Le Club Social Sino-Québécois à Montréal fête le Nouvel an chinois avec V télé

Comme chaque année, je voulais fêter le nouvel an chinois avec des Chinois à Montréal mais je ne trouve pas grand chose d’organisé au quartier chinois, après avoir parlé à quelqu’un au Centre Culturel de la Chine, je pense avoir compris plus la raison. Par conséquent, je sentais que, si je voudrais fêter l’année du dragon, ce serait à moi d’organiser quelque chose.

Donc, le dimanche dernier, j’ai initié une fête chez moi pour célébrer l’arrivée du nouvel an chinois avec tous mes amis d’origines chinoises. On appelle ce souper ‘Tuen nin faan’ ( 團年飯), c’est à dire rassembler toute la famille au souper pour passer la veille du nouvel an ensemble. Ce n’était pas un ‘tuen nin faan’ authentique car il n’y avait pas de plats typiques pour le ‘tuen nin faan’ et de riz! Mais bon, je pensais que ce serait plus amusant de faire des raviolis avec tout le monde que je cuisine 10 plats toute seule!

Le même jour, V télé m’a demandé s’ils pourraient venir filmer notre célébration, j’ai répondu ‘oui’ sans beaucoup d’hésitation en pensant à notre film et au futur de notre club social Sino-Québécois. Voici le lien du clip dans l’émission de V-Express:

http://vtele.ca/videos/v-express/mardi-24-janvier-2012-prolongation-de-contrat-pour-une-entreprise-de-tony-accurso_39311_39306.php

Notre partie commence à 03:11.

Comme j’ai été super occupée avec tous les invités, je n’ai pris que quelques photos.

Acheter un petit chinois à 25 sous

Medaillons-les petits chinois

http://lechinois.com/contact/michel_parent.htm

Québec City’s Michel Parent, our “œuf” (blanc à l’extérieur, jaune a l’intérieur), told us about buying Chinese babies for 25 cents when he was in school in the 50’s and 60’s.  The first introduction to the Chinese for a generation or two of Québécois school children was « acheter les petits chinois à 25 sous. » This must have influenced their thinking about the Chinese. This may also account for why so many Québécois families adopt Chinese babies. The adoptive parents may have encountered the « buying Chinese babies » sentiment in school or through their parents who « bought » babies. Today it’s not cheap to « buy a Chinese baby. » The processing fee and other expenses will cost over $20,000.

BTW, it was the same French Catholic school system that did not permit most immigrants children to enroll into French schools. They were forced to go to the English Protestant school system where we did not get the chance to « buy » Chinese babies. That is why most of us from that generation survive here on high school French.

Here are some blog postings from people who were school kids during the period of « buying Chinese babies. »

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 Petits Chinois de la Sainte-Enfance

 

 Dans les années 1960, les missionnaires venaient visiter les écoles et nous parlaient de la pauvreté dans certains pays. Ils nous montraient ces petites images colorées et nous parlaient de toute la richesse que nous avions la chance d’avoir. Pourtant, le Québec des années Soixante n’était pas des plus riches. J’ai travaillé durement chaque semaine pour avoir droit d’acheter une de ces fameuses images. Plus on en avait, plus on était de bons catholiques…

http://laussivieille.blogspot.com/2009/10/petits-chinois-de-la-sainte-enfance.html

Quelques sous afin d’acheter un petit chinois…

Aujourd’hui nombreux et riches, les petits chinois pourraient sûrement nous acheter!

Par contre, à une époque pas si lointaine, ils servirent de prétexte afin de venir en aide à la Sainte-Enfance. Combien de jeunes écoliers ont acheté, pour vingt-cinq sous, des petits chinois ???

Texte en collaboration avec Denise Fournier

Adrienne Sirois se souvient : « On avait chacun son petit chinois sur un carton. Il tenait par un fil et il devait monter des marches. A toutes les fois que l’on donnait un sou, notre chinois montait… ça coûtait 25 cents pour se rendre jusqu’en haut!« 

Les jeunes, dont Adrienne Emond, se privaient afin de faire monter les échelons à leurs petits protégés : « On se privait de gommes pour acheter les petits chinois. […] il faut dire qu’il n’y avait que les plus fortunés qui donnaient vingt-cinq cents… car nous, c’était rare qu’on avait autant d’argent.« 

