle Dan and Chinese-Canadian veterans at Vancouver's Victory Square cenotaph for Remembrance Day.

Many of our family is excited at seeing the documentary tonight.  I have received e-mails from Ontario, and Washington.  Distant family members I haven't met have found the Rev. Chan Legacy facebook page:

Here are some well wishes from my friends after hearing me on radio and receiving my announcements about GENERATIONS: The Chan Legacy

Good morning Todd, just heard you on CBC Early Edition about your family.  
I look forward to watching it tomorrow night on CBC Newsworld at 10 p.m.
I hope some of our colleagues will watch some of the Chinese history in
Vancouver. You may wish to tell us something more about this 6-part series
on Chinese pioneers in Vancouver.
- Kelly Ip (Community organizer and advisor on Canadian Club Vancouver)

Thanks, Todd…
Heard you this morning, and you sounded great (however brief).
Will try to catch your segment. In fact, they all sound fascinating.

Thank you Todd for sharing your family's history
with us. This forms part of the Canadian national identity.
– Begum Vergee (my co-director on Canadian Club Vancouver.

Wonderful experience to be part of such an
important legacy. Thanks for letting us know.
Shirley Chan (community activist)

Todd: Thanks so much for this!

Chuck Davis – Vancouver Historian

Hi Todd
congratulations !!!!
where are you going to watch tonight's episode .... invite me along if
All good things,
Joseph Roberts - publisher of Common Ground

Hey Todd,
Great to hear from you.  I look forward to
seeing the doc.
Warm regards,
Moyra Rodger – producer of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy television performance special

Chan family

Generations is a 6 part series and the lead installment is The Chan Legacy
which is about my great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan, and our
family descendants who are committed to community service – like me! 
The episodes of the series are:

The Chan Legacy on CBC Newsworld

July 4, 10 pm ET/PT,
July 8, 10 am ET/PT,
July 29, 7 pm ET

Many family members were interviewed:

  • Victor Wong, grand-son, WW2 veteran and Victoria resident who visited his grandparents in Nanaimo BC.
  • Helen Lee, grand-daughter, who lived with Rev. & Mrs. Chan Yu Tan in Nanaimo.
  • Gary Lee, great-grandson who tells about some of the challenges overcome by the family.
  • Janice Wong, great-grand-daughter, and award winning author of CHOW: From China to Canada, memories of food and family.
  • Rhonda
    Larrabee, great-grand-daughter, and chief of the First Nations Qayqayt
    (New Westminster) Band, featured in the NFB film “Tribe of One.”
  • Todd Wong, great-great-grandson, community and cultural activist,
    creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.
  • Tracey
    Hinder, 5th generation high school student who was the inaugural
    Vancouver CanSpell champion and went on to compete in Ottawa and
    Washington DC.  Tracey is a member of her school's “multicultural club.”

Rev. Chan Yu Tan came
to Canada in 1896, following his elder brother Rev. Chan Sing Kai who
had earlier arrived in 1888 at the invitation of the Methodist Church
of Canada.  These two brothers were later followed by sisters Phoebe in
1899, and Naomi who later moved to Chicago.  Throughout seven
generations, the family has spread throughout Canada and the United
States.  The Rev. Chan Yu Tan Family was featured in the photographic
Three Early Chinese Canadian Pioneer Families

Read my blog entries about
Rev. Chan Legacy Project which includes stories during the making of the documentary and events for Janice Wong's award-winning book C H O W: From China to Canada memoris of food and family.

tell all your friends and relatives about this upcoming documentary,
very informative about the history of Chinese-Canadians, and the legacy
they have built in Canada.

check out the CBC Generations home page:

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