Yvonne Ng

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Yvonne recalls her journey from Singapore, and how Canada won her over as a place she wanted to stay in.


Yvonne came to Canada from Singapore in 1983. She is a dancer, producer, choreographer, and founder of the Toronto-based dance company, Princess Productions.


My name is Yvonne Ng, and I am from Singapore. I came here in 1983. The reason why I wanted to talk about the journey is because I think that there are a small percentage of immigrants who would probably consider the journey of coming to Canada unlike other immigrants who take the most normal route.

My journey took place in Canada. I didn’t really come with intentions to stay, but pretty much fell in love with the country and was given many opportunities by Canada or Canadians. And that for me was when the journey began – of wanting to plant my roots, so to speak. And that journey also involved my adjustment to life here. I think it’s because I started to find myself through adjusting to life in Canada that I realized that I needed to take this journey and it was an opportunity to stay here.

I guess indirectly Canada was inviting me to stay because I was getting opportunities to work in Canada. But that’s not the normal route of becoming an immigrant, but I was being accepted and I was planting my roots before I was legally able to. I think for me it was a bit of a clash, the way I’ve been brought up. It was more traditional. Even though Singapore is more Western, it’s more conservative and the Asian study has less freedom of expression, depending on which country. But Canada nourishes the person and gives us room to fail without worrying that we have failed. And the failing doesn’t have to be bankruptcy or anything, but just failing and trying in our endeavours – for me particularly in my artistic endeavours – and it really encourages us to take risks. And it allows me as a female to take risks, speak my mind, be creative as I possibly can without having to worry about being censored, or put in jail, or being slapped on the risk, or having my funding cut because I didn’t make work the right way.

Canada I find politically, and I guess also amongst the people, they are interested in who I am as a person, and that encompasses all aspects of me. Besides just being a person, my heritage. And as I began exploring more and more of my own creations I realized that I couldn’t hide who I was, and who I was has to do with all my South-East Asian background or upbringing. And it influences my movements. It influences the way I create work. The way it’s structured and the way it’s designed. People often wonder why I don’t live in Singapore and why I live here, and it’s not because I despise Singapore, and it’s not even a comparison, it’s just because Canada has really given me a voice.