Chow Ping Yip
Country of Origin:
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My name is Chow Ping Yip. I immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong, China in 1990. I have lived in Manitoba, British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Not only have I lived in cities, but also in rural areas. I had a typical immigrant experience, moving from place to place to look for jobs. Now I reside in Halifax and run a shop selling silk fabrics and ethnic products from China and South East Asia. I sincerely hope that this business will help me ground myself in this lovely peaceful city by the Atlantic ocean and build up a sense of belonging.
Why did I immigrate to Canada? It is a question that is always asked by my family members and friends in Hong Kong, China. My life may be better off at home in many aspects but I enjoy being a woman in Canada. When my country is giving away baby girls for adoption, I don’t see my well-being being much improved in China. In 1990, I came here for my university education but was questioned by my father who once asked me, “What do you do in the university? Why do you spend so much time doing research?”
The education and living experience have allowed me to see how women are respected and how they are encouraged to actualize their potential. Personally, I love to experiment life and push myself to take up challenges because I only have one life. In 2004, I took a leap of faith to be my own boss and began an adventure to run a shop on my own. If I was still living at home, I would be discouraged. Well, it is very easy to say that I am independent, but my mind is still locked up in my Chinese culture, not totally free to practice what I believe. My culture has its virtues but poses many limitations on me and causes internal struggle in every decision I make.
Leaving my country for sexism but facing racism in this second home. Some days, I feel very defeated because I never win in any situation. My immigrant female friends comfort me by saying that the difficulties we face will help us have sympathy toward other people and understand fully what the meanings of our lives are. We are lucky because we have a choice – to stay in Canada or to leave. This country has freedom of speech and provides us channels to fight against racism.
Hope makes my immigrant friends and I believe that we can work with people to improve our society and our individual communities. Hope makes me believe that every day I can live truly and honestly; and that I can have peace of mind.
Experiences with Racism:
As an immigrant, as a woman of color, when you ask me about my experience of racial discrimination, it is like asking me how many scars on my soul, on my psyche and how many resources I have lost up to this moment. It is like a flood gate opening. I don't know when to begin telling you my stories of racial discrimination and when to stop. I do not want to make you overwhelmed by my stories but I can tell you that my experience reminds me that this is not my "home." It makes me always uncomfortable to live here.
About 3 years ago, I believe I was wrongfully accused by police and got a very big traffic ticket for something I did not do. In my experience, immigrants or people of color are overly represented in the provincial court for traffic violation. I think there is systemic racism in the court system at the provincial level. An interpreter was not always provided even I requested for it after an appeal at the Supreme Court. No lawyers is provided by the Legal Aid, unless I paid for one. Police, their Crown Attorney and judges were paid for attending the hearing (by tax payers, I am one of them ), but I was not. In the end, I lost the case and did not go for another appeal. I believe I lost it because of racism and because I was deprived of knowledge and resources. I recognize that it was a losing battle that could not be won. I think that if I were White I might have had a chance because the Police did not come to the court hearing.
As a woman of color, at any time, at any place, I believe I am seen and be chosen to be a scapegoat. If not this, then that. I always ask myself, is this the price of living here - for freedom, for better living? Is it worth it?