Legacies of Ethnic Dignity

Moy Wong

黃梅初(Moy Wong) 是生於汶萊的第二代華人。汶萊是一個小小而富裕的國家,對公民資格管制嚴格,梅初雖在汶萊出生,也不能成為該國公民;非公民受到諸多限制,諸如做生意要有公民合伙人,不能置個人產業,必須取得更高分數才獲得大學錄取。
Mrs. Moy Wong Tam is a second-generation Chinese-Canadian woman who was born in Brunei, a small rich country located in Southeast Asia. Despite being born in Brunei, she could not receive her citizenship right away due to a list of rules such as requiring sponsorship and partnership agreements with local citizens to start a business and own a home. Other restrictions also included obtaining higher scores on graduation examination for non-citizen students to receive a university education.

Even though the Brunei Chinese people faced many restrictions that could have deterred them from maintaining their cultural identity, the Brunei Chinese remain proud of their Chinese identity in the richness of China’s history and culture when compared to Brunei. Moy’s sense of pride as a Chinese person is inherited from her parents and grandparents. Since Moy was a child, her role models have educated her about her ancestral home. She understood her roots clearly and was proud of most Chinese traditions, except for her grandmother’s Dajin long shirt. Moy remembers her grandmother wearing the same high-collared Dajin long shirt everyday in the hot and humid weather of Brunei. Moy disliked this old-fashioned part of the Chinese look; and yet, she was fascinated by her mother’s cheongsam. Moy showed her pride vividly: “It’s Chinese pride.” Moy lived in Brunei until her teenage years and moved to Malaysia to continue her education.

At the age of 17, Moy and her sister flew to Vancouver to study.

Three years later, she moved to Toronto to study at York University. In time, she obtained her Canadian Citizenship, but the journey of adapting to life in a new place was not easy. When Moy and her sister first came to Canada as visa students, they had no one to rely on, lost their former sense of superiority and with very limited connections, they had to be on their own. Because of this experience, she understood the difficulties that each new immigrant had to face everyday. It sewed a seed in Moy’s heart to help ensure that every newcomer had somewhere to comfortably settle.

大學畢業後,梅初投身服務移民的社會機構,幫助新移民在楓葉國落地生根,後來她更出任加拿大種族關係基金會(Canadian Races Relationship Foundation)首任總裁一職。此外,她亦出任多個服務移民的要職,包括研究、教育、消除種族歧視,和改善移民就業等,由於她卓越的表現,榮獲加拿大立國125年周年紀念勳章。目前梅初擔任華咨處行政總監。回顧自己在服務新移民領域內的工作成就,梅初說這是她的Dream Job 夢想工作,她感到很有意義。
After graduating, she found her first job in a social service organization whose purpose was to help new immigrants everyday. She found the work deeply meaningful and fulfilling. She knew she had found the job that she loved. Over the years, she has continued to actively contribute to various organizations that share the same objectives. She reached her “dream job” as Executive Director of Canadian Races Relationship Foundation. Furthermore, she also has been involved in research, education, racial discrimination and immigrant settlement issues. Due to her outstanding performance, she was awarded the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal. Currently, she serves as the Executive Director of Centre for Immigrant and Community Services.

How did Moy’s experience while growing up impact her achievements today?

Moy gives credit to her grandparents in the first place. “They were very open-minded, and always encouraged us to find the things we liked doing most. They often told us stories of our family history. From time to time, we learnt more about our identity and our roots that helped us to build a strong sense of belonging and grew our confidence in our own ethnicity.” This became Moy’s strength in working with people of different ethnic backgrounds.

What do you find challenging in your work?

Moy believes we can’t find the perfect job in the world but we can find passion in your work. If you truly love your job, you will know how to handle challenges with a positive and motivated attitude. “Canada is not a flawless heaven, but it does give me a lot of good things that I cannot take for granted. Difficult times do occur once in awhile, but it won’t last long. Take it easy, it will pass very soon.”

You received your family traditions in a positive way, how you would like to pass it on to the next generations?

Moy said, “Faith in Christ is the anchor of my life that I’d like to pass on.” Moy was a local born Chinese in Brunei and Malaysia. She works with Chinese people from different parts of China everyday in Canada. But she doesn’t feel like she belongs to any part of China. Identity on earth is no longer important to her. Christianity is the eternal identity that is her anchor of life. She said, “Love of God is not bounded by the four walls in a church building. We should live like Jesus, go to the people and care for the needy.”

Lastly, Moy emphasized, “Everyone has his or her own path and identity on earth; don’t try to kill or hide your ethnic identity. Even though you may have fully adopted western culture, and may know nothing about Chinese traditions and cultures, we are still Chinese in other people’s eyes. Being born into and owning a bi- or multi-cultural identity is an advantage in today’s global village.” Moy added, “To be able to speak different languages helps to contain Alzheimer’s disease too. We should proud of what we have, why throw it away?”

(Translated by Joyce Mak)

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