Posted on April 15, 2011

Assimilation Was Never Intended

Ray Lin, Richmond Review, March 26, 2011

In D.M. North’s March 4 letter (“Lessons on integration”), the letter-writer once again brought up the assimilation topic. While the letter-writer did present some valid reasons of why the Chinese in Richmond would not practice English, unfortunately the biggest reason was left out in his article.

The truth may be shocking for some, but I feel a frank but honest discussion is more healthy than being polite but hypocritical: For many of the Chinese in Vancouver, becoming Canadian was never a reason why we moved here, nor do we have the desire to do so. Rather, we see ourselves as Chinese expatriates, living in Canada for a short-term purpose, be it providing our kids to an easier education environment, setting up a business, or even just taking a long vacation.

Much like many Canadians who spend some years living overseas and eventually return to their homeland, a lot of us would just spend several years in Canada and eventually return to Asia. With that mindset in mind, it would be silly to think that many expatriates would actually take the effort and learn a foreign language, in this case English.

Furthermore, many Chinese simply see Canada as a vacation home, allowing them to come for a couple of months every year and enjoy Canada’s great outdoors after a year of hard work in China. Much like many Americans who have a vacation home in Mexico, would anyone actually expect these Americans to take learning Spanish seriously? Rather, the Americans would expect the area where his Mexican vacation home is located to be an English friendly environment, and the same goes for us Chinese expatriates, and this has made Richmond the way it is today, catering to Chinese expatriates like me and many others.

I really do hope the Canadians can come to the realization that we are here not because we wanted to be Canadian, but simply because we like the resource this country provides to us. Much like many of your ancestors who came to this land, not because of they wanted to become natives, but because they desire the resources and opportunities in this land.

So please, my friends, set your expectations right.