Asian Heritage Month - Jackie

Illustration of Asian woman, overlooking a field of red flowers, with a yellow flower tucked behind her ears.

My Asian heritage, specifically Chinese-Hong Kong, defines my culture and the reason why I do certain things in certain ways. It means being different from the mainstream culture in Canada and always need to educate others (even though that is not my job) . It also means not eating turkey for thanksgiving but maybe Cantonese Poached Chicken (BAI QIE JI) instead because my household does not like eating turkey... it's so tough and rubbery! 

What is a challenge you face carrying/navigating this identity?

The biggest challenge of identifying myself as Chinese-Hong Kong-Canadian is navigating what that means in a Western society and what that means within the Chinese community. If you follow the news from last year, Hong Kong has made multiple global new headlines for months because of protests and revolutions. I am not here trying to debate whether or not Hong Kong is a country or no. I am here to define what it means to be someone who was born and raised in Hong Kong and got uprooted to Canada ever since I was a kid. Based on my appearance, I look oriental (I hate that word by the way, but I am using this vocabulary to make a point. If you don't know why this word is so politicalized, read up Edward Said. He can educate you). To white folks, I am Asian. To my fellow Asians, they might be able to tell I am Chinese. To my fellow Chinese, they don't even bother guessing, they will just start speaking their language to me... until I open my mouth and Cantonese roll out from my tongue. Then, the conversation stops. If you are Chinese and speak Cantonese, you are most likely from Hong Kong, Macau, or the south-east side of mainland China. Because of what is happening in Hong Kong and the history of colonialism (yes, Hong Kong was part of the UK colonial), our language has also became politicalized. To wrap up what I am trying to say, my identity has been politicalized more than ever before and it is complicated to explain to outsiders. But, when I meet fellow Chinese-Hong Kong-Canadians who shares similar beliefs, that wall of complication crumbles away instantly.

What is one thing about being Asian Canadian you wouldn’t trade for the world?

The greatest thing about being Asian Canadian is the ability to relate and sympathise with fellow Canadians. Everyone in this country has its root from somewhere else, unless your ancestors are from First Nation groups. Canada is an immigrant land that was originally owned by First Nations. Even if one identity themselves as First Nation, the cruelty of colonialism adds layers of complication into their identity. As such, being someone who carries more than two cultural identity allows me to understand the true meaning of diversity. Diversity is more than just the colour of our skin, it is also about our culture and our ancestral's past. 

What’s one positive thing keeping you during quarantine?/ What is a highlight of being in quarantine?

I have two, not just one because God is good! First, I have more time to read the Bible and connect with God through my prayer time, AMENNN JESUS! Second, I have been drawing my butt off! As a kid, I have always love drawing. But being Asian and raised by traditional Chinese parents, I have been brainwashed to believe that one cannot rely on art to sustain life necessity. However, with this new granted time, I picked up my pen again and I am drawing days and nights. I feel like I am trying to catch up to all time I have missed to draw :)





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