PEI

New project tells the stories of Chinese immigrants to Canada

Here We Stay, an oral history project, was launched at The Guild in Charlottetown on Monday night to celebrate the contribution of Chinese immigrants across the country to Canadian culture.

'I never dreamed of seeing so many Chinese here'

Hung-Min Chiang says it's terrific to be part of the Here We Stay project. (Stephanie Kelly/CBC)

When Hung-Min Chiang moved to P.E.I. in 1967, his family was one of a handful of Chinese immigrants on the Island.

That's changed dramatically in recent years on the Island and across the country.

"It's beyond words, I never dreamed of seeing so many Chinese here," Chiang said.

He was born in Taiwan, went to the U.S. to study, and after obtaining his PhD went to Prince Edward Island on the recommendation of his teacher.

Now, stories like Chiang's are being told through a new oral history project called Here We Stay.

It was launched at the Guild in Charlottetown on Monday night to celebrate the contribution of Chinese immigrants across the country to Canadian culture. The project has a goal to tell 155 stories of Chinese immigrants by the year 2022, when Canada marks 155 years since Confederation.

Chiang said it is terrific to be part of the project.

Translating oral records

Charlottetown's Fred Wang and HK are leaders on the project.

"Here We Stay  means all the Chinese immigrants who live here. We regard Canada as our new home," HK said.

HK says the project is a way to encourage 'diversity culture.' (Stephanie Kelly/CBC)

Chinese immigrants are interviewed to get the story of how they came to Canada, their experiences and their dreams.

"We will be responsible to translate their oral records into text like books, like image, photos and film, videos," HK said.

Most Chinese immigrants who live on the Island that have been interviewed say P.E.I. is 'very friendly' and Islanders are 'very helpful,' says Fred Wang (Stephanie Kelly/CBC)

The stories will include topics such as what living conditions were like in China that made some want to leave, why they chose Canada, and why they chose the city they live in now.

"Chinese people have their dreams. They just want to find a place that they can live quiet, with peace and be very happy," Wang said.

'Responsibility to distribute this culture'

HK said he thinks the project is a way to encourage diversity.

"Other countries are learning from Canada and I think we have the responsibility to distribute this culture to the world, to China, to other regions," he said.

Most Chinese immigrants who live on the Island that have been interviewed say P.E.I. is "very friendly" and Islanders are "very helpful," Wang said.

"We just use oral history to record honestly the stories of the Chinese immigrants in Canada," HK said.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Stephanie Kelly

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.