Downtown Eastside through the eyes of Chinese residents
By: King-mong Chan
Over the past weeks, I’ve been talking with Chinese people in the community at food line-ups, different organizations, and recently at a community meeting last Thursday (March 7th) where almost 35 people, mostly seniors, gathered inside the Oppenheimer Park House. Most of the people I’ve talked to don’t speak or understand English. The community meeting also revealed that many of them have a low education level; they were not able to read Chinese or even write their own Chinese name. Given this, what are their experiences living in the DTES?
Similar to what was identified in CCAP’s Community Vision for Change, the participants of the community meeting said that the DTES is an important place for them. Some of the main reasons were that “shopping is very convenient” and that “there are a lot of Chinese people” here. Their social life is central to them: many of them talked about how great it was to “socialize” with others and to “take part in social activities” with such as Bingo and Mah-Jong.
Again, it was also echoed in the meeting that there was a need for more “public housing” and the people at the meeting noted that “everything is getting more and more expensive.” However, they also spoke specifically about the discrimination they face. One of them had an experience where she was told to “Go back to China” and “Go to Chinatown” by others. This discrimination was also sadly present in the food lines/services where they see non-Chinese people getting large amounts of food while their portions are much smaller. The language barrier is also very severe as people felt out of the loop with regards to events and programs and that there were only limited places where they could communicate their stories and opinions to other people and be understood.
CCAP will be organizing more such meetings and dialogue so Chinese speaking residents can add their voices and needs to a social justice plan for the future of the whole low-income community. With greater non-Chinese resident understanding of the lived experiences of Chinese people, CCAP hopes we can help them become more accepted as part of the DTES community.
好像卡麗基社區行動計劃的報告：『社區改變的異象』裏所提及到參加會議的人都説市中心東端是一個對他們很重要的地方。 主要原因是因為買東西很方便和因為東端有很多唐人。 相信你們可以看到社交生活是對他們非常重要的。 他們都説他們很高興可以在這裏舆其他人聯誼及參加社交活動， 例如：玩Bingo和打麻將等等。
參加者及其他住在東端的人都同樣説：『東端需要更多公屋。』 我也聽到他們説： 『全部東西都越來越貴。』 還有他們都提及到他們被人歧視的經歴。有一位長者對我分享她有幾次被人叫她回中國或叫她去唐人街！ 很可悲的種族歧視都發生在派發食物服務地點，雖然他們看到非中國人獲得分配到大量的食物，但他們只得到的分量就特别小。他們也説到語言障礙亦是嚴重的問題，例如：他們很多時都很遲才得知有社區活動或有新的服務。他們也覺得没有足夠的地點給他們去和人溝通和發表自己的想法，並很想可以被人了解。