A gaggle of Canadian Hong Kongers are encouraging Canadians with Hong Kong heritage to determine themselves as Hongkonger within the 2021 census in an effort to strengthen the neighborhood’s diaspora.
“We need to present the world that this (Hong Konger) id exists,” stated Maya Lee, a spokesperson for the #IAmHongKonger marketing campaign. “We converse Cantonese, have our personal tradition and our lived expertise as Hongkongers may be very distinctive.”
Each 5 years, the Canadian authorities conducts a nationwide census to gather data on the nation’s demographics in addition to the social and financial state of affairs of its residents.
In response to the 2016 census, 215,750 respondents listed Hong Kong as their homeland.
Lee, who was born in Hong Kong to a Canadian mother or father, moved again to Canada 5 years in the past to check on the College of Toronto.
She stated she at all times felt a really sturdy connection to her Hong Kong id.
“For me, there’s this Hong Konger spirit… We’ve a really sturdy sense of neighborhood,” stated Lee.
Whereas the 2016 census solely included 255 reported ethnic origins, which didn’t embody Hongkonger, the 2021 census has made modifications to the questions, and can present a listing of over 500 examples of ethnic and cultural origins in an effort to handle gaps in earlier questionnaires.
In an e mail, Statistics Canada acknowledged that Hongkonger has been included within the checklist of examples.
“Primarily based on 2016 response counts, our deliberate assumption is that ‘Hong Konger; can be a class in disseminated information tables for the 2021 Census that characteristic the ethnic or cultural origins variable,” it acknowledged.
In 1997, the UK handed sovereignty of Hong Kong over to China, with a promise of “one nation, two programs,” which allowed Hong Kong to keep up its political and financial freedom. But, many questioned whether or not such freedom would stay.
When wanting on the historical past of Hong Kong, Lee thinks there’s the trauma of colonization, displacements and political disagreement that Hongkongers have lived via and are nonetheless affected by. She stated she thinks these lived experiences of Hongkongers additionally outline their id.
Leo Shin, a professor of Asian Research and Historical past on the College of British Columbia, stated there isn’t “a easy story of Hong Kong or of Hong Kong id.”
Shin stated individuals typically discover consolation in sure narratives of Hong Kong. For the longest time, the town’s tradition has been seen because the embodiment of the place “East meets West,” or a spot of uncertainty the place many take refuge, he stated.
“In fact, not all tales are equally persuasive, however we do inform tales to make sense of our identities,” he stated.
Shin can be the convenor of the Hong Kong Research Initiative, an initiative at UBC devoted to selling the instructing and analysis of the town.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Shin was educated within the U.S. He moved to Toronto together with his household in 1989, which in accordance with Shin was “proper in the midst of the wave of migration triggered by the 1997 query.”
Within the ’90s, Canada noticed an inflow of immigration from Hong Kong. In response to Statistics Canada, one-Tenth of latest immigrants in 1996 have been from Hong Kong, together with migrants from China, India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
In 1996, there have been 1,039,000 latest immigrants, which means those that immigrated to Canada between 1991 and 1996, with nearly 1 / 4 of latest immigrants from East Asia.
Forty-nine-year-old Alex Ngai was considered one of them. In 1997, Ngai got here to Canada to reunite together with his household in Canada after ending his training in the UK.
Ngai stated every time individuals ask the place he’s from, he would say Hong Kong. He added that it takes some effort and time for him to clarify his id to individuals as there isn’t any formal recognition for the Hong Kong id in Canada.
He stated individuals typically combine him up together with his colleagues from mainland China and Taiwan due to the similarity in look.
Ngai additionally added that except individuals have some information about Hong Kong, most will solely see Hong Kong as a dot on the map inside China.
“That’s why I feel we have to inform individuals our variations,” he stated. “Similar to there are different cultural teams from different elements of the world, though now they’re in Canada, they do have their very own id.”
As a father of two Canadian-born kids, Ngai stated he tries to talk to his kids in Cantonese as a lot as potential, and introduced his kids again to Hong Kong a number of occasions.
He added that sharing the historical past, geography and tales of Hong Kong together with his eldest little one additionally enforces his understanding of their tradition.
“We speak about how and why youngsters develop up the way in which they (do) in Hong Kong, how we create our personal areas, and the way our shared expertise makes us who we’re,” stated Ngai.
“It’s laborious for them to know all of the politics and stuff, particularly when they’re youthful,” he stated. “To my son, it’s the Hong Kong Disneyland, buildings and purchasing malls that strike him extra.”
Nevertheless, Ngai stated his son is ready to discover his personal neighborhood of Hong Kong Canadians when he encounters associates with the same background, sharing sure phrases and inside jokes in Cantonese, even calling themselves “the Canto Group.”
Shin stated he thinks totally different generations of those that recognized as Hongkongers would provide other ways to situate themselves in relation to these from mainland China.
“In my opinion, the easiest way to honour Hong Kong is to not protect, however to increase our understanding of it, each in its personal proper as a traditionally constituted house but additionally within the context of the collective human expertise,” stated Shin.
Ricker Choi, though born in Hong Kong, thought-about himself a Canadian as he immigrated to Canada when he was Grade 9. Throughout his 30 years in Canada, he stated he didn’t actually have any attachments to Hong Kong.
He began to regain his long-lost id in June 2019 when he noticed Hongkongers take to the road to protest towards a now-axed extradition invoice within the information.
Choi, who’s a enterprise guide specializing in monetary danger administration, now sells work to lift cash for pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, particularly Hong Kong protesters in search of asylum in Canada.
Choi stated he thinks the resilience in Hongkongers defines the town, including that such “tradition of protests” has been prevalent in post-handover Hong Kong.
“I feel this steady combat is a part of Hong Kong’s tradition,” stated Choi, including that he’ll proudly determine himself as a Hongkonger within the upcoming Census.
Crispin Chow, one other spokesperson for the #IAmHongKonger marketing campaign, stresses that the purpose of the marketing campaign just isn’t just for Hong Kong Canadians to take part within the census, but additionally to offer dependable information so the federal government can higher serve the Hong Kong and Cantonese communities in Canada.
Chow, who was born in Canada however raised in Hong Kong, stated Hong Kong Canadians have been ignored for a very long time. Via this census, he stated he hopes the statistics will present the federal government that this neighborhood exists.
“From there, they are going to be capable of present us with the assets we’d like, comparable to Cantonese-speaking assets or assets written in conventional Chinese language,” stated Chow.
The 2021 census, for instance, gives details about the census in 25 non-official languages, together with conventional Chinese language and simplified Chinese language, in separate paperwork.
“We want these assets as a result of aged in our neighborhood are going through language boundaries, and a few don’t perceive simplified Chinese language or Mandarin,” he stated.
Residents can full the census questionnaire on-line beginning Might 3, whereas this yr’s census day is on Might 11, in accordance with the 2021 census web site.
Heidi Lee is a journalism scholar at Ryerson College and a information editor on the Eyeopener, the varsity’s unbiased scholar newspaper. Her phrases additionally seems in Hong Kong Free Press, an unbiased on-line information outlet in Hong Kong.