My family elders

My family elders

Rev. Chan Yu Tan came to Canada in 1896 to serve at the Chinese Methodist Church, which had been co-founded by his elder brother Rev. Chan Sing Kai in 1888.

My family elders have lived through two world wars.  They have lived through the Chinese Head
Tax era, and the1923 Chinese Exclusion Act.

3 brothers and a cousin served in WW2, who were first not allowed to join the Canadian Forces, even though they wanted to fight for the country they were born in.

They could not vote in the country they were born in until after the Exclusion Act was appealed in 1947 – because up until then, Canadians of Chinese ancestry were considered resident aliens.

They grew up and watched the younger generation become: Miss Canada runner-up, TV news reporter, BC Lions Cheerleader, lawyer, RCMP officer, city councilor, killer-whale habitat warden, mining environment consultant, and then there’s me…  cultural and community activist.

One great-grand-daughter of Rev Chan Yu Tan is Chief of the Qayqayt First Nations.  Watch the NFB Film Tribe of One to learn the story of Rhonda Larabee, my mother’s cousin.

My parents have appeared with me in the 2004 CBC television performance special Gung Haggis Fat Choy, when we re-created a small Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner of 10 for the cameras.

In 2007, CBC created a TV documentary about her Rev Chan Yu Tan and family descendant history titled Generations: The Chan Legacy.

Some of my elders have been an inspiration to me, and also very encouraging of me for playing my accordion, when I was a child.


Our family committee organized a Rev. Chan Family Reunion in 2000.  We had representatives from many branches of the Rev. Chan Family, descendants from his children Kate, Rose and Millicent, and families from son Jack also attended.

Many of my family elders have also attended my Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.   I wrote about their influence on my cooking and heritage in the 2007 book Eating Stories: Chinese Canadian and Aboriginal Pot Luck.

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