Chinese Canadian

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A Chinese Canadian (Chinese:華裔加拿大人,加拿大華人) is a person of Chinese descent or origin who was born in or immigrated to Canada. Considered from the perspective of China, they are a group of overseas Chinese. In 2001, there were 1,094,700 Canadians of Chinese descent, 100,000 having mixed ancestry. The Chinese are the largest visible minority group in Canada, comprising 3.5% of the population in 2001. <ref name="StatCan">"Chinese Canadians: Enriching the cultural mosaic," Canadian Social Trends, Spring 2005, no. 76 </ref>

The gate to Montreal's Chinatown


[edit] History of Chinese immigration to Canada

Main article: History of Chinese immigration to Canada

[edit] History

The first record of Chinese in what is known as Canada today can be dated back to 1788. The renegade British Captain James Meares hired a group of roughly 70 Chinese carpenters from Macao and settled them on Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, then an increasingly important European outpost on the Pacific coast. However, there is no surviving documentation or information related to the whereabouts of these early immigrants to Canada or their possible descendants.

The next more substantial wave of Chinese immigrants into British North America began in 1858. Most of these Chinese were "sojourners" in a sense, in that most of them planned on returning to their homeland after working in British North America for a period of time. They were mostly rural Cantonese who were at the lower end of the social ladder. Most of them came to British Columbia as common labourers and most were paid only in vouchers so they were captives of the firm that imported them. Gold rushes at the BC interior also attracted a significant number of Chinese to BC.

Many workers from Fujian and Guangdong Province arrived to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 19th century as did Chinese veterans of the gold rushes. These workers accepted the discriminatory disadvantages of working long hours, lower wages than non-Chinese workers and dangerous working conditions such as explosions for the mountain passes, in order to support their families that stayed in China. Their willingness to endure hardship for low wages enraged fellow non-Chinese workers who thought they were unnecessarily complicating the labour market situations. From the passage of the Chinese Immigration Act in 1885, the Canadian government began to charge a substantial Head Tax for each Chinese person trying to immigrate to Canada. The Chinese were the only ethnic group that had to pay such a tax.

In 1923, the federal Liberal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King banned Chinese immigration completely with the passage of the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923. With this act, the Chinese became the only people that Canada specifically excluded on the basis of race. During the next 25 years more and more laws against the Chinese were passed. Most jobs were closed to Chinese men and women, so many Chinese opened their own restaurant and laundry businesses. In British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, Chinese employers were not allowed to hire white females, so most Chinese businesses became Chinese-only.

Some of those Chinese Canadian workers settled in Canada after the railway was constructed. But most could not bring the rest of their family, not even their immediate family, to Canada because of government restrictions and enormous processing fees. Their contacts with non-Chinese were restricted as well, officially and unofficially. They established Chinatowns and societies in undesirable sections of the cities.

During the Great Depression, life was even tougher for the Chinese than it was for other Canadians. In Alberta, for example, Chinese-Canadians received relief payments of less than half the amount paid to other Canadians. And because The Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited any additional immigration from China, the Chinese men who had arrived earlier had to face these hardships alone, without the companionship of their wives and children. Census data from 1931 shows that there were 1240 men to every 100 women in Chinese-Canadian communities. To protest The Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese-Canadians closed their businesses and boycotted Dominion Day celebrations every July 1st, which became known as “Humiliation Day” by the Chinese-Canadians.

Canada was slow to lift the restrictions against the Chinese-Canadians and grant them full rights as Canadian citizens. Because Canada signed the United Nations Charter of Human Rights at the conclusion of the Second World War, the Canadian government had to repeal the Chinese Exclusion Act, which contravened the UN Charter. In that same year, 1947, Chinese-Canadians were finally granted the right to vote in federal elections. But it took another 20 years, until the points system was adopted for selecting immigrants, that the Chinese began to be admitted under the same criteria as any other applicants.

After many years of organized calls for an official Canadian government public apology and redress to the historic Head tax, the minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper announced as part of their pre-election campaign, an official apology. On Thursday, June 22, 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered a message of redress in the House of Commons, calling it a "grave injustice".

Some educated Chinese arrived in Canada during the war as refugees. Since the mid-20th century, most new Chinese Canadians come from university-educated families, one of whose most essential values is still quality education. These newcomers are a major part of the "Brain gain" the inverse of the infamous "Brain drain", i.e., Canadians leaving to the United States of America, which Chinese have also been a part of.

Chinese Indonesians first arrived in Canada in 1960s during anti-Chinese riots in Indonesia. From 1970s – 1999, many more Chinese Indonesians settled Canada.

Many Chinese from Vietnam, Laos, and Kampuchea came to Canada as refugees in the aftermath of Vietnam War. Early Chinese Canadians have close relationships with them as a result of their Chinese heritage. They lived mostly in Quebec.

Many Chinese from Latin America also came in large numbers. Most important are Nicaraguans who fled from the dictatorial Somoza rule and dangerous earthquake in 1980’s, Peruvians who also escaped from earthquake and cruel Velasco regime, and Brazilians. These Chinese are concentrated in Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.

There was a significant influx of wealthy Chinese from Hong Kong in the early and mid-1990s. These Chinese immigrants were worried about the pending handover of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China and Canada was a preferred location, in part because investment visas were significantly easier to obtain than visas to the United States. Vancouver, Richmond, and Toronto were the major destinations of these Chinese. During those years, immigrants from Hong Kong alone made up to 46% of all immigrants to Canada.

Today, mainland China has taken over from Hong Kong and Taiwan as the largest source of Chinese immigration.