C’était en fait une première sensibilisation au tiers-monde, les jeunes se retrouvaient parrains ou marraines d’un enfant défavorisé sur un autre continent et pouvaient même avoir l’impression de faire vivre un petit chinois pour 25 cents… alors qu’en fait, il en fallait bien davantage pour leur venir en aide… et que ces actions se multiplient encore et encore…

Les jeunes du temps ont toujours eu la ferme conviction que l’argent ainsi versé allait directement aux petits chinois qu’ils avaient baptisés. Le tout peut sembler très naïf à l’aube de l’an 2000 mais dans les années 40 et 50…

Une bonne façon de démontrer sa générosité… mais encore une fois, les moins nantis ne pouvaient suivre la cadence…

http://www.portneuf-sur-mer.ca/ecole.pdf

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Petits Chinois et mitraillettes

Dans les années 1950-1960,  à l’école primaire, on pouvait acheter pour 25 cents une image d’un enfant du Tiers-Monde auquel on donnait un prénom. On disait « acheter un petit Chinois ». C’était l’oeuvre de la Sainte-Enfance qui servait à financer les missions en Chine et en Afrique, notamment. Les enfants disaient « petit Chinois d’Afrique » quand l’image représentait un petit Africain.

C’était génial comme marketing. L’idée était de créer un besoin chez les enfants, qui aiment bien collectionner des images, pour qu’ils convainquent leurs parents de financer les missions.

Ma mère disait : « ils vont prendre cet argent-là pour s’acheter des mitraillettes et venir nous mettre des chaînes aux pieds ». Un prétexte pour ne pas payer ? J’en ai quand même acheté et la prophétie maternelle ne s’est pas réalisée : je n’ai pas encore de chaînes aux pieds. Quoique, à la vitesse à laquelle la Chine augmente ses dépenses militaires, ça finira peut-être bien par arriver. Mais c’est une autre histoire.
J’ai trouvé la photo des quatre petits Chinois sur ce site.

http://leflneur.blogspot.com/2011/09/mitraillettes-et-petits-chinois.html

La Taxe d’entrée, c’est quoi ça? / Head Tax, what’s that?

Hing Dere Head Tax Certificate

One of the reasons why the Chinese community in Québec is still an immigrant community is the Head Tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act (HTEA), which lasted from 1885 to 1947, 62 years. Even though, the early Chinese came to Québec 150 years ago, the Chinese Exclusion Act and other restrictive immigration laws prevented the Chinese from arriving in Québec in large number until the 1980’s. The Sino-Vietnamese “boat people” arrived in the early 1980’s, followed by the Hong Kong Chinese fleeing de-colonization there in 1997, and now the Chinese come mainly from the People’s Republic of China to settle in the various regions of Québec. The early Chinese pioneers who were affected by the HTEA came mainly from the Toishan district of southern Guangdong province.

At the start of this film project, we set out to get the attitude of the young Sino-Québécois to the history of the HTEA. Gina Gu, a recently arrived immigrant feels, “It is unfortunate what happened in the past but us young people must live in the present in order to survive here.” Parker and Bethany, whose families have been in Canada for 3 to 4 generations feel that the HTEA directly affected their families and kept their families apart for many years. It is sad for many of the HTEA families whose Head Tax payers have passed away. For them, the government Apology was “Too little, too late.”

 

Belonging (2)

“We’re still here / we’re going strong / and we’re getting tired of proving we belong.”

         – “Asian Song” written by Chris Iijima, performed by Charlie Chin

« Pourquoi pas, je suis né au Québec. Je suis Québécois comme tous qui sont ici. »

         – Charles Wong

Bethany soulève une question fondamentale de la minorité chinoise au Québec. Sommes-nous québécois? Nous pourrions être sino-québécois, québécois d’origine chinoise, Chinese-Canadian, ou pas de label du tout. Certainement, nous ne sommes pas québécois pur-laine ou de souche.

Why do we need to engage in this debate that is framed by the dominant majority? In this debate we cannot win. It is the power construct, les rapports de force, we don’t have the power. The only thing we can do is be true to our own identity, stand up for our rights and claim our place here. We should not be caught in the middle of this dichotomy, to be “Québécois” or “not Québécois”,  “Français” ou ”Anglais”, “nous” ou “les autres”? Nous sommes les chinois du Québec. This is why I want to make this film: “être chinois(e) au Québec”, to be Chinese in Québec, to give the community a voice. In order not to be marginalized, we need to be proud of our own cultural identity and not fold ourselves into the dominant culture. This identity awareness gives us the power to be true to ourselves and be comfortable in our own skin.

