Tung Chan

Country of Origin:

China

Themes:

Asian Heritage, Multiculturalism & Diversity

Photos:

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Tung shares two events in this clip, the story of setting up his Toastmaster's Club, and his involvement in politics. This clip is in Cantonese.


Story

Hi, my name is Tung Chan. The two experiences I’d like to relate to you are: one, that I set up a centennial toastmaster’s club. And that happened in 1986. I was working in Chinatown, and I noticed that a lot of Chinese Canadians were actually quite accomplished, and had lots of good ideas to contribute, but when put in front of a group of people, they really cannot make themselves clear to a large group. So, with several friends of mine, we set up the Toastmaster’s club. And we practiced and practiced. And out of that club, actually, have come quite a number of people who enter into the public service arena.

I myself also got into politics because I was asked. Really, I was asked by the then-mayor, Gordon Campbell. At the time, there was a bit of a backlash against new Canadians, particularly those coming from Hong Kong. Before the 1990 election, Gordon Campbell, with help from someone in the community, got a group of Chinese-Canadians together – about twenty or thirty of us – and he came and he said that in his government he would like to have someone to represent that point of view. And not so much as a representative of the community, but rather someone who would be able to put that point of view forward and enter the discussion.

Every one of the people who were at that meeting decided not to step forward. There were people who thought they were too young, or that they were too old. People said that their Chinese was not good enough, and so on and so forth. I, at that meeting, also said well, I was just happy to be a banker. I was a bank manager, managing a branch for the TD bank at the time. And I also said no. But then driving home I said to myself, that’s really crazy. The mayor of the third largest city in the country came and asked if someone would step forward to serve. And if no one stepped forward, all those backlashes against the community – who’s going to defend, who’s going to ameliorate, who’s going to help out. And so, I went home and talked to my wife and gained her support, and also gained my employer’s support, and so I ran. And the rest, as they say, is history.

At that time, there was one Chinese language TV station, two radio stations, and three daily newspapers published in Chinese. So almost every other day, or every single day, I would be in the news, either in print, or in radio, or on TV. And I carried one simple message, this message that I carry up to today, is to encourage people to get involved. People to become part of Canada. Become part of not just part of the economic fabric of the country, but also part of the political fabric of this country. To make the contribution to, if you will, make an impact.

This country is made up of immigrants. This country by and large, if you look at the political system, is a very much a North America, Euro-centric political system, and the values of this country are, by and large, a Euro-centric value system. It is important that people who come from the Asian cultural background… also to voice that, and also make sure that value system – the eastern value system – also able to contribute. Also able to make an impact to the Canadian society so that the Canadian political system and the Canadian culture then becomes a blended culture of not just Euro-centric, not just North American – or only Asian – but rather a blended uniquely Canadian culture.