Few Chinese came from Pacific Islands, mostly Fiji, French Polynesia, and New Zealand. Chinese Australians also stayed in Canada.

[edit] Statistics

In 2001, 25% of Chinese in Canada were Canadian-born.<ref name="StatCan">"Chinese Canadians: Enriching the cultural mosaic," Canadian Social Trends, Spring 2005, no. 76 </ref>

[edit] Language

In 2001, 85% of Chinese reported having a conversational knowledge of at least one official language, while 15% reported that they could not speak English nor French. Of those who could not speak an official language, 50% immigrated to Canada in the 1990s, while 22% immigrated in the 1980s. These immigrants tended to be in the older age groups. Of prime working-age Chinese immigrants, 89% reported knowing at least one official language.<ref name="StatCan" />

In 2001, Chinese was the third-most common reported mother tongue, after English and French. 3% of the population, or 872,000 people, reported the Chinese language as their mother tongue — the language that they learned as a child and still understand. The most common Chinese mother tongue is Cantonese. Of these people, 44% were born in Hong Kong, 27% were born in the People's Republic of China, and 18% were Canadian-born. The second-most common reported Chinese mother tongue was Mandarin. Of these people, 85% were born in the People's Republic of China or Taiwan, 7% were Canadian-born, and 2% were born in Malaysia.<ref name="StatCan" />

There is evidence of language loss among Canadian-born Chinese:<ref name="StatCan" />

However, only about 790,500 people reported speaking a Chinese language at home on a regular basis, 81,900 fewer than those who reported having a Chinese mother tongue. This suggests some language loss has occurred, mainly among the Canadian-born who learned Chinese as a child, but who may not speak it regularly or do not use it as their main language at home.

[edit] Immigration

In 2001, almost 75% of the Chinese population in Canada lived in either Toronto or Vancouver. The Chinese population was 17% in Vancouver and 9% in Toronto.<ref name="StatCan" />

More than 50% of the Chinese immigrants who just arrived in 2000/2001 reported that their reason for settling in a given region was because their family and friends already lived there. About 25% reported that they settled in Toronto because of job prospects, while many in Vancouver said the reason was the climate.<ref name="StatCan" />

[edit] Education and employment

In 2001, 31% of Chinese in Canada, both foreign-born and Canadian-born, had a university education, almost double the national average of 18%.<ref name="StatCan" />

Of prime working-age Chinese in Canada, about 20% were in sales and services; 20% in business, finance, and administration; 16% in natural and applied sciences; 13% in management; and 11% in processing, manufacturing, and utilities.<ref name="StatCan" />

Chinese who immigrated to Canada in the 1990s and were of prime working-age in 2001 had an employment rate of 61%, which was lower than the national average of 80%. Many reported that the recognition of foreign qualifications was a major issue. However, the employment rate for Canadian-born Chinese men of prime working-age was 86%, the same as the national average. The employment rate for Canadian-born Chinese women of prime working-age was 83%, which was higher than the national average of 76%.<ref name="StatCan" />

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[edit] Given names

Most Chinese Canadians have the Romanization of their Chinese given names as their middle name[citation needed], or the other way around, but generally prefer to be called in their English name[citation needed]. Some have French names, those from Macao and Brazil generally already have Portuguese names, and Chinese Hispanics and some Chinese Filipinos have Spanish names. However, some consider their names easily pronounced by non-Chinese, so their only given name is in Chinese. However, there are an increasing number whose first and middle names are entirely Western. [citations needed]

[edit] China-born

On the other hand, there are also those newcomers who try hard to participate in various aspects of Canadian society and strive to speak native-level English or French. But such embraces of Canadian culture do not necessarily guarantee a successful fit into Canadian society. They still find it difficult to get into any of the careers of their choice. As a result, some such people also have to return to China. But due to their high degree of acculturation into Canadian culture and the growing distance from Chinese culture, they sometimes have a difficult adjustment back into their Chinese society, most noticeably linguistically.[citations needed]

The most recent Canadian census showed that 29% of immigrants from China could not speak either official language; the highest level among all measured countries of origin.[citation needed]

[edit] Canadian-born

Canadian-born Chinese, or "Jook-sing" as Cantonese natives refer to them, are the offspring of Chinese Canadian immigrants. More recent first-generation immigrants may refer to them as "CBC"s (Canadian-born Chinese), a parallel to ABC (American-born Chinese), and a contrast to the term "FOB"s (Fresh off the boat) which may be used in return. While the term "CBC" emphasizes their Chinese-ness, the term "CBCs" is not monolithic and can refer to a broad spectrum of social tendencies. Within the categories of "CBC", there exist many different outlooks on the relationship between their national upbringing and their Chinese heritage.

On one end of the spectrum, some CBCs may share no interest in their heritage and fully identify with being Canadian, at times going as far to deny their heritage. They may referred to as "Bananas" or "Twinkies" since they may look Asian, but they do not speak Chinese and/or share little with Chinese culture - thus "yellow" on the outside and "white" on the inside. On the other side of the spectrum, are CBCs who do not identify with their national upbringing but connect completely with their Chinese heritage. These CBCs will socialise exclusively with Chinese immigrants or like-minded CBCs.[citations needed]

[edit] List of prominent Chinese Canadians

[edit] Ethnic Chinese in Canada

[edit] Canadian-born Chinese not currently residing in Canada

[edit] Chinese Canadians currently not residing in Canada

[edit] See also

[edit] References and footnotes

<references />

[edit] External links

Chinese Canadian

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