Ce n’est pas tout le monde qui est d’accord avec ma politique culturelle, mais il est grand temps de s’investir dans ce débat afin de faire valoir la vision de la communauté chinoise. Ce débat continue…

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

Être Chinois au Québec – Role Models

Upon reviewing the rushes of our road trip through Québec, there are certain people that stand out as role models in the Sino-Québécois community.

Ms. Xiang Ma was a professor in a university in China when she decided to immigrate to Canada. She is one of the leaders of the Chinese Calego workers who confronted the employer when he accused the Chinese workers in the factory as being dirty and eating like pigs. Ms. Ma along with Mr. Yong Shan He led a walkout and filed a complaint with the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse. As a result of their united struggle and determination, the Human Rights Tribunal awarded 15 workers of Chinese origin $150,000 for moral and punitive damages (see earlier posting, 6 septembre). Mr. He was physically assaulted for his leadership role but he was not intimidated and he was awarded additional compensation by the Tribunal as a result.

Ms. Ma now operates a dry cleaning establishment and Mr. He, an engineer in China, is now working in another factory as a computer numerical control machine operator. Both Ms. Ma and Mr. He believe that workers, especially minorities, should stick together and oppose any form of discrimination. As recent immigrants, they are determined to stand up for their rights and make a good life for themselves and their families here. Their struggle for justice united the Chinese community behind them. They set a good example for Chinese and other minorities to fight against discrimination.

Walter Tom was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Quebec City. He graduated from Laval Law School but he was not able to get a job in his profession there and he was forced to move to Montréal. When asked what it is like to be Chinese in Québec, his one word answer is “Tough. But it was even tougher for my father and grandfather.” Lire la suite

«Les Chinois ne veulent pas apprendre le français et ne veulent pas s’intégrer dans la société québécoise». – Mythe ou réalité?

«Qui ne voudrait pas apprendre le français, la langue de la majorité? »     Kenneth Cheung

« Je me sens comme un sourd-muet, ne sais pas le français ici. »  – Dong Qing Chen

Pendant la réalisation de ce film, je n’ai rencontré aucun chinois au Québec qui ne veut pas apprendre le français. Les gens apprennent le français, soit par choix ou par nécessité, afin de trouver un emploi et survivre ici. La francophile Lya Wu Bin de Québec demande au gouvernement de faire plus, de donner aux minorités un sentiment de sécurité et moins de stress, pour les aider à intégrer et apprendre le français.

Apprendre la langue est une étape cruciale vers l’intégration, mais un sentiment d’égalité et d’accès égal au travail et aux institutions donnera les sino-québécois la possibilité d’intégrer complètement. Sans emploi, les minorités auront besoin d’aide pour apprendre la langue, la première étape vers l’intégration et à trouver un job.

Les parents qui travaillent, comme Lin et Ben He à Rimouski, ils font de gros efforts pour apprendre le français quand ils trouvent le temps, mais leur fils de 4 ans, Simon, va grandir parlant français avec un accent Rimouskois.

Les jeunes sino-québécois, grâce à la loi 101, parlent couramment le français. Mais leur combat reste celui de l’acceptation et de l’inclusion dans les réalités quotidiennes du Québec. Toutefois, leurs parents, les immigrants récents et les immigrants à venir, vont continuer à lutter pour l’intégration, avec ou sans l’aide des divers niveaux de gouvernements.

wgwd

From the Cutting Room Floor (2)

“Sometimes what was left out may be as important as what was left in” –  A Wise Old Film Editor

We are entering the stage of the rough edit with our editor Meiyen Chan, who did such a masterful job editing “Moving the Mountain.”

Here are more provocative discoveries I made along the road that may or may not make the final cut.

