La culture Sino-Québécoise – c’est quoi ça?

The term Sino-Québécois is seldom heard of, let alone Sino-Québécois culture. Culture exists to reflect the common experiences, values and expressions of any group of people that shares a collective heritage and identity. Culture develops for the community and not against anyone else.

A people’s culture can also reflects the larger dominant culture and can absorb many of those elements that are influential or imposed, be it language, TV, film, music or arts and letters. In a multi-intercultural society, culture does not only reflect the dominant population. Even in Québec, there are minority cultural entities like the Teesri Duniya theatre and the Montréal Serai e-zine that depict the South Asian experience here. The more established cultural communities, such as the Jewish and Italian, are represented by people like the much maligned Mordecai Richler and the Italo-Québécois playwright Marco Micone.

Does a Sino-Québécois culture exist?  Of course it does. Its existence is independent of one’s will. When you have a group of Chinese come together, like the Chinese Social Club, they express their shared experiences, identities and ergo, culture. Cedric Sam reflects some of the cross cultural experiences of the Chinese in Quebec on his Blog, http://commeleschinois.ca/ . One question that Parker and Bethany asked in their travels around Québec was “What do we have in common?”

–          “Our face?”

–          “The way we cut the oranges!”

That is on the surface, but once you dig deeper, there is a common sense of struggle to live here as a minority that we all share and there is an eagerness to express that experience.

One Sino-Québécoise who has written about her experiences living here is Day’s Lee. Unfortunately, we have not been able to meet her for this film, but here is an example of her writing which some of us can identify with.

Warrior Women
by Day’s Lee

« Two. » Jingping Chen carefully enunciated, and pushed a five-dollar bill through the opening in the glass. Thin lines marbled the skin across her knuckles, red and dry from washing vegetables and rice daily, and cracked from the heat of gas fires generated under the giant woks. At forty, she had the hands of a woman twice her age. In her haste to change out of her splattered uniform and arrive on time at the Park Avenue theatre, she’d forgotten to slather on hand cream.

Two days ago, one of the waiters told her the theatre next door to the restaurant was showing Chinese movies every Wednesday afternoon for the summer. A Chinese movie! In China, she once walked several miles to the next village to see this marvel. Here in Canada, the black and white television images didn’t make sense because she didn’t understand English.

Ever since they bought the restaurant four years ago, life was a cycle of work and sleep. Overseeing the kitchen meant endless hours on her feet. Between customers arriving for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there were chickens to kill and pluck, egg rolls to make, homemade pies to bake, and supplies to replenish. A bowl of rice, some stir-fried meat or fish, and a cup of tea were downed in a short thirty-minute lunch break. Friends commented that her five foot three inch frame looked smaller since she’d lost weight. Rivers of grey seeped into what used to be ink black hair, now cut short to fit under a hair net.

The middle-aged woman in the glass booth bobbed her Jackie Kennedy hairdo in understanding and rang in the sale. « One adult, one child, » the cashier confirmed in a heavy Greek accent. « Three dollars fifty. » Her plump manicured hand took the five-dollar bill, and then slid the tickets and change across the green marble counter and through the slot. Lire la suite