New Canadian Media

by Jagdeesh Mann in Vancouver

Depending on whom you ask, the actions of Louis Riel, and Dr. Norman Bethune, along with others who lived through difficult times, can be seen as verging on treasonous or justified. Add to that list Mewa Singh.

Outside of Canada’s sizeable two million plus South Asian community, few Canadians will have heard of Singh who is revered as a Che Gueverra-like figure, in particular by Sikhs. A new play, The Undocumented Trial of William C. Hopkinson, which opened January 8, is the first major artistic production to re-evaluate a man whom many view as Canada’s forgotten martyr.

In the play, Mewa Singh is placed on the stand to answer for his real life shooting and killing of William Hopkinson, a Canadian immigration official. The incident took place in the same art gallery 101 years ago on October 21, 1914 when it served as the Vancouver’s Provincial Courthouse.

Outside of Canada’s sizeable two million plus South Asian community, few Canadians will have heard of Singh who is revered as a Che Gueverra-like figure.

On that morning, Singh walked up to the third floor rotunda and killed Hopkinson with four shots from his revolver. He then handed over his weapon to the authorities and took full responsibility for his act, knowing he would receive capital punishment.

“I shoot. I go to station,” he proclaimed, in his limited English.

Within three months on Jan. 11, 1915, Singh was hung from the gallows in New Westminster. He died at age 33, the same age as Hopkinson.

Lionized by Sikh Canadian community

Despite the violent nature of Singh’s act, he has been lionized by Canada’s Sikh community in the same way Louis Riel has been by the country’s Metis population. Though he is a character written into Canadian history books as an assassin, in the Sikh community he is their version of Tiananmen’s Tank Man, the solitary protester saying no and standing his ground against the machinery of institutionalized repression. 

There are numerous sports and literary events organized annually in his tribute. The dining hall in Vancouver’s Ross Street Sikh temple, the country’s largest gurdwara where India’s Prime Minister Modi stopped by with Stephen Harper for a visit last April, bears his name and iconic image in memorial. 

"He stood up in the most difficult of circumstances and follows in the tradition of other Canadian martyrs like Louis Riel.”

For playwright Paneet Singh, The Undocumented Trial of William C. Hopkinson is a forum to cast light on the murky events that led to the shooting and to reveal the social conditions that made the collision between Singh and Hopkinson unavoidable.

“I have been surrounded by this story since I was a child, when my mother would tell it to me,” said Singh. “Mewa Singh’s name resonates in the South Asian community, but it has been locked out of the mainstream. This play exposes his actions through the framework of the times in which he lived in order to move the story into the 21st century. He stood up in the most difficult of circumstances and follows in the tradition of other Canadian martyrs like Louis Riel.”

Hopkinson and Singh were born and raised in India, and in adulthood, both migrated to Vancouver. Singh left a small village near Amritsar, Punjab to find his fortunes while Hopkinson left his post as a policeman after his first wife died. The Raj in India was beginning its slow fade. Hopkinson had never lived in England and so chose to renew his life in Vancouver. 

But at the turn of the 20th century, Canada’s promise as a new world Gold Mountain came with caveats for non-white immigrants over their European counterparts. The Canadian government had institutionalized racism through legislation like the Chinese Head Tax and the continuous journey clause. The latter was utilized in 1914 in the infamous Komagata Maru incident which was playing out at the same time as the Singh versus Hopkinson duel.

Despite holding very different stations in life, the destinies of Hopkinson and Singh became intimately tied to each other in B.C. Hopkinson’s fluency in Hindi landed him a job as a government agent. His assignment was to harvest information from the Sikh community about their sympathies for Indian independence from British rule. He had a number of active moles in the community burrowing for intelligence.

Singh's legacy reflected in politics today

Hopkinson’s methods were as heavy handed as his agents were clumsy – they shot and killed two Sikhs at the local temple. Hopkinson threatened Mewa Singh to become an informant, or to find himself the next target.

What Hopkinson didn’t anticipate, was that Singh would accept death before turning. Killing Hopkinson would not save Singh, it would only give rise to another Hopkinson. But making a public statement by killing him in the open and by embracing the death penalty would make a statement that resonates to this day.

Neither could have foreseen the modern multicultural Canada their clash would inadvertently help cast.

For Sikhs in Canada who were struggling for a foothold in Canada at the time, Singh’s defiance would inspire their push for political equality – an achievement coming 30 years later in 1947 when South Asians and Chinese were granted the right to vote.