  • Sophie Zhang’s and Rosalind Wong’s take on Chinese Canadian (CC) culture vs Sino-Quebecois culture is very interesting. Their feeling is that while there is a vibrant CC culture there is no such thing as a Sino-Quebec culture.
  •  Cedric Sam’s insights on media and lack of cultural representation of Chinese and other minorities may explain why Sino-Quebecois culture is pre-nascent. When he tried to set up an Asian club at the elite Collège Brébeuf, someone scribbled “Ghetto” over the poster.
  •  There are 95,000 Chinese in Quebec, 85,000 in metro Montreal. Only 4% of government jobs are filled by minorities (30% of population). Very few minorities are represented in the major institutions of Quebec. Is lack of representation in the mass media and mass culture linked to problems of integration and the lack of job opportunities for the Chinese and other minorities?
  •  Do young Chinese have a special passion for Quebec in order to stay here? That’s the question posed by Robert at the Chinese Social Club. Young Chinese in Quebec are products of Bill 101 which gives them better opportunities to integrate into the majority, while adopting the French language and Quebecois culture; they feel a sense of belonging here.  The question is more pointed at their parents and grandparents, why did they stay? Did they have the passion? Perhaps they didn’t have a choice.

We can look at these issues under the rubric of:

  • Cultural tension, assimilation, integration, cultural nationalism/chauvinism, interculturalists, multiculturalists, or just staking a place in Quebec, remaining true to one’s own identity, as in the case of Bethany’s uncle.

More later …..

From the Cutting Room Floor (1)

“Sometimes what was left out may be as important as what was left in”                                                                                                                                                    –        A Wise Old Film Editor

We are entering the stage of the rough edit with our editor Meiyen Chan, who did such a masterful job editing “Moving the Mountain.”

Here are some of the more controversial discoveries I made along the road that may or may not make the final cut.

  • At the Jardins de Métis, where Bethany fell in love with Quebec, there came to light a historical alignment of stars between the development of Canadian capitalism and early Chinese immigrants. The Jardins de Métis is owned by the Reford family.
    • The summer home of Lord Mount Stephen, 1st president of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), was built inside the present Jardins de Métis grounds, overlooking the magnificent St. Lawrence River.
    • The government granted the CPR $25M to build the transcontinental railway. The Chinese not only built the CPR in the West but also helped finance it with the $23M paid in Head Tax.
    • The Chinese, being major customers, also contributed to establishing the Reford family empire in the rice business. Alexander Reford, director of the Jardins de Métis, told me that the Mount Royal Rice Mill (MRRM) was set up in Victoria by Robert Reford in 1885 (year of completion of the CPR) to mill rice from the far east to supply the Chinese population in BC. Ottawa imposed a tariff on foreign milled rice to keep the price of rice milled in Canada artificially high.
  • Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s recent delegation to China included Winston Chan, a young member of Conseil supérieur de la langue française.  Quebec Inc. has been courting the new social-capitalists of China for some time now, including major participation in the famous Three Gorges Dam project. The state monopoly Hydro-Quebec  and Engineering giant SNC-Lavalin were actively involved in that project.

More later. …..

 

Solidarity with the Chinese Ex-Calego Workers

Fifteen Chinese workers show their combativeness and solidarity in standing up for their rights against their former employer, Calego International in Ville St. Laurent. On April 19, 2011, the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal ruled in favour of the workers and ordered the employer to pay $164,000 in compensation for discriminatory comments made at the workplace, and to set up a program to promote integration of immigrant workers in order to prevent any discrimination based on ethnic or national origin. Calego is appealing the ruling. For more information on the judgment, go to:

http://www2.cdpdj.qc.ca/Comm_HTML/COMM_Calego_avril2011_En.html

Last week, Wai-Yin and I met Mr. He Yongshan, a former Calego worker and Mr. Liu Sheng, a supporter who initiated a community campaign in solidarity with the workers.

Mr. He believes this is the first time the Chinese people have waged a struggle of this type. “We hope with our actions, we have shown to all Chinese and Asian people in Montreal that one should never be afraid to stand up for civil rights and to fight racism.” Mr. Liu was moved to take action when he read about the case in the Chinese newspapers. “We have the right to speak out, supporting fellow Chinese workers was the right thing to do. I did not know the Calego workers but I had a sense of shared responsibility to defend them.”

Together, the workers and their supporters collected 300 names in a signature campaign and raised money from the community for their legal fees. They are represented by the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR). These workers will need ongoing support to carry on their legal case.

http://www.lesaffaires.com/secteurs-d-activite/general/discrimination-a-l-egard-de-chinois-au-quebec/529766

http://www.crarr.org/?q=node/10090