Youth-Focused Event Celebrates Chinese and Indigenous Heritage
On the long weekend of May 21-23, approximately 60 young people from Edmonton-area Chinese and Indigenous communities gathered to get to know each other better and to jointly address issues that both groups face as marginalized people. The event was organized by the Chinese Benevolent Association Youth Council and the Enoch Youth Advisory Council.
On the Saturday, an outdoor festival included a Round Dance and cultural performances at Kinistinâw Park. Sunday featured conference sessions and interactive theatre with participants at the Edmonton Chinatown Multicultural Centre. Action planning happened at ASSIST Community Services Centre on the Monday. All of the event venues were within Chinatown on Treaty 6 land.
The Sunday agenda included two panel discussions. One featured representatives of the Chinese and Indigenous communities speaking about their cultural similarities and differences, and how they might work together to deal with racism and intergenerational trauma. Legislation against their communities is an example of shared experience. The Indian Act of 1876 aimed to assimilate First Nations people, and the Chinese Immigration Acts of 1885 (the head tax) and 1923 (exclusion policy) tried to keep Chinese people from coming to Canada.
Panelists talked about their communities’ efforts to revive their cultures and language, particularly in the case of Indigenous people. “We are still here,” said Dreydon Thomas, a member of the Enoch Youth Advisory Council.
Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who lives in Boyle Street.