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Vancouver has evolved and is still evolving. I feel strongly that I write about my love for this city as I have evolved with it. My grandparents emigrated from China looking for a better future when my father was 16. My Grandfather faced discrimination yet he was ambitious and determined to succeed. He started a shoe repair business in Vancouver. From this he learned how to manufacture boots. M. Lang’s handmade work boots and especially the logging boots were famous for their quality; they were well made and very comfortable to wear but above all guaranteed water proof. The durable and dependable boots were purchased by the loggers who worked up and down the Sunshine Coast. Ultimately his business astuteness and his integrity were recognized. M Lang was invited by Hartt Shoes, makers of the finest dress shoes, to be given a license to sell their shoes. This fantastic opportunity was a wonderful reward – you see hard work pays off. My grandfather had no ESL help, was discriminated against, worked 24/7 hours, never took time off, and seldom spent quality time with the children. Why did he raise his family here? He had the foresight to see a better life for his children. What didn’t he see, open your eyes people – there is so much natural beauty here. How many places in the world can claim that you can ski in the mountains in morning, swim or paddle in the ocean in the afternoon, take a bike ride and then just laze around on the beach or stroll in the park in the evening? All of this can be done in a day. If you are fortunate enough you might see an eagle soaring overhead. It’s always an awesome sight to see such splendor of wildlife in an urban setting.
You can sample the world right here in Vancouver. Just on Pender Street alone you can find a multitude of shops, selling everything you would see if you were in Asia. Pop in and out of the curio, clothes and souvenir shops and when you need substance follow your nose to the exotic odours drifting from the restaurants. The aromas are from barbeque pork pastries, chicken in the meat shops, authentic delicious noodles, dim sum, and other delicacies too numerous to mention.
At age 80, it is great that I can enjoy cultural and neighbourhood celebrations with my family and friends. In my neighbourhood, there is the annual Kitsilano “Greek Days“ street festival where you can share the many contributions of Greek culture. It is kid friendly, has live music throughout the day and troupes representing a variety of Greek dance styles. Vancouver is a mini world mixing a multitude of cultures – the sum of which creates a whole that is greater than its parts and what makes Vancouver so unique. As an artist, I recently enjoyed making community art and meeting neighbours at Central City Foundation’s Fair in the Square. I also enjoyed a live art installation at Lacarno Beach that is part of the ongoing Vancouver Biennale (see photo).
I am a third generation Chinese Canadian. My eight decades in Vancouver have been fulfilling, but not without its challenges. It took determination and tenacity such as the three interviews it took with the Vancouver School Board until I was hired and granted a teaching position. Ironically, I was assigned to teach at Strathcona School where my brothers and sisters and, of course, I graduated from. I was ecstatic to return there to teach and be able to give back to my alma mater.
My children are very fortunate to live here and are appreciative of the safe city in which to raise their children. They have a close community of family and friends that support one another. In fact Fridays are designated “dine at the Wing Compound” day. They live next door to each other and take turns hosting dinner each Friday where friends and family all get together to unwind after the work week. How great is that, to be able to invite friends for an evening of relaxation and comradery.
We have built our lives here starting with my grandfather who came to Vancouver with his humble background and little else. Undeterred, he tenaciously seized the golden opportunities he found in this city. We are all benefitting from our ancestors’ sacrifices and efforts. By no means will I or my children take our lives here in Vancouver for granted. We feel privileged to call this city our home. We have a wonderful city to sustain us and to promote a positive future. Everything and anything is here! Vancouver has given us this wonderful life – is that not reason enough for me to love love love Vancouver!