Mewa Singh’s singular act echoes still in the disproportionate success of South Asians in Canadian politics – there are 16 MPs of Sikh heritage currently serving in Canada’s Parliament. Had the Chinese community their own version of Mewa Singh, perhaps they too would be better represented at the highest politics levels.

William Hopkinson’s pernicious agenda was a spear foiled by Mewa Singh’s shield. Hopkinson left India seemingly to find his piece of the Cotswolds in the new world. But the new world would not be shaped by the old rules, as he fatefully discovered in his encounter with Mewa Singh.

Neither could have foreseen the modern multicultural Canada their clash would inadvertently help cast. 

For more information on the play click on the link for The Undocumented Trial of William C. Hopkinson.


This piece was was first published in The Globe & Mail. Republished in partnership with the South Asian Post.

 

Published in Arts & Culture

by Shan Qiao in Toronto

Just weeks before its 40th anniversary one of the three major Chinese daily newspapers in North America has ceased printing in Canada.

The World Journal issued its last edition on Dec. 31, 2015, marking yet another setback for the ailing Chinese ethnic media.

From daily newspapers to TV and radio stations, traditional ethnic media outlets have been fighting to survive under the irrevocable challenges brought on by the rise of social media.

Like other traditional Chinese media, World Journal has been struggling with declining readership and advertising revenues, coupled with increasing labour costs.

Founded by the United Daily News Group in Taiwan on Feb. 12, 1976, World Journal mainly targets readers from the island whose political perspectives are not aligned with Beijing. 

Announcement not a surprise to some 

The closure of the newspaper’s Vancouver and Toronto offices resulted in more than 20 full-time jobs in editorial, translation, graphic design and printing being slashed on New Year’s Day.

The World Journal will keep publishing in the United States; its North American headquarters in New York, along with its west coast bureaus in Los Angeles and San Francisco will remain in tact.

“It’s obvious that traditional media is a dying business, giving up the market to new media and free pickup weekly newspapers.”

 
Jiansheng Ge, a senior reporter who has been working for the newspaper in Toronto for over eight years after emigrating from Taiwan, was not shocked by the abrupt announcement the newspaper’s CEO made earlier in December.  

He says he knew the end was coming, he just didn’t know when.
 
“It’s obvious that traditional media is a dying business, giving up the market to new media and free pickup weekly newspapers,” he laments.

According to Ge people are joining the battlefield to publish free weekly newspapers without paying enough attention to quality because it’s a legitimate and easy investment for them. 

Examining why the newspaper folded
 
Joseph Lau, the founding president of Toronto’s Chinese Media Professionals Association, appealed on WeChat, a popular Chinese social media app with over one billion users, to buy the World Journal’s last edition on Dec. 31 to show support. 

“Traditional media has a weakness, from my perspective, which is a ‘one-way’ communication."

“Media colleagues should examine why the business is not doing well,” he says. “Traditional media has a weakness, from my perspective, which is a ‘one-way’ communication. You won’t be able to trace back your readers’ data, not like new media that grabs users’ information for its marketing purpose.”  

He adds that World Journal publishing electronically online for some time was also part of its downfall. 

“This is suicidal and it kills the hardcopy edition, but it’s the trend nobody in the business can avoid,” Lau says. 

“I believe news always needs content regardless what the carrier is, either on paper or on a smart phone. Paper media’s readership will be less and less, losing to other carriers. However, we are not a fully digital age yet. In the coming 10 years, paper media still has some space to survive.” 

He adds, with a laugh, that his own online TV news channel, www.torontotv.net, has been operating since 2003 and is still “surviving”. 

Finding work for former ethnic media 

After losing their jobs in ethnic media, reporters can find it difficult to find work. They often find themselves using transferable skills to land work in other fields. 

A popular career alternative is working as a politician’s constituency assistant. 

“Media professionals often make great hires for both public and private sectors."

Two reporters, who preferred to remain unnamed, who previously worked at OMNI TV found jobs at the riding offices of Conservative member of Parliament (MP) Bob Saroya and Liberal MP Shaun Chen after Rogers cut most of its ethnic programming last year, while a former reporter for the World Journal started working for Liberal MP Arnold Chan months before the newspaper announced its closure. 

Miriam Ku, a former World Journal reporter who left journalism several years ago in pursuit of a career in politics has since worked as an assistant for a municipal councillor and is now an outreach adviser for Ontario’s Conservative party leader, Patrick Brown. 

