Chinese Canadians are a big part of modern Canada. With Chinese New Year approaching on February 10th, we bring you a few fun facts and things to do to celebrate Canada's rich culture.
The Chinese were among the very earliest settlers of Canada. The very first Chinese to settle in Canada were 50 artisans to help build a trading post in 1788. They accompanied Captain John Meares, who was later driven out by the Spanish who wanted the trade monopoly on the West Coast. Many Chinese were left behind and some married aboriginal women.
Seventy years later in 1858, Chinese immigrants started to arrive from San Francisco for the Fraser Valley's Gold Rush. By 1860 there were 7,000 Chinese populating the West Coast. Barkerville, BC became Canada's first Chinese community.
But life was not easy for them. Their rights were restricted by the General Registers of Chinese Immigration. This 'Head Tax' was not abolished until 1949, nearly 100 years later. Certainly not a proud part of Canadian history, but great efforts to study this era continues today to ensure that history does not repeat itself.
Today, Chinese Canadians make up 1.3 million of Canada's population (2006 census). They are among the best educated and the highest earners of western society and their contributions to our nation since its beginnings have enriched Canadian culture in countless ways. Who doesn't like Chinese food anyway? I personally would be annoyed if I had to travel to China for my weekly Kung Pao and Chow Mein!
First Canadian-born Chinese. Won Alexander Cumyow was born in Port Douglas, then the Colony of British Columbia, in 1861.
Chinese New Year Celebrations. Chinese New Year is a festival celebration that lasts fifteen days, not one.
Chinese New Year's 'Dragon' Dance. Most of us have seen this type of performance whether in a Chinese community for New Year's or on TV. There are two animals, not one, that are believed to bring good luck for the new year – the lion and the dragon.
Chinese New Year Fun For the Kiddies. SayItCanada has included colouring pages and a bedtime story for this year's Chinese New Year celebrations:
See Year of the Dragon 2013, Chinese New Year Customs and Superstitions, and The Chinese New Year Feast for more about Chinese New Year with SayItCanada.
Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year! •
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