Literature and Film

This section unravels the oppression of Chinese-Indigenous identities in Canadian history. Through literature and film, we can understand the misfortune and distress experienced by Canadian-Indigenous individuals through historical accounts of racism, stories of lost heritage, and identity. The literary works and films presented in this section encourage us to acknowledge the cultural segregation experienced by Chinese and Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Disappearing Moon Cafe (2006)- Sky Lee

This novel portrays the life of a Chinese Canadian family in 19th century British Columbia, late 20th century Hong Kong, and Vancouver’s Chinatown. The plot follows the intricate and emotional story of four generations of women whose lives are affected by racialization and discrimination for first generation Canadian immigrantss, as well as family history and secrets. Chinese-Indigenous relations are explored by the melancholic mourning of the elderly family patriarch, Gwei Chang, who reminisces about the love of his life, Kelora, and Indigenous woman and how colonial shame an classist denigration affected their relationship.

Chinese and English Versions of Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Cafe.

“Yin Chin” (1990)–Lee Maracle

Yin Chin highlights issues of racism and stereotyping through the perspective of the oppression of Chinese and First Nations in Vancouver, Canada. Specifically looking at the prejudice that was formed towards the Chinese and First Nations individuals. The short story brings awareness to the subject of racism, where it is noted that any culture can form racist behaviours and cultural stereotypes toward other cultural groups. The short story encourages us to consider how one’s lack of education can lead to negative stereotyping, therefore encouraging us to bring more awareness to this issue. Writing special issue of Canadian Literature.

Lillian Dyck – Not Just Chinese

Canadian senator Lillian Dyck re-encounters the stories of her family,  looking at her upbringing as a Chinese-Indigenous woman in Canada. Dyck expresses the issue of racism in which she talks about her personal suppression of her indigenous identity. She discusses her life in terms of her Chinese-Indigenous identity and how she came to terms with acknowledging her Indigenous heritage. She talks about the history that is being unveiled looking at the contributions that Chinese-First Nations have made. 

Café Daughter

This video is Scene from Café Daughter at Backstage Theatre.Café Daughter introduces the story of Yvette Wong, a nine year old girl of Chinese and Indigenous descent. The play follows her life in a small town in Saskatchewan during the 1950s where she faces racial discrimination as a result of her Indigenous and Chinese heritage. The play’s script is based off of the life and history of the Cree Senator Lillian Dyck, and is a one woman show that features Inuit actor Tiffany Ayalik who portrays a total of thirteen characters within the play. 

Cedar and Bamboo (2008)-Diana Leung and Kamala Todd

Cedar and Bamboo is a beautifully crafted documentary that highlights the unique relationships between Chinese immigrants and First nations peoples in the West coast of early Canada. It aims to acknowledge some of the experiences of mixed heritage (Chinese and Indigenous) descendants, by recounting the stories of four individuals and their difficult circumstances as they navigate(d) Canadian society in which both of their identities are considered “other”.

Larry Grant

Larry Grant is a Chinese-Indigenous individual from the Musqueam indigenous territory. This video series outlines the struggles of growing up as a Chinese-Indigenous individual in Canada. The first video Not Belonging encounters Larry’s struggles with the oppressive rules and regulations implemented by the Canadian government. Larry had experienced a loss of identity and place of belonging regarding his heritage. The second video in the series Larry Grant: Intertwining Cultures, examines the similarities of the Chinese and Musqueam Indigenous cultures. The third video Childhood Fears of Going To China (Larry and Howard Grant), talks about how the Grant family feared the reconnection with their Chinese heritage, but eventually visited their fathers village in China reuniting their lost identity.

All Our Father’s Relations(2016) Alejandro Yoshizawa

All Our Father’s Relations follows the story of the Grant family on a journey to China from Vancouver to better understand their fathers Chinese heritage. The Grant siblings had been primarily raised in Musqueam where they practiced their mothers Musqueam Indigenous traditions. This documentary rediscovers the historical relations of the Chinese and Indigenous peoples in Canada, outlining issues of discriminatory laws and loss of identity as a result of growing up with Chinese-Indigenous heritage.

Masterclass 2017: Alejandro Yoshizawa – All Our Father’s Relations

This video follows the journey of the filmmaker Alejandro Yoshizawa the director of All Our Father’s Relations. Yoshizawa outlines the film-making process,  highlighting how he had to use the narrative of memory in order to reflect the story of the Grant family. He hopes the film All Our Fathers Relations can initiate discussion and open questions about the forgotten histories of Canada.

Elder in the Making

Elder in the Making follows Chinese Canadian Chris Hsiung and Blackfoot aboriginal Cowboy X on a trip to the traditional Blackfoot territory, where they discuss the shared culture and home of the Chinese and Indigenous people. This documentary re-discovers the indigenous traditions that have been oppressed in Canada’s history, highlighting the stereotypes and racism faced by Indigenous groups. We are encouraged to participate in the lost history through the revival of culture and traditions.

A Tribe of One

This documentary follows Rhonda Larrabee on a quest to re-discover her Chinese- Indigenous heritage. Through a series of photographs and interviews, the documentary highlights how racism faced by Indigenous individuals compelled her mother to suppress her Indigenous heritage. Larrabee wishes that others can be educated about the lost Indigenous identity and culture, in hopes of preserving the Indigenous heritage that her mother was forced to hide.