MP Jenny Kwan draws strength from her­itage

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS CANADA -

im­mi­grat­ing to Canada.

“It gave me the foun­da­tion, the un­der­stand­ing and the mo­ti­va­tion to re­turn to Canada and con­trib­ute in a more mean­ing­ful way,” she said.

Af­ter re­turn­ing, Kwan worked as an ad­vo­cate at the Down­town East­side Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion af­ter fin­ish­ing her bach­e­lor of arts de­gree in crim­i­nol­ogy at Si­mon Fraser Uni­ver­sity. The ad­vo­cacy work started her on a path to pol­i­tics.

In 1993, Kwan was elected the youngest coun­cil­lor to the Van­cou­ver City Coun­cil and later moved on to pro­vin­cial pol­i­tics in 1996.

In de­cid­ing which po­lit­i­cal party to join, Kwan re­searched and learned that it was NDP that fought for the rights of Chi­nese peo­ple. And in­deed, it has been 42 years since NDP Premier Dave Bar­rett brought the first Cana­dian pro­vin­cial del­e­ga­tion to China.

It was also for­mer premier Bar­rett’s govern­ment that funded the de­vel­op­ment of the Chi­nese Cul­tural Cen­tre as a means to pre­serve and pro­mote Chi­nese cul­ture in Bri­tish Co­lum­bia.

Kwan also found out that for­mer Van­cou­ver mayor Mike Har­court paired Van­cou­ver and Guangzhou as sis­ter cities in 1985. Then as a premier, he twinned Guang­dong with Bri­tish Co­lum­bia as sis­ter prov­inces. In­vest­ments were made to strengthen Chi­na­town with the de­vel­op­ment of the Chi­na­town Parkade.

Kwan joined the NDP and be­came part of the Glen Clark govern­ment in 2001. She was one of the first two Chi­nese Cana­di­ans elected to the BC Leg­is­la­ture and the first Chi­ne­seCana­dian cab­i­net min­is­ter.

“One of my first acts as a cab­i­net min­is­ter was to travel back to China with the premier and a team of busi­ness lead­ers to con­tinue to build re­la­tions with China,” she said.

Kwan had a great op­por­tu­nity to con­trib­ute to re­la­tions be­tween Canada and China and also to fo­cus on poli­cies im­por­tant to the Chi­nese com­mu­nity.

In 2005, Kwan and Mem­ber of the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly Mike Farn­worth trav­eled back to China to cel­e­brate Guang­dong’s 50th an­niver­sary of re­la­tions with for­eign coun­tries.

“We have and con­tinue to in­vite and re­ceive del­e­ga­tions from China in an ef­fort to con­tinue to build and ex­pand our re­la­tions with China to ex­change and pro­mote cul­tural, eco­nomic and in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Kwan said.

They or­ga­nized the sup­port of Bri­tish Columbians for the des­ig­na­tion of the Kaip­ing Watch Tow­ers as a UN­ESCO World Her­itage Site. They in­vited Shan­dong Satel­lite TV to Bri­tish Co­lum­bia and hosted an agri­cul­tural farm tour through BC that yielded 17 film episodes about the prov­ince’s agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and tourism op­por­tu­ni­ties.

They also or­ga­nized a con­fer­ence with Chi­nese and Cana­dian tourism oper­a­tors in prepa­ra­tion for the in­flux of tourists from China af­ter Canada re­ceived its ap­proved des­ti­na­tion sta­tus from China.

“China is now the sec­ond-largest econ­omy in the world — within 10 years, it will prob­a­bly be the largest. There is so much more govern­ment and each of us in­di­vid­u­ally can do to pro­mote cul­tural har­mony, eco­nomic ex­change and build on the great his­tory and re­la­tion­ship we have al­ready built,” Kwan said.

“Let’s con­tinue to work to­gether to strengthen these re­la­tion­ships for our coun­tries’ mu­tual ben­e­fits,” she said.

Kwan said she has re­turned to China nu­mer­ous times. “In fact, my first trip back to China was to find my roots, find out where my par­ents and grand­par­ents came from,” she said.

“I hope that my chil­dren will do that, too. I hope that they will go on their own to find their roots and to un­der­stand where their mom’s par­ents, and their par­ents and the par­ents be­fore them came from, and to re­mem­ber that his­tory and our own her­itage.”

One of my first acts as a cab­i­net min­is­ter was to travel back to China with the premier and a team of busi­ness lead­ers to con­tinue to build re­la­tions with China.”

NA LI / CHINA DAILY

Jenny Kwan, mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, Van­cou­ver East Jenny Kwan, mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Van­cou­ver East, said that be­com­ing Cana­dian does not mean that Chi­nese should forgo their her­itage.

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