We began 2023 with about forty-eight thousand C.I.9s and we end with almost double. The questions that come up for me are: Is this it? Do we have all the C.I.9s now?
When I reflect on this story about George Sing's ten year battle to bring his sons Gee and Get to Saskatchewan set against the backdrop of the Second Sino-Japanese War where twenty million Chinese died, I'm reminded of another sorry tale in Canadian immigration history. A high-level immigration official, when asked how many Jews should be admitted to Canada during the Second World War, said, “None is too many.” This xenophobic quote has been ascribed to Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King and Immigration Director Frederick Blair and is probably neither but shows the attitude at the highest levels of government. Canadian Immigration, helmed by Blair, was deaf to the pleas of Canadians desperate to shelter their relatives living under the threat of war and too many died as a result of his "careful control" of Canada's borders.
I received my first Canadian Chinese Case file this summer. And it's everything I hoped (and feared) it would be. For some time my research into the records of the sixty years of the Chinese Immigration Act (1885-1947) has been hinting at something bigger. And that the currently available bits and pieces refer to an even bigger genealogical treasure in Chinese Case files.
I wrote this post in honour of Chinese New Year and the changing of the years from Tiger to Rabbit. In 2023, I feel we could all use some good fortune. And it doesn't matter if you believe or don't believe in astrology. What matters is if your ancestors believed. Chinese culture has long associations with ideas around luck and prophecy, governing every aspect of life from birth to death. I like to check the signs of the people I'm researching, to get a sense of what they might have thought. The next topic I'd like to tackle is the belief system that added a year to a newborn's age. What was that all about? Until next time!
There has never been a better time to get into Chinese genealogy. More and better records are being digitized, found, and released as privacy laws and resources permit. I'm excited to see what the future holds and I can't wait to teach more people how to find their own families. The fact that I, a non-Chinese speaker, can do what I do is testament to titanic changes in genealogy. As well, the story of Chinese settlement in Canada has all the hallmarks of a great novel: enormous sacrifices against overwhelming odds, generations of time, and oceans of distance. All it needs now is us to find and interpret the hidden stories and tell them to our kids.
After census records and vital statistics (birth, marriage, and death records), church records are some of the most important fonds in a genealogist's toolkit. For the Chinese, however, it was a circuitous path to worship and so it appears relatively few Catholic or Protestant records exist. I am working on understanding better how the Methodist Church ministered to the Chinese populations in Canada. My research shows they established missions for non-white congregants and it was the Vancouver and Victoria mission fonds I wanted to explore.
It's an exciting time to be a Chinese genealogist. In this post I'll share five quick stories about what's new in the run up to Chinese New Year on Tuesday. New edition of Getting Started in Chinese Genealogy New and improved: Tools for PC loversWhat are jiapus and how to find them onlineExpanded section for… Continue reading Past-Presence roundup: what’s new?
It's been two weeks since I released my new e-book Getting started in Chinese genealogy: a family historian's step by step guide (even if you don't speak or read Chinese). In this post I'd like to share some feedback, an awesome video, and give you the chance to win a free copy of your own.… Continue reading My new book: Getting started in Chinese genealogy
Linda tries a few phrases in Chinese, and announces the release of her new book, "Getting started in Chinese genealogy"
In this post, I review the book "In search of your Asian Roots" by SJ Chao and ask: what genealogy problems can this book help solve?