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Celebrating our Asian diversity…

Qiang Sean Wang (Sean) & Yuan yuan Ren (Vanessa), China

Tell us about yourself

My name is Sean and my wife, Vanessa, and I are from Beijing, China. In the past decade or two, Beijing’s air pollution has soared to hazardous levels. For our children’s health and safety, we decided to move to Whistler in 2015. The reason we chose Whistler as our second home is when I studied and worked in Victoria and Vancouver years ago, I frequently visited Whistler and came to know it as a very cosmopolitan village. People from all over the world are here to ski and so on.

We all love skiing and Whistler is also a wonderful place to raise kids.

I (Sean) had been an engineer and taught information engineering for a few years in Canada and Hong Kong before changing my career to investment banking, venture capital and entrepreneur in Hong Kong and China. My wife (Vanessa) was a dance teacher and choreographer in China.

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

We’ve been impressed by the fact that Canadians love outdoor activities and nature so much! We share that passion, and are  doing more outdoor sport than before, such as water surfing, biking, and skiing…We also feel everyone is more appreciative of nature, especially in Whistler.

We realized that, in general, people here are more patient than those in Beijing in terms of the pace of life and work. In Beijing, everything moves at a fast pace: buildings come up pretty quickly, services are express, etc. In Canada, people are more polite, soft-spoken, more willing to spend time in listening to each other.

We miss Chinese food all the time. In Beijing, it is more often than not to eat out than to cook at home. However, we think Whistler is a good change for Vanessa. It forces her to practice how to cook Chinese food. Now, she is a better cook than before! (said Sean…).

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

Language: Mandarin Chinese is not only the world’s most spoken language with over one billion native speakers, it is also the most spoken language in the country with the second-largest economy in the world. We also believe Chinese language reflects Chinese culture and traditions. To understand Mandarin will make it easy to get to know Chinese culture. Various grammars and words reflect the way Chinese people think.

Chinese food: We usually like to share delicacies we cooked with family and friends. Westerners usually enjoy individual servings.

Chinese music: not just the classic Chinese music, we also listen to Chinese pop music. When we listen to Chinese pop songs that we grew up with, they bring back fond memory of our past. We also like poetic words of some Chinese songs. They can create powerful emotions.

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Vanessa and her team showcase “Folk dances of Han Chinese” during the Whistler Multicultural Festival 2018.

Sean and Vanessa children were practice Chinese calligraphy.

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?

We heard one incidence from one of our friends who is originally from Singapore. He has experienced being told “go back to China” as recently as after the mountain had to shut down again due to the COVID case increase.

In our opinion, there is no place for hate crimes in this country. Canada is a country of immigrants; there are over 20% of people who are the first generation immigrants led by Asian. Asians are not just people from China! We are all human beings in this global village and we just look somewhat different. Why would someone hate a person over his/her skin colour or look?

When immigrants move to Canada, they also bring with them their rich heritage, cultural and religious. That has made Canada a multicultural society.

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

Last night I was watching a YouTube video about “Top 10 best countries to live in the world for 2020”. Canada is among them and one of the reasons is “being one of the most peaceful countries in the world”.  So yes, I think to celebrate Asian heritage month, especially this year, is important. It may help to stop the increasing Asian hate crimes.

Cultural exchange can promote a new level of awareness for Canadians who may not yet know about various cultures immigrants bring with them, and lead to an understanding that we are all more similar than different.

We are all learning from history and one day we will all be the history. If we do our small parts in a great way, people in the future will learn from us. If we don’t do anything now, and let the hate crimes to continue, we are not only wasting our spot in the history but also leaving a worse place for our children.

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