Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back to the #Chronicle150, where we strive to find 150 Canadian stories to commemorate this nation’s 150th birthday!
The series took a break for a while—you wouldn’t believe how much is going on here behind the scenes—but it’s high time this project got back on track, and I’m doing that with a piece from Nikki Yeh.
Nikki’s a journalist who was a year above me in high school—I remember seeing her name in print early on in publications like The Mississauga News. Nikki’s #Chronicle150 entry touches on a few themes I’ve returned to time and time again while crafting this series: struggling to develop an identity beyond your race. The multigenerational grind to develop a better future for those who follow. And—of course—some of the reasons why we stay in Canada, like the value we place on family life.
Nikki’s answers hold things many of us can relate to—perhaps they’ll give you pause to reflect on your life and what needed to happen to make you who you are today.
Enjoy the read and until the next,
Who are you and what are you all about?
I tell it like it is – many would say I’m honest, humble, a good listener and a huge pop culture fan (Riverdale, anyone?). I wear many hats as a writer, editor, dance and gymnastics instructor, proud wife and Mom. My time’s currently divided between freelance projects, managing my Facebook group Adventures in Baby Savings, playing trucks with my two-year-old son and helping my 6-year-old daughter count nickels and dimes.
What makes you so Canadian?
Here’s something many don’t know about me: I seldom cared about being Canadian until a few years ago. I used to roll my eyes at the thought of Canadian history, deeming July 1st as “Barbeque and Booze Day.” But after digging into the history of both my maternal and paternal families, it’s hard to deny my Canadian roots.
Hailing from rural China, my paternal great-grandfather – my grandmother’s father, Gee Sing – was a Chinese labour worker in the 1880s for the Canadian Pacific Railway, surviving in poor conditions to improve the future of his family. My dad’s father, Tin Yeh, was one of the first group of students from China to study at the University of Toronto after World War II. Then there’s my Mom’s family – the Yuens, consisting of my Mom’s parents, two sisters and herself – as the first Chinese family to reside in Brampton, Ontario, in the ’60s. (They were even interviewed for their local newspaper!)
Sure, I’m physically Chinese. But for me, being born in Canada isn’t what makes me Canadian. It’s how my family made sacrifices and overcame hardships so that their future generations could thrive in this country.