From the Past into the Future
Builder & Patriots: A Portrait of Chinese Canadians Photo Exhibit
In 2005, The Sien Lok Society of Calgary commemorated Alberta's Centennial by presenting the "Builder's and Patriots: Portraits of Chinese Canadians" photo exhibit. The exhibit comprised of two parts – the first entitled "Reflections: Images of Chinese Women in Canada," curated by the Multicultural History Society of Ontario, and "The Southern Alberta Chinese Photo Exhibit," curated by Sien Lok.
Both of these exhibits documented and celebrated the history of Canada's early Chinese community.
In Search of Gold Mountain Sculpture
The Sien Lok Society of Calgary embarked on the long-term project of preserving Chinatown's only green space as Sien Lok Park in 1982.
Phase one was commemorated by the completion of the monument "In Search of Gold Mountain" by sculptor Chu Honsan in 1991. It is a symbolic representation of the proud history of Chinese settlement in Canada.
Builders & Patriots 2 - A History of Calgary's Chinatown Photo Exhibit
To commemorate the Centennial of Calgary's Chinatown in 2010, The Sien Lok Society of Calgary created a major photo exhibit, entitled Builders and Patriots 2: A History of Calgary's Chinatown Photo Exhibit, also known as BP2. It was a collaborative project between Sien Lok and members of the Calgary community at large, who contributed images and recollections about Chinatown's history. The volunteers on the BP2 Exhibition Committee worked tirelessly for almost 2 years to create an exhibit that comprised 40 panels that displayed over 190 images. It was first unveiled at the Jameson Place Winter Garden on May 6, 2010, and then installed again at the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre in June of 2010, where it remained for the next 4 months. In May of 2011, BP2 was also installed at Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton for Asian Heritage Month.
2019 is The Sien Lok Society of Calgary's 50th Anniversary. To celebrate and commemorate this milestone, the Society is now embarking on an exciting new endeavour, called the Canadian Chinese On-Line History Project, where some of the volunteers from the BP2 Exhibition Committee are working to put the contents from BP2, as well as "The Southern Alberta Chinese Photo Exhibit" portion of the Builders and Patriots: Portraits of Chinese Canadians Photo Exhibit (unveiled in 2005) in a web-page format online.
Translation of the news article about the Sien Lok Park Redevelopment on the Sing Tao Newspaper
The Sien Lok Park is located next to the Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizen Centre. Sien Lok is working closely with the City of Calgary Park Bureau on the redevelopment of the park. A lot of opinions and support were submitted by several Chinese associations.
The Park Bureau made a revision of the park's original blueprint from the opinions collected from the Chinese Street Festival. The 2nd draft is available for display, and a second public consulting activity is in progress.
According to Deron Miller from the Landscape Architects and Planners Company, the new design has a community garden. Any individual or group can apply for the responsibility to look after the garden or it can be maintained by the city. The playground is mixing Canadian Chinese history, culture, education and entertainment in one. Another feature of the park is that there are many children's playgrounds throughout the park.
The gate of the pedestrian walkway over at the Riverfront Avenue would be changed to Chinese style fan-shaped to highlight the characteristics of Chinese culture. Community groups can apply to use the