Wilson Chan, who is Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s communication adviser, previously worked as Editor-in-Chief of a Chinese daily newspaper called Today Daily News that was rebranded to Today Commercial News after he left. 

“Media professionals often make great hires for both public and private sectors, whether it could be working for a politician, an NGO (non-governmental organization) or a public relation firm,” says Ku, adding that media professionals’ vast knowledge on current affairs, strong community networks and effective audience-focused writing talents are useful when seeking jobs.

Some reporters work as licenced interpreters in the community, hospitals or courtrooms. Others become part-time realtors serving the particularly property-hungry Chinese community, and often, their part-time income easily supersedes their humble reporter’s salary. 

As for Ge, he had already planned something years before the closure announcement was made. 

He is a seasonal Chinese language teacher working at the elementary school level for the Toronto District School Board. Although his working hours are not enough right now, he is confident and wants to pursue this path, getting more training to become a full-time teacher in a more stable and sustainable job environment.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Arts & Culture

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TORONTO: Israel was created to allow Jews from all over the world to settle there and Israel still has an open-door police for Jews from anywhere to settle there.

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Published in China

by Deanna Cheng in Vancouver 

An advocate for Vancouver’s Chinatown has started a petition against rezoning a central block in the district because she says it would cost the site its heritage designation and distinct character. 

Nicole So, a graduate of the University of British Columbia (UBC), says the rezoning of the 105 Keefer site from a historic area to a development district doesn’t create space for cross-cultural, intergenerational experiences. 

The 23-year-old advocate says the revised 105 Keefer plan is what “everyone” doesn’t want.

The revised rezoning application is for a 13-storey building by the Beedie Development Group that includes 127 residential units and 25 seniors social housing units on the second floor. It also has commercial space on the ground floor. 

The petition asks for more senior housing, as well as more community and cultural spaces. So aims to have at least 1,000 signatures e-mailed to the City of Vancouver by Dec. 1. 

Most participants want a “real” community and not something created solely for the benefit of tourists and visitors.

“Chinatown already has a vision,” So explains, referring to a 2002 Chinatown revitalization report. 

The 14-page city document stated most participants want a “real” community and not something created solely for the benefit of tourists and visitors. 

“There was frequent mention of the importance of inclusiveness of Chinatown – for Chinese of various linguistic and cultural backgrounds as well as non-Chinese speakers, for young and old,” states the report. 

The report showed community members wanted a sense of festivity in Chinatown and to make it a “cool” place to visit, especially for youth. 

So mentions the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre in Burnaby as an ideal example of culturally sensitive space. The centre focuses on preserving and promoting Japanese Canadian culture. 

Not interested in another ‘yuppie’ area 

Houtan Rafii, vice-president of residential development at Beedie Living (the home-building division of Beedie Development Group), said in an e-mailed statement that the company would work with the city on expanding and enhancing the nearby Memorial Plaza, a space with a monument for Chinese Canadian soldiers who represented Canada in past wars.

The statement said many Chinatown stakeholders received the amendments Beedie Living made favourably. 

“One amendment in particular that is resonating positively with people is our voluntary inclusion of 25 seniors’ homes."

“One amendment in particular that is resonating positively with people is our voluntary inclusion of 25 seniors’ homes, which will be a $7 million asset to Chinatown and represent 20 per cent of the entire building,” Rafii said. 

The City of Vancouver said in an e-mail to New Canadian Media that an increase in the building’s height from 90 feet to a maximum of 120 feet to support public benefits including heritage, cultural, affordable and social housing projects is under consideration. 

The city encourages concerned individuals to provide feedback by early January. 

Community members have repeatedly said to the media and city hall that they don’t want another Yaletown, a ‘yuppie’ section of Vancouver with dog salons and condos galore. 

A fading Chinatown

Toronto realtor Vivian Kim visited Vancouver in July for four days and wrote to someone in a Facebook group, “You must eat the garlic wings at Phnom Penh in Gastown!” 

Phnom Penh, a well-known Cambodian-Vietnamese restaurant, is actually located in Chinatown. 

“In my memory, Gastown and Chinatown all melded into the same kind of look,” recalls 33-year-old Kim during a phone interview. 

“It didn’t jump out to me as a big Chinatown,” she adds. 

“It didn’t jump out to me as a big Chinatown.”

