Living in and between two societies can often mean a fractured existence; unclear and ambiguous it might be at times between cultural identity at birth with the country of birth.
But my truth is and always has been very simple.
I am Canadian. I am Chinese. I am Chinese-Canadian. I am Canadian-Chinese.
I am all of these, and all of these make up who I am.
I believe my parents would not have emigrated to Canada, that my sister and I would not have been born and raised here in this country, had it not been for the perseverance and hard work by early-generations of Chinese Canadians.
Memorial to Chinese Canadians
The history of the city of Vancouver and of the province of British Columbia includes the history of Chinese people in Canada. These histories are inseparable.
What is significant and well-documented are: the impact by Chinese on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), the completion of which delivered in 1871 the “promise” of British Columbia joining Canadian confederation; the 19th-century “gold rush”; fighting racism and state-sponsored repression; volunteering to fight for a country who didn’t want or recognize them; and their subsequent rightful claims of their right to become Canadian citizens and the right to vote.
Standing at the northeast corner of Keefer Street and Columbia Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown is a memorial to early Chinese-Canadians. The stylized “中” character is surrounded by two sculptures representing important times in Canadian history: a Chinese-Canadian working on the national railway, and a Chinese-Canadian soldier serving in World War Two. In the context of the memorial, the character “中” also represents harmony in spirit, and a declaration and recognition of the past and present, and hopes for the future.
Inscriptions at the memorial are as follows:
This Chinatown Memorial Monument is the creation of sculptor Mr. Arthur Shu-Ren Cheng. The bronze statues of the railway worker and the World War II veteran represent the sacrifices made by Chinese Canadians in building a united and prosperous Canada. The main column is a stylized form of the Chinese character “centre” (“中”) which symbolizes Chinese culture. The Chinese couplet inscribed on the front and back of the column reads:
(Front/Left) “Rich legacies of Chinese pioneers shining bright as the sun and moon”
(Back/Right) “Great deeds of noble forbears zeal entrenched as mountains and rivers”
In commemoration of the significant contributions of Chinese Canadians to the growth, vitality and prosperity of Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada.
The Chinatown Memorial Monument is funded by the City of Vancouver, Province of British Columbia, and Government of Canada under the Vancouver agreement.
Unveiled on the 2nd November 2003
Chinatown Memorial Square can be reached by TransLink with the SkyTrain to Stadium-Chinatown Station, or with the bus (e.g., routes 3, 4, 7, 8, 14, 16, 19, 20, 22, 50, C23).
• Chinese building the CPR: “Nitro”, video by Historica Canada | Chinese Canadian National Council
• A short history of Chinese Canadians in military service, from Chinese Canadian Military Museum.
• Remembering Gim Wong
With a 4th-generation iPodTouch, I made the Instagram photos above on 10 and 11 November 2013. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.