Andre Goh

Country of Origin:

Malaysia

Themes:

Citizenship, Immigration, Asian Heritage, Racism/Discrimination, Human Rights & Social Justice, Identity & Heritage, Multiculturalism & Diversity, Adjusting to Life in Canada

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Andre describes about how even though he still feels connected to Malaysia, he is now an outsider after living in Canada for so long. He describes the traditions of his youth that he has continued in Canada.

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Bio

Andre Goh works as the Manager for the Toronto Police Service’s Diversity and Inclusion Office in Toronto.

In 2010, Andre was awarded the City of Toronto’s Access, Equity and Human Rights Award for his work with LGBT East and South East Asian newcomers.

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Andre Goh exerce les fonctions de directeur du bureau de la diversité et de l'inclusion du service de police de Toronto.

En 2010, M. Goh a reçu le Prix de l'accès, de l'équité et des droits de la personne de la Ville de Toronto pour son intervention auprès des nouveaux arrivants LGBT de l'Asie de l'Est et du Sud Est.

Story

My name’s Andre Goh. I was born in Malaka in Malaysia. When I left Malaysia… Most of it is gone. In many ways, it’s now a thriving and booming country. All those things familiar like the places I used to go to, the people I knew, most of them are gone or have moved on. In many ways, whenever I am back in Malaysia I feel like a foreigner more than a local. And even locals can always identify, and many would say to me, “So, when did you come back?” Or, “How long are you here? Where have you been?” Mostly they ask in Malay – especially if I speak Malay, because apparently now when I speak Malay I have an accent.

Some of the things when I think about Malaysia are, or that I continue in celebrating those things that are important to me about Malaysia, are customs that I was brought up with or traditions. For example, Chinese New Year. I still do things like you can’t sweep anything in the house, no cleaning, eating certain foods, wearing certain colours and doing prayers and honouring ancestors. The thing I like most doing is celebrating with friends and family to bring in the New Year. I started a tradition many years ago here, because of adopted family or chosen family here. We go to a Chinese restaurant, because I can’t be bothered with all the cooking and the dishes. It started out with maybe about ten of us, and over the years it has grown. Last year when we had our celebration we actually had about thirty-five tables, and I thought it’s becoming an event and it’s too big for me now, and I think it’s losing what it was originally when there were just ten or twenty people.

I guess home to me now, whenever I think of home, this is my home. Canada is my home. Two years I ago I came back to Canada from Australia – I had lived there for seven years, partly went there for family and partly for other reasons – and interestingly, while I was in Australia I did take up Australian citizenship, but never really called myself Australian. If anybody asked, I always said, “Canadian.” I’ve always found it interesting, because I never really said Malaysian, although when people say, “Where were you born?” I say Malaysian, but otherwise no. I’ve never really thought of myself anything other than Canadian, and in many ways I’ve learned over the years having lived in other places in the world, the grass is greener over here. It’s funny – you have to go away to appreciate what you have, and then you realize, yeah, things are good here.

In the work in human rights and equity work, what I learned is that when I left here I was perhaps a little disenfranchised and disappointed in terms of the areas of problems and systemic issues surrounding racial minorities, and other groups that were not part of the majority, or certainly at a disadvantage. Having lived somewhere else, and going back to Malaysia, I realized things are better here. And sometimes people forget that.