Chinese Migration to Canada

ChineseMigration toCanada

Thenumberof immigrantfrom differentpartsof theworldmovinginto North America has beenincreasingover theyears.Intheearlydaysof immigration,immigrantswhomovedinto Canada camewith immensehopeandbigdreamsof transformingtheir lives,awayfrom thechallenging economicstimesin China (Zhang 10).Nonetheless,fewwerepreparedforthemassivechangesthatthenewsceneryfronted, anddidnot evenpossessknowledgeon howto tacklethechallengesin America. Theessay“whymy mothercan’t speakEnglish” by Garry Engkent and“I’ma banana andproudof it”by Wayson touchon a similartopicrelatingto lifeof Chinese immigrantsin America.Thispaperwill exemplifytheelementsthat makeyoungerimmigrantsacclimatize andadjustto diverseculturesandlanguagesin hostcountriesfaster vis-à-vis theoldergenerationof immigrants.

Choyworkhighlights thealienationthat immigrantsgothrough in America after movingfrom their homelandin searchof betterlives.From Choy’s essay,wedrawfundamentalfactorsthat enableimmigrantsintegrateinto theAmerican societyquicklydespite thatfactthattheyfeelleftout of their Chinese wayof life.MorespecificallyyoungerChinese immigrantsareabletoadapttothe newenvironmentin theCanada becausetheyare moreopento newideasandwayof lifeof theCanadian (Flachmann 1). Theyoungergenerationsare moresusceptibleto Canadian culturerampantin televisions,filmanddifferentgenreof music.Evenwith theavailability of manymeansthrough which Chinese immigrantswould learntheCanadian wayof life,thepioneerimmigrantfacedtremendousdifficultiesas theycould not be ableto shakeoff theChinese culture(Zhang 12).Thismeantthatmanycould not andwerenot willingto embracetheCanadian culture.Thisis a phenomenonthat is supportedby Garry Engkent in his essay“ whymy mothercan’t speakEnglish”. Engkent concurswith Choy thatthenewculturein a foreignlandposedan immensechallengeto Chinese immigrantsas theysoughtforwaysandmeansthrough which theycould becomeintegratedinto theCanadian society.BothauthoralsoagreesthatmanyChinese immigrantsweremovedto Canada becausethecountryofferedbettereconomicprospectsthantheir homeland.Through a narrationof thestrugglesthat his motherwentthrough,we are able to know that pioneerimmigrantswereunableto abandontheir Chinese wayof lifeandculture,evenamid pressurefrom differentquartersZhang 11). Perhapsthemostimportantaspectthat depictedimmigrantweregraduallygettingassimilatedinto thenewCanadian culturewasfluencyin English. Itwasalsoa requirementforthosewhowantedto becomeCanadian citizens.Engkent statesthathis motherconstantlykeepson referringto theChinese termsandholdsdeartheChinese heritage.His motherlivesin constantfearthatshemight bedeportedbecauseof her inabilitytolearnEnglish andtheCanadian wayof life(Zhang 13).

Itis apparentfrom thetwo essaysthatmanyChinese would liketo becomeCanadian citizens.Indeed,thisis whatChoy refersto a banana, a phenomenonthat denotestheunderlying principlethatmanyChinese pursue.Bananameans“yellowon theoutsideandwhite inside”(Flachmann 1). Thismeansthatthesecond-generationChinese actandbehavelike Canadian butstilllike Asians. In fact,Choydoesnot regardthisas a racistrantbecauseitdepictstherealstateof affairs(Alena 6). Nonetheless,Chineseimmigrantsfacedoubletragedytheymust endureracialbiasfrom Canadians andcannot applyforcitizenship due to theexclusionclausethat doesnot allowdoublenationality.ManyChinese immigrantswereonlyableto gaintheCanadian citizenship after theSecond World War, after their participationin thearmy.Theeconomicslumpof 1920s hadreducedtheeconomicprospectsin Canada,andthedebilitating warhadopenedopportunitiesformanymento acquireCanadian citizenship (Calgary Chinese Community Service Association3). EventhoughEngkent’s motherhas stayedin Canada formanyyears,sheis reluctantto closetheculturalandlinguisticboundaries.Chinese immigrantshavea formof seclusionthat servesas meansforself-protection. Amid themassivepressureof beingdisjointed andmaltreatedas foreigners,earlyChinese immigrantsin North America builtculturalenclavisminto a strategicshieldto safeguard theautonomyof their self-identity (Zhang 11).

Choyindicatesthatparentencouragedtheir childrento pursueeducationto thehighestlevel to augmenttheir economicopportunitiesbutalsoremindedthem not to forgettheir Chinese culture.Thesameisechoedby Engkent,whoindicatesthathis motherhadnooptionbutto learnEnglish after his father’sdeath.In reality,themainreasonthat preventedher motherfrom learningEnglish wasfearthatitwould changeher Chinese soul.Chinese culturemeanteverything to Engkent mother,andshewasnot preparedto abandonit,eventhoughitsignificantly impededher progressandabilityto learnthenewlanguage.TheelderscriticizetheyoungChinese fortheineptandlackof understandingof their roots,traditionandculture.

Inthecourseof history,Chineseimmigrantshavefaceddiscriminationandhavehadto overcomehugebarriersto gainCanadian citizenship. Theaccountsof eventsas describedby Engkent Garry andChoy Wayson depictthechallenging environmentChinese faced, that wasfullof bias,hardshipandtribulations.Itis evidentthattheyounggenerationfounditeasyto integratewith Canadian andlearnWestern wayof lifebecausetheyweremoreopentothe newcultureandpursuedwesterneducationthat enabledthemto learnEnglish. Thesamecould not besaidabout theoldguardswhohangon to theChinese traditionsandfounditdifficultto adaptto thenewchangesin Canada.

WorksCited

AlenaChercover. “His Paper Family Knew Their Place”: Diasporic Spacein Wayson Choy’s All That Matters1. University of Victoria.Postcolonial Text, Vol 6, No 3 (2011)

CalgaryChinese Community Service Association.Chinese-Canadian Achievements, Trials and Tribulations, Past andPresent. Calgary,Alberta. 2000.

Flachmannetal.I`ma Banana and Proud of It by Wayson Choy (1939- ).Reader’s Choice : Toronto: Prentice Hall Allyn and Bacon Canada,2000. Retrieved from: http://www.geocities.ws/dhlphenuse/banana.html

Zhang,Benzi.AsianDiaspora Poetry in North America.NewYork: Routledge Press.2007. Print