Mah Society of Edmonton centennial: A family reunion for 10,000 people
‘Who doesn’t want a chance to party with all their friends and family?’ says one of many, many Edmonton Mahs
Don and Jessica Mah poured over the final proof for a new booklet this week.
The society is marking its centennial, a proud history of helping people from China with the surname of Mah, many who came to Canada to help build the railroad.
"It's very emotional to tell you the truth," said Don Mah, who has been president of the society for the last decade.
"Just imagine yourself; you came here, you had very little understanding of the English language, you had no idea what the culture is, and you're here working so you can provide a better life for your family."
Enduring hardship, discrimination and racism, he had a number of jobs before landing a gig in a laundromat.
"They had very little room to stay, so he used to sleep on the big ironing boards," his granddaughter said.
Now Winnie Mah is helping to organize a tribute to their ancestors this weekend, including a Chinese buffet banquet for 500 people.
She estimates there are 8,000 to 10,000 Mahs in Edmonton.
"Who doesn't want a chance to party with all their friends and family?" Winnie Mah said.
"If we go back four or five generations, we can trace back what the connection is, which is awesome. You can't do that in many families. We're pretty proud to be able to do that."
As part of the next generation of leaders, she knows her work is special.
"One of the Chinese traditions is to dot the eye of the lion, to breathe new life into something brand new — the next 100 years of our society," she said.