I was not quite a year old when my family immigrated from Hong Kong to Vancouver. I did not speak English until I was three. In kindergarten, I was kicked out of ESL class. I’m part of a subgroup of our society who are immigrants, but grew up as Canadian as Double-Doubles.
Being raised in Vancouver by immigrant parents was a dichotomous experience and gives me a unique perspective on how things work in our city.
As a child, I never really felt racism.
The schools I attended had high percentages of Asians in their student populations. Sure, there was the use of “Hongers” to describe our classmates who were newer to Canada, but I never felt the term applied to me. I didn’t realize at the time how wrong it was to be classifying others that way.
Indeed, I was part of the minority privileged – those equally fluent in Cantonese and English — and easily able to switch between our ethnic and social identities. It wasn’t until about five years ago that I started to really examine racism in Vancouver.
The impetus of this is a vague memory now…