Toronto Index Top Include

Joseph Wong

Posted: Feb 17, 2012 10:51 AM ET

One of the issues I've noticed in recent years is that there seems to be a lot more Chinese immigrants coming from Mainland China, and they're often single-child families.

Sometimes, these parents are not as fluent in English as earlier immigrants who came from Hong Kong, and they depend more on their child or children for help. That can be hard because youth are already going through a lot of emotional adaptations when they come here. Meanwhile, the whole family or parents may rely on these kids to translate, fill out forms - even to go to McDonalds'.

Sometimes more relatives come, and the youth have to act like a bridge for the younger ones as well. It can really put a lot of pressure on the child. Sometimes there are a lot of tears. But I guess pressure can be another way to help you grow and adapt.

For me it was hard, because my parents' English wasn't good. I had to do things like call the cable company, do bill payments, when someone called the house speaking English, I had to answer it all the time. At that time, I'd rather go to a friend's house to stay over to study or play because there was so much I needed to handle at home. At a younger age, you don't know that's important, but as you get older, you realize your parents sacrificed so much, and that it's your turn to take care of them.

So I guess it's a change that comes with getting older. When you're in high school you don't get that, you just feel the pressure.

At times though, it can be especially difficult. I know one girl whose father had cancer. In the hospital, she had to act as translator for both mom and dad. But when the doctor told her different news about the cancer, it was really hard to translate back to her parents. It was really emotionally difficult. It's one thing to have the doctor tell the patient, but it's another thing to absorb that news and re-tell it to your parents. There needs to be more support for these kids.

Is there a situation at home that puts you under pressure? Let us know.

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About Joseph Wong

Joseph Wong, Program Director, Across U-hub

Born in Hong Kong, Joseph immigrated to Canada as a child in the early 90s. He has experienced firsthand the struggles that young immigrants face.

For the past 7 years, Joseph has dedicated himself to youth work at Across U-hub, a non-profit organization based in Markham.

He has extensive experience in youth leadership program planning, youth mentorship, and partnerships with various organizations from different ethnic groups in the community.


York Region and immigration

10,000 - 12,000 newcomers a year
On average, 10,000 - 12,000 newcomers land in York Region each year, from countries including China/Hong Kong, India and other South Asian countries, South Korea and Iran.

Fastest growing in Ontario
Between 2001 and 2006, York Region was the fastest growing census division in Ontario and the third fasting growing in Canada. As of February 2011, York Region has a total estimated population of 1,065,159 people.

Immigrants will account for more than half
By 2031, York Region's population will be 1.5 million and immigrants will account for more than half (55 percent) of York region's total population.

Outpacing Toronto
Between 2001 and 2009, York Region saw a seven per cent increase in the number of immigrants directly landing from their country of origin, whereas Toronto saw a decrease of 27 per cent in the same period.

Needs reported to exceed services
When the York Region staff surveyed newcomer organizations, 44 per cent said that newcomers' needs exceeded capacity of their programs/services.

Highly educated
Newcomers arriving in York Region are highly educated. About 50 per cent have a certificate, diploma, bachelor's degree or higher.

First impressions don't always last
Within the initial months of landing, 52 per cent of newcomers "always" feel at home. After being here 3-5 years, this drops to 42 per cent.

Discrimination still reported
11 per cent of newcomers said they experienced discrimination. Those respondents who had experienced discrimination were twice as likely as other newcomers to feel at home either "rarely" or "never."

Alienation lingers for many
26 per cent of newcomers feel either "sometimes", "rarely" or "never" at home in their community.