Thursday, 12 April 2018

50 Years in Canada

April 14, 1968 - my father and his family set foot for the first time in Canada. 

Today marks the 50th anniversary. I am forever grateful to my Papa and Grandma Betty for taking that leap of faith to move their family of six to a country they had never set foot in. 

I only know my dad's version of their move - I am sure my uncles would have more to say!

My Papa and Grandma Betty with their 4 sons. L-R: Uncle Michael, Uncle Patrick, my Dad (in the pink shirt), and Uncle Robert
As I understand, they moved from Hong Kong as they were unsure what their hometown would be like once the Communists arrived (takeover took place in 1997). They chose Vancouver as it would be closest to my Grandmother's sisters, in nearby Seattle.  It was also a close decision as they could have moved to Australia, where most of my Papa's family was.

My father told me that he did not know anyone in Vancouver. He had no friends. He didn't even know how to drive a car. It was very difficult for him as he left a good job in Hong Kong, a great social life, and so much more - even though he spoke fluent English. In my recent conversation with him, Dad told me that he had to take transit home (in the 60s, it can't have been as good as it is today!), and would often walk home for miles in the snow on the way home from work.

I do recall one of my uncles saying that Grandma Betty didn't really know how to cook (they had servants!) until they arrived. The Macanese dish of rice and minchee (ground pork and beef mixed with two kinds of soy sauce, diced onions and LOTS of brown sugar) were likely staples.
What a typical Minchee dish looks like. Trust me, it's VERY appetizing and freezer friendly!
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
How much we take for granted how good we have it here - myself included. Children of immigrants really don't get how difficult it is to relocate to a completely foreign country, until they have to move themselves (in my case, I moved to nearby Victoria - but it felt like a HUGE move to me as I didn't know anyone there!). The sadness. The fear. The excitement.

Family Photo in their old house on Robinson Avenue in Coquitlam - I still remember that house!
I thought to write about my Dad's family as my father has played an incredible role in my life (and mom too!); this chapter of his life has had a butterfly effect. Had he not moved to Canada, he might not have married my mom (who arrived five years later), and I might not have existed. I also recognize that my Asian heritage, while growing up in Canada has played an important role in shaping the person I am. I am constantly reminded that any kind of struggle - from relocating to dealing with daily challenges - is necessary in developing character. 

Happy 50th once again. Papa and Grandma Betty would be so thrilled to see their great-grandchildren thriving (and bringing Scotch to mommy!).

My youngest brought this bottle of scotch to me one day while I was folding laundry upstairs... I did not recognize the 'klink klink' sounds as she was carrying it upstairs!
Miss you Papa and Grandma! (Their drink of choice)

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