Finding Community: Connecting with Other Chinese Immigrants in Richmond (Short Film Series)

In the past few decades, Richmond has solidified its reputation as a vibrant diasporic community. The journey of Chinese immigrants to Canada has been exciting, challenging, and nothing close to monolithic. For many, the decision to immigrate was not an easy one. Migrants had to leave behind their homes, their families, and their communities in order to start a new life in Canada.

Our recent collaboration with Richmond Museum tasked our student researchers to interview immigrants to unveil intergenerational experiences of migration and multilingualism among Chinese Canadians in Richmond.

Stories of New Beginnings

INSTRCC student researchers Gillian Chan, Kristy Lin, Tiffany Mak, and Daniel Chen talked with Chinese immigrants about their experiences in Richmond, BC and Canada, asking them about everything from language and food to Asian heritage and discrimination. The result was an 11-part short film series that’s now posted on Richmond Museum’s Vimeo channel

“What dishes remind you of home?”

“What local resources helped bring you closer to the local community?”

“What lifestyle changes did you have to make after moving to Canada?”

Breaking Barriers

Adjusting to a new culture, learning a new language, and facing racial discrimination were just a few of the obstacles they had to overcome. It was not always easy, but with support from the local community and determination, they were able to build a new life for themselves in Canada.

Shortly after Lee Chen (from Shanghai, China, 2014) first immigrated to Powell River, BC, she saw signs that said Asians and Chinese people should get out: “Our community… organized a town hall and invited… Chinese immigrants plus immigrant residents from other ethnic backgrounds.”

Illustration and Animation by Debbie Liang

In addition to gathering families to meet and hang out, the organizers ran an activity where attendees shared when their families first arrived in Canada. Chen reflects: “The purpose of the activity is to show that not many folks have been Canadian for more than 3 generations… I was extremely touched by everyone’s empathy and the welcoming culture I experienced that day.”

You can find the rest of Lee’s migration story and the stories of 6 other participants on Richmond Museum’s Vimeo channel

UBC INSTRCC is proud to have produced these videos in partnership with Richmond Museum. We would all like to thank the wonderful participants who volunteered to share their experiences in this project.

Written by Daniel Chen