With the federal election set for Monday, two Chinese Canadians from the Lower Mainland say they feel more informed and ready to vote after returning from a self-guided tour of northern British Columbia.
Amy Xu said when the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel ended, her friend Roger Xiao invited her on a group trip to learn more about Canadian history and the importance of reconciliation. .
âAs immigrants we have to try to understand the politics and the cultureâ¦ so we are lucky that we had this trip to learn,â said Xu, “I believe that history is like a mirror or a textbook and that we can learn from it so that we do not fall into the same situation as our ancestors.”
Xu and Xiao, along with a dozen others, have all lived in Vancouver for over a decade, but since they immigrated to Canada as adults, most of them never received a education on Canadian history and the residential school system. .
âThe purpose of this trip was to learn more about the early Chinese workers in the 19th century and to understand the current living conditions of Indigenous peoples in British Columbia,â said Michael Cao.
Bringing “our strengths” to Canada
The group, who are all in their 50s, left Vancouver in late August and made their first stop at Williams Lake, where Cao said he and his wife got a glimpse into the lives of the locals.
He said they enjoyed a dinner filled with locally harvested food like moose meat, blueberries and wild mushrooms with the local mayor, Walt Cobb, and another couple from the community.
âThe community was so kind and welcoming. The couple gave us stones that they picked up and they were so generous,â said Sandy, Michael’s wife.
After Williams Lake, he said they stopped in Prince George and also took a tour around Barkerville, east of Quesnel, to find out how the first Chinese Canadians lived and worked during the gold Rush. Then they met a local Indigenous artist who told them about the totem poles and the different historical events and the people they represent.
âIndigenous and new immigrants to China, we are all part of Canada. We want to be a part of this country, so we have to know the history and then we can bring our strength to this country, âsaid Sandy.
She said after two weeks of touring northern British Columbia, she was more confident participating in conversations about reconciliation and what Canadians can do to help.
“I think we are more open now. We would like to accept the storyâ¦ and carry out the wrongdoing so that we can work to improve it in consultation with indigenous peoples.”
Xiao said he believes Canada should be a nation that connects, supports and respects all ethnic groups.
âThe trip has been very rewarding and much more than I expected,â added Xiao, âNow we see how important politics isâ¦ to making a better Canada and British Columbiaâ
He says he is grateful for the things they learned and experienced during their self-guided tour and looks forward to taking what they learned about Canadian politics and culture and making an informed decision. at the polls on Monday.