Social & Cultural Life: Chinese Public School

Letter in support of creating a Chinese school

Letter written in support of creating a Chinese school

. . . Grandmother took no pleasure in the faan gwai English words, the foreign demon words, though she was clearly jealous of my expert ability to read the complex labels of apple crates and grocery tins. I could even read the Grade 3 Look-and –Learn books like This Is the House that Jack Built. . . But instead of commending me as Stepmother and Father did, the Old One fretted over how her grandson squinted and stumbled over flimsy Chinese textbooks yet somehow could read, even with one eye shut, page after page of rhyming English words; she complained how her no-brain grandson could pivot a pencil into ten English sentences faster than he could daub a brush over just one single Chinese ideogram.”

from All That Matters , p. 70, by Wayson Choy

Despite the challenges of discrimination, locally born young adults of Chinese descent were in many ways assimilated into the dominant discourses of the English Canadian nation state.  In particular, there were a number of Chinese who whose ability to learn English also reflected their relative class privilege.  Many of these mainly second-generation Chinese were graduates of Victoria 's high schools long before high school became universal.  For these young and educated Chinese, of whom many belonged to the social club called the Chinese Canadian Club, they were the first to organize attempts at desegregation of Chinese students in English schools. 

However, regardless of class, Chinese often had access to higher levels of education in Chinese as well, where most had attended after-hours Chinese language schools.  For instance, some locally born child worked as English-to-Chinese translators and journalists for the Chinese Times having had Chinese-language schooling in Victoria.
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