Chi­nese-First Na­tions history ex­plored

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By HATTY LIU in Van­cou­ver For China Daily

A lit­tle-known chap­ter in the history shared by early Chi­nese im­mi­grants and the in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties of Bri­tish Columbia will soon find its way to film fes­ti­vals across North Amer­ica, thanks to a BC grant of $20,000 for a doc­u­men­tary on a Chi­nese-Musqueam fam­ily in Van­cou­ver.

The doc­u­men­tary, called Al­lOur Fa­ther’s Re­la­tions, tells the story of the Grant fam­ily, who are of mixed Chi­nese and Musqueam her­itage, from their child­hood in Musqueam to their first trip to their fa­ther’s an­ces­tral vil­lage in China in 2013.

The fund­ing was an­nounced by Teresa Wat, BC min­is­ter of in­ter­na­tional trade, Asia Pa­cific strat­egy and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, at a press con­fer­ence on Aug 12 at the Musqueam Cul­tural Ed­u­ca­tion Re­source Cen­tre within the tra­di­tional ter­ri­tory of the Musqueam First Na­tion in Van­cou­ver.

“Our gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to rec­og­niz­ing the im­por­tant legacy and con­tri­bu­tions of Chi­nese Cana­di­ans to Bri­tish Columbia as part of ful­fill­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions in the Chi­nese His­tor­i­cal Wrongs Con­sul­ta­tion Fi­nal Re­port,” Wat said in a state­ment.

The con­fer­ence was at­tended by the film­mak­ers, mem­bers of the Grant fam­ily fea­tured in the film, China’s Con­sul Gen­eral Liu Fei and dig­ni­taries from lo­cal Chi­nese and First Na­tions com­mu­ni­ties.

Chief Wayne Spar­row of the Musqueam In­dian Band gave an open­ing ad­dress wel­com­ing the guests to Musqueam ter­ri­tory and sang a welcome song on be­half of the com­mu­nity.

In a state­ment to the press, Chief Spar­row said that the story of the Chi­nese on Musqueam ter­ri­tory “is a sig­nif­i­cant part of our com­mu­nity’s history.”

“When we first wel­comed the Chi­nese to Musqueam, they came to us with re­spect and a de­sire for a longterm re­la­tion­ship,” he said. “We are happy to see that again to­day.”

Al­lOurFather’s Re­la­tions fo­cuses on four Musqueam el­ders and sib­lings — Gor­don Grant, Larry Grant, He­len Call­breath and Howard Grant — whose fa­ther, Hong Tim Hing, left the vil­lage of Sei Moon in Guang­dong in 1921 to seek work in Van­cou­ver.

The Musqueam peo­ple wel­comed Hong to live and farm in their com­mu­nity. Ac­cord­ing to Larry Grant, in an ear­lier video pro­duced by the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia Cana­dian Sto­ries Pro­ject, Chi­nese farm­ers had been rent­ing Musqueam land since 1906, ini­tially with­out the knowl­edge of the Depart­ment of In­dian Af­fairs.

The Chi­nese brought or­ganic farm­ing meth­ods from their home­land and grew Chi­nese veg­eta­bles for mar­ket gar­dens. Many lived in the Musqueam com­mu­nity for gen­er­a­tions.

Hong later mar­ried Agnes Grant of Musqueam, and their chil­dren grew up on the fam­ily’s mar­ket gar­den on the Musqueam In­dian Re­serve 2, even though the law pro­hib­ited their par­ents from liv­ing to­gether.

In Novem­ber 2013, Gor­don, Larry and Howard Grant re­traced their fa­ther’s foot­steps to Guang­dong to dis­cover the home­land they never knew.

Their ex­pe­ri­ences in China were recorded by Van­cou­ver film­maker Ale­jan­dro Yoshizawa and Sarah Wai Yee Ling, a fourth-gen­er­a­tion Chi­nese-Bri­tish Columbian and re­searcher of Chi­nese and Musqueam in­ter­cul­tural history.

“There is a long history of Chi­nese farm­ing in Musqueam on the re­serve, and many im­por­tant re­la­tion­ships were formed,” Ling told China Daily. “It is im­por­tant for us to re­mem­ber this history by cre­at­ing ed­u­ca­tion re­sources like a doc­u­men­tary film, be­cause it is not be­ing taught in the schools.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ling, Al­lOurFather’s Re­la­tions will aim to show the con­ver­gence of the history of Chi­nese farm­ing in Musqueam and shared chal­lenges of the Chi­nese and First Na­tions un­der Cana­dian gov­ern­ment poli­cies through the Grant fam­ily’s history.

“They are Musqueam el­ders who have many im­por­tant sto­ries to share with us about what it was like to grow up in both com­mu­ni­ties and the hard­ships both groups faced,” Ling said. “But also how we can look at this story and build re­spect­ful re­la­tion­ships to­day.”

“There are many new Chi­nese im­mi­grants com­ing to Canada, on First Na­tions land, and it is im­por­tant for them to un­der­stand where they are and the long history of strug­gle and con­tri­bu­tion from the early Chi­nese who came from Guang­dong province,” Ling said.

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