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Celebrating our Asian diversity…

Narintip Thilajai (Pui), Thailand

Tell us about yourself

I am Narintip Thilajai (Pui), from Thailand. I have moved to Canada since 2011 because of marriage. I am a massage therapist back home, now I am working at the spa at Four Seasons Resort, Westin Avello spa and Whistler Day Spa as a massage therapist and Embarc Whistler as a housekeeper.

I have one daughter and one son who come to Canada with me, so I am a busy working mom!

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country?

Growing up in an Asian family, you need to take care of all the family members, not just my parents. In Canada, most of the parents don’t need financial support from their children. Children left their parents’ house after 18years old. When elderly parents can’t care for themselves, they will be move into an aged care center. 

The reason I am still supporting my family back home is because there are no free doctor, no free school in Thailand. The pay in Thailand is not enough to support them to buy textbook, school uniform, bus…

In Thailand, after marriage, husband and wife are doing financial plan together or sharing expenses. In Canada, this doesn’t happen to most of the family. People have their personal finance.

Language, food, traditions, religious, and culture are different depends on which region you are coming from. There are 71 living languages, with the majority of people speaking languages of the Southwestern Tai family, and the national language being Thai. The traditional recipe for a rice dish would include as many as 30 varieties of rice.

Pui was sharing Thai cooking for multicultural community kitchen (virtual workshop) on May 27.

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Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why?

I don’t know many people from Thailand in Whistler, so I don’t do much home culture here. However, if I can, I would celebrate our biggest festival – Songkran (Thai New Year). Thai New Year starts from April 13. We celebrate the Songkran festival by splashing water over other people with a word of blessing.

I am from north of Thailand. 13 April is celebrated with gunfire or firecrackers to repel bad luck. On the next day, people prepare food and useful things to offer to the monks at the temple. People have to go to temple to make merit and bathe Buddha’s statue and after that they pour water on the hands of elders and ask for their blessings.

I am from country side of the north; each house in our community will have a potluck and drinks. We go to different houses, eating their home cooking, drink and celebrate New Year together.

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There has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected you personally?

Before COVID-19 happened, my Filipino friend and I were waiting at the bus stop. Suddenly there was a drunk young man yelled something along the lines of, “I don’t like Filipino, I hate Filipino, why you are here.” We were so shocked that we decided to walk away and don’t want to start a fight.

People might think we are here to take over their job, sending money back home…but we are just here to seeking a better opportunity and life for us and still can support our family back home.

This is just my only hate crime experience for the past 10 years. Otherwise I feel safe in Whistler, because there are so many immigrants, people coming from different countries. Locals are nice to new comers, very friendly, open mind and always willing to help each other.

Why is it important to recognize/celebrate Asian Heritage Month? This year?

Yes, definitely! I think it’s nice if we can do culture share. I like to do Thai cooking culture sharing, I always have my friends over and we share each of our home culture, food share, and cooking together. There are all from different countries. If we do small things in a great way, other people will learn from us.

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