Kim says in comparison Toronto has a handful of Chinatowns with distinct neighbourhoods. She describes the one downtown as having an abundance of Chinese signage in red and gold, outdoor food markets and local mom and pop businesses. 

Susanna Ng, co-owner of New Town Bakery & Restaurant in Vancouver’s Chinatown, says people often complain about Chinese businesses closing down and moving out due to changing economy and residents. 

From her perspective though, business is good. She says her clientele tends to be more Caucasians and young people. “[I] don’t see many old people now. They’re in nursing homes or passed away.” 

As Chinese business owners are getting older, they are retiring, Ng adds. “Their kids, the second generation, don’t want to take over the place. They sell it instead, so no more local businesses.” 

Ng even struggles to find replacements for her restaurant staff, having had two cooks who retired recently. “In the Chinese newspapers, every time I open [them], the ads for ‘cooks wanted’ grow bigger and bigger. This is what I have to fight with.” 

[A] new Chinatown in Vancouver is being rebuilt and young Chinese students are eager to be part of the vision.

Rebuilding Chinatown

While the past fades away, a new Chinatown in Vancouver is being rebuilt and young Chinese students are eager to be part of the vision. 

International student Jane Jing Yi Wu is studying visual arts at UBC and she is working on a blueprint for the Keefer block. 

The 22-year-old Chinese national pulls ideas from her home, the China she knows. Wu wants to incorporate space for community art, family-oriented nightlife and food markets. 

When Wu first came to Vancouver three years ago, she was neutral about Chinatown. After learning about Chinatown’s history in an Asian migration course, Wu started to care more. 

Walking through the area, she thought of how the Chinese people paid the head tax, fought for their rights and survived in a new country years ago. 

She said that even though she’s an “outsider”, she wants the city to know that she cares. 

“I’m not Canadian, but I feel it’s time for us to do something for [future Chinese migrants].”

Editor's Note: This article has been updated from the original published version which incorrectly reported Beedie Living was working with the city to expand and enhance the 105 Keefer site instead of the nearby Memorial Plaza. 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

 

Published in Arts & Culture

by Justin Kong in Toronto

The results of the recent federal election shows that we need a better understanding of how immigrant groups are mobilized and integrated into formal spheres of Canadian politics. This two-part series focuses on the Chinese community in metropolitan areas of Canada. Part II examines the new Chinese working class, how conditions are ripe for the development of a Chinese left and what this all means for the Canadian left.

With the devastating electoral defeat of the New Democratic Party last month in the 2015 Federal Elections, it’s clear that the Canadian left must adjust their strategy. The new strategy needs to support the development of a progressive, grassroots immigrant power to counter the presence of more conservative and moderate elements within these communities.  

In the Chinese diaspora, while there are a number of strong progressive leaders at various levels of government and in the community at large, the presence of a mobilized, grassroots Chinese immigrant left has yet to be felt in recent years.

This lies partly in the fact that one group has long been unengaged: the Chinese immigrant working class. 

New wave of Chinese immigrants, new attitudes towards labour

Contrary to the common trope of the rich Chinese investor immigrant, one merely has to look around the many Chinese ethnic neighbourhoods in Toronto and Vancouver to see that there are actually tremendous populations of workers labouring in the ethnic economy. These workers are often engaged in the food and services industry in precarious conditions and without the full protection of employment laws and standards.

This population has long been here and has remained relatively unengaged by the mainstream left and organized labour. A small group find themselves in the progressive political spaces of community labour organizations such as the Workers Action Centre in Toronto. 

What has changed in recent years, however, is the composition of this Chinese working class and the increasing maturity of the Chinese diaspora in Canada. These two conditions have important ramifications for the possibility of a progressive Chinese element and the Canadian left at large.

In the past two decades the flow of Chinese immigrants, which had previously been largely dominated by those from Hong Kong and Taiwan, has shifted to a flow that is increasingly dominated by those from mainland China. 

Given that immigrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan have likely been here for a longer period of time it is more likely that they have attained more upward mobility with less ‘working class’ members. More importantly these groups have radically different pre-migration attitudes towards the left and labour politics than the new wave from China. 

This population has long been here and has remained relatively unengaged by the mainstream left and organized labour.

In Hong Kong, family histories of communist persecution, the infamous 1967 riots which linked trade unionism with social instability and communist insurgency, combine to stifle the possibility of broad labour politics amongst the Hong Kong populace. It should be no surprise then that Canadian labour politics will find it difficult to engage this group.

On the other hand, the new Chinese immigrant working class is largely composed of skilled professionals from mainland China who grew up in very different conditions. Growing up and living in Mainland China means this group has at the very least a basic understanding of concepts of class, capitalism and exploitation — important preconditions to any progressive and labour politics. 

With the economic rise of China and the proliferation of consumer culture, leftist politics may have had little salience amongst this population when they were still living in China. 

After immigrating the situation becomes different. Labouring in the deskilling, dehumanizing and precarious Canadian economy reignites in the Chinese worker the earlier internalizations of working class consciousness and left politics.

Due to these factors, this new Chinese working class, more than any previous Chinese wave, has the potential to constitute a progressive, left element within the Chinese diaspora in Canada.

Bridging the ethnic and the mainstream

As waves upon waves of Chinese immigrants have settled in Canada, the Chinese diaspora as a whole has become increasingly mature. This maturity manifests in an increasing number of potential progressive political leaders who are able to connect the mainstream with the ethnic.

These two developments together represent the fertile conditions for the development of a left grassroots counter presence in the Chinese community. In the absence of sustained engagement, this new Chinese working class may remain inactive in formal politics and quite possibly bolster the ranks of the political right and moderates.

Chinese churches, for example, appear to be making in-roads with this new Chinese working class. Grounded in the ethnic community through their ‘service’, Chinese churches in Toronto have initiated sermons and fellowship groups catered specifically to Chinese restaurant workers. For the left, such a development is illustrative of the extensive vacuum that exists.

This new Chinese working class has the potential to constitute a progressive, left element within the Chinese diaspora in Canada.

If we look throughout Canada’s history we will see that incorporating immigrant workers has been central to the power of organized labour and the Canadian left. However, that this incorporation has often excluded immigrant workers who are not white has always been an overarching, strategic misstep.

In order for the Canadian left to establish a foothold in immigrant communities for electoral struggles or otherwise, the establishment of grassroots strength within these communities is essential. To do this the immigrant working classes and political leadership of immigrant communities must be mobilized and connected with the mainstream left.

By supporting and building the emerging immigrant left is to reverse the decades of decline of the Canadian left. The conditions for an immigrant left is ripe in the Chinese community and it may likely be the case in other immigrant communities as well. All that remains for us to do is to come together and figure out how we can make it a reality — and that, of course, is the hard part.


Justin Kong studies sociology and is involved with community and labour organizing in Toronto.

Journalist Ranjit Bhaskar mentored the writer of this article, through the New Canadian Media mentorship program. 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Commentary
Thursday, 05 November 2015 11:54

Attack Ads in Ethnic Papers ‘Insulting’

by Robin Brown in Toronto

The post-mortem of the federal election is ongoing and until it is complete we will not know the full dynamics behind the results. But one view that is emerging is that the Liberals outperformed the Conservatives in winning the hotly contested “ethnic vote”. Or at least winning back enough of it.

Looking at results from ridings with high proportions of immigrant and visible minority populations, especially in suburban Toronto and Vancouver, this seems to be the case. So what did they do to achieve this?

The ethnic media bandwagon

The first thing is that they woke up to one of the tactics that the Conservatives have successfully employed in recent years – engaging the ethnic media.

Stephen Harper has always been generous with the ethnic media.

Stephen Harper, who has been accused of not being accessible to the mainstream media, has always been generous with the ethnic media.

This relationship was symbiotic. It helped the Conservatives focus on a key segment of the population. In turn, the ethnic media were grateful for easier access.

While the Conservatives maintained this strategy during this past election, they were not alone. The Liberals had been taking notes, and Justin Trudeau was made equally available, if not more so. This was crucial in connecting the Liberals with ethnic communities.

The messages that backfired

Individual campaigns may have employed specific multicultural communication strategies at the riding level, but the parties did not do so to any major extent at a national level.

The only example that was widely covered in the mainstream media was the Conservatives attempts to leverage social hot buttons and associate Trudeau with marijuana and prostitution.

“It’s like they think we’re stupid.”

Along with statements from Jason Kenney, the Conservatives delivered those messages via Punjabi and Chinese language flyers and newspaper advertisements.

This attempt was widely seen as backfiring and indicative of a misreading of Chinese and South Asian voters and their concerns. Many of those voters were well aware of the fact their communities had been singled out for these messages.

As one of my Chinese friends said, “It’s like they think we’re stupid.” 

Myths about the ‘ethnic vote’

Ironically the misreading could be a result of past successes. Conservative success with the “ethnic vote” in 2011 is well documented and may have created comforting myths.

For example, The Big Shift by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson painted a picture of a Conservative dynasty supported by immigrants who were focused on economic, security and law and order issues and not concerned with issues such as “community supports, the environment and international engagement.” 

[M]yths lulled the [Conservative] party into believing that the “ethnic vote” was immune to the messages of the Liberals and NDP.

These myths lulled the party into believing that the “ethnic vote” was immune to the messages of the Liberals and NDP.

However, the results of this election showed that this was clearly not the case. The messages that the Liberals successfully pushed out to the Canadian public were reaching and resonating with “ethnic voters”.

Overall it seems the “ethnic vote” was influenced by the same factors as the general Canadian vote.

One finding that may emerge from the post-mortem is that when the Canadian vote swings right so does the “ethnic vote”. When the vote swings left so does the “ethnic vote”. Maybe we will learn that the “ethnic vote” is now not quite as distinct from the “mainstream vote” as was assumed in the past.


Robin Brown is the co-author of Migration Nation: A Practical Guide to Doing Business in Globalized Canada.

New Canadian Media welcomes other perspectives on the topic of advertising targeted at immigrant communities during the 2015 federal election. Write to production@newcanadianmedia.ca if interested.

Published in Commentary

The Toronto edition of Ming Pao Daily News, one of the handful of Chinese-language publications in the city, has laid off seven of its editorial...

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Published in China

by Shan Qiao in Toronto 

The desire to have more than one child has been a motivating factor for many Chinese emigrants for over three decades. Change may be on its way though, as earlier this week, China lifted its one-child policy, allowing married couples to have two children. 

The one-child policy, a population control measure viewed as a rather totalitarian symbol by the West, was introduced in 1979. For more than three decades, the unique China-style family consisted of a “4-2-1” model: four grandparents, a couple of two adults (both the only child from his or her family) and a single third-generation grandchild.

Aside from the fact that the policy has faced stanch criticism for being an abuse of human rights and for creating sex-based birth rate favouritism for boys – as China is a traditionally patriarchal society – the one-child policy has also created a huge problem for senior care. 

In a society that lacks a pension plan or affordable public health system, sometimes it is just too much for two adult children to take care of four elderly parents.  

"If [we violated the] one-child policy, we would both lose our jobs and [be forced] to pay a very heavy fine.”

Impacts of one-child policy

Jinhong Xu is one of many Chinese Canadians who immigrated here to avoid the one-child policy. As a result, Xu has two children who are 16 years apart; this stark age difference between children isn’t strange to see among many Chinese immigrant families. 

“I was born in 1967 in a small county in Shan Xi province,” recalls Xu. “I was not the only child in my family, but I was only allowed to have one child after I got married in 1992. We both worked in a state-owned company. If [we violated the] one-child policy, we would both lose our jobs and [be forced] to pay a very heavy fine.”

Xu is like many Chinese who faced many challenges living under China’s unique traditions and polices. 

Her first daughter was born in 1993 – a very joyful event to her, but not so much for her family as the child was not a boy. 

“Hadn’t my country had a one-child policy, I would be happily staying in China, making it easier (for me) to look after my aging parents.”

After struggling for years thinking of having another child, Xu finally immigrated to Canada in 2002 as a skilled worker and applied for family reunification to bring her husband and daughter here one year later. 

At 42, Xu had a second child born in Toronto’s North York General Hospital in 2009. To her delight, it was a healthy boy that the whole family had been longing for.
 
“I remember I had to go through [a] amniotic fluid test as I was an older mother,” she continues. “That was a really hard decision we have to make. It was my daughter who helped me go through the process. She really wanted to have a younger sibling.” 

Staying beside her mom’s bed during labour, Xu’s daughter was more thrilled than anybody else and started to learn how to help her mom take care of the baby.
 
“Hadn’t my country had a one-child policy, I would be happily staying in China, making it easier (for me) to look after my aging parents,” says Xu, her voice trembling and eyes filled with tears. “But [there isn’t] much I can do. I was not a devoted child to my parents.”
 
Changes for refugee claimants
 
The one-child policy has also been a reason for many Chinese people to claim refugee status in Canada. Whether their claims are genuine or bogus, future asylum seekers may start to feel anxious now that the policy is no longer. 

Whether their claims are genuine or bogus, future asylum seekers may start to feel anxious now that the policy is no longer.

Refugees from China had the most claims accepted from January to June 2015, followed by Pakistan, Hungary Iraq and Syria. 

Refugee claims go to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRBC). According to IRBC, the forced sterilization or abortion a person may face upon returning to China is grounds for granting refugee status. As is claims that the one-child policy goes against religious beliefs, such as in the case of Roman Catholics. 

Hart Kaminker, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer says the change in policy doesn’t necessarily mean an end to refugee claims of this nature though. 

“The policy now is allowing people to have two children,” he explains. “You might get into a [refugee] case when people may have two children that may want to have a third child. That person may still have a valid [refugee] claim.” 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

 

Published in Top Stories

by Justin Kong in Toronto

Political discourse often speaks to the social conservatism of immigrant groups. However, the results of the recent federal elections show that we need a better understanding of how immigrant groups are mobilized and integrated into formal spheres of Canadian politics. This two-part series focuses on the Chinese community in metropolitan areas of Canada. Part I explores the role of churches in helping to integrate Chinese Canadians and how that might lead to conservative politics. 

Despite the sweeping defeat of the Conservatives by Trudeau’s Liberals throughout the suburban areas of Vancouver and Toronto (the very same ridings that enabled a Conservative victory in 2008 and 2011) in last week’s election, it would be a mistake to think that the Conservative influence in these communities has come to an end.

When the Conservative party took out ads in certain ethnic Chinese media suggesting the Liberal party would legalize brothels, open drug injection sites and make marijuana more accessible to children, it was a targeted and informed choice. Spend some time in any of the Chinese Christian megachurches in Richmond, Vancouver or Scarborough, Toronto and you will often find the very same issues raised. 

In fact, if we look at regions where the Conservatives did retain seats in metropolitan Vancouver and Toronto (such as Richmond Centre, South Surrey-White Rock and Markham-Unionville) we do find they are areas with large numbers of Chinese Christians.

The important role of Chinese churches

To understand the strong support for Conservative politics and the party amongst the Chinese community in metropolitan Canada, we need to understand Chinese Christian churches. 

While the first Chinese Christian church in Canada can be dated to the early 1900s, it was with the wave of Hong Kong immigrants in the 1970-80s that we began to see the rapid growth of Chinese Christian churches in metropolitan areas such as Vancouver and Toronto. 

It would be a mistake to think that the Conservative influence in these communities has come to an end.

The demographics (middle class, professionals) and political dispositions of this Hong Kong immigrant flow inevitably influenced the politics that are reproduced within these churches. 

At the same time, Chinese Christian churches have and continue to be an institution of unparalleled importance within the Chinese diaspora. These churches are vital hubs of community that help facilitate the integration of new immigrants. They also offer social services to seniors, new immigrants and international students that are increasingly important in the context of recent cutbacks to immigrant and community services.

Conservative tendencies

The recent anti-sex education movement in Ontario is supported by many churches and the Chinese Christian community. These sentiments are richly detailed in this portrait of one of the leading Chinese organizers.

In this and other ways, there exists a connection between Chinese Christian churches as institutions that integrate newcomers to Canada and as institutions where political-social conservatism is reproduced and concentrated.

Of course, the Chinese Christian community is not a monolith; it’s a complex, changing group with its own internal differences and disagreements. What is highlighted by the Ontario sex-ed debacle and the Chinese Christian opposition is that most vocal and politically active element of this community does tend towards conservatism.

Of course, the Chinese Christian community is not a monolith.

It should not be surprising that this Christian conservatism has found an easy affinity with the Conservative party, who has tried to leverage the grassroots strength of the Chinese Christian churches for electoral gain by running candidates with church affiliations.

To acknowledge all of this, however, is not to find in Chinese immigrants some innate, unchanging ‘conservatism’, but to illustrate the class biases of the immigration system and how immigrants during the process of immigration and through institutions like churches have become mobilized to become ‘conservative’ in the context of life in Canada. 

Part Two of this series turns to a discussion of the new Chinese working class, how contemporary conditions are ripe for the development of a Chinese left and what this means for the Canadian left.


Justin Kong studies sociology and is engaged with community and labour groups in Toronto.

Journalist Ranjit Bhaskar mentored the writer of this article, through the New Canadian Media mentorship program.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

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LONDON: China has decided to end its one-child policy and the couple will now be allowed to have two children.

“China abandons one-child policy,” the Chinese official

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The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

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