Caution: This blog post may not be suitable for some folks.
To the Malaysian / Singaporean or South East Asian Chinese, I say be prepared, be really prepared. Why? “CHINA” that’s why!.
Having been here (in Halifax, NS particularly) for 3 years, it has only gotten worse. Gone are the days when Malaysian/Singaporean or South East Asian Chinese enjoyed the recognition of being different and coming from a country that is multi-lingual, multi-racial and some might say a mini version of America. Folks over here (the maritimers/ Canadians) and also immigrants from other countries from South Asia (e.g. India) and Middle East, mostly do not know of the existence of our progressive country. And therefore they naturally think that we folks are from China, per say.
Furthermore, having an oriental look doesn’t help either. They almost readily single you out you as a person from China. Don’t get me wrong. Its not that I don’t respect China. Infact, I have great respect for the country and its history. Hell, my roots, dates back to age old China. My forefathers came from Fujian province. Infact a lot of Chinese immigrants that left China before world war 1 were either from Fujian or Guangdong province (although the former was more than the later).
Many came to British controlled states like Malaya or Singapore to find for greener pastures. Others did travel further to the shores of North America (for helping out in building rail tracks). My forefathers from my maternal side came way before that – during the Ming dynasty and traded with local in the then famous Malacca port. They mixed and inter-married with the locals. So, yes, Chinese were keen maritimers themselves just as in other cultures from the west. What is different was that the Chinese were into trade and not did not fixate into expanding their land mass across the seas like the Spaniards, or the French and much later the English.
So, yes, I have a great deal of respect for China and its history because of my roots. But, not China as it is today! Particularly the young (those who are born 1986 or later) who come over to Canada to study due to the following reasons: (1) These are young Chinese who have in their entirely life lived in luxury. They do not know hardship one bit – ergo they come with the knowledge that they deserve better because they should. (2) Generally lack less than stellar mannerism.
Coupled with the fact that sleepy Halifax is quite a (WASPY) place – yes lots of White Anglo Saxon – these 2 combine makes it hard for any other oriental looking folks out there such as myself to assert their cultural difference. We (along with those such as Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, and some lighter skin Thais etc) might find it hard as locals tend to think that we all are from China and thus get treated as folks from there. I sincerely hope that more youths from China could improve their image. The other solution of course is to leave sleepy little Halifax for larger cities where there are significant number of Asians there and thus locals would be open to different types of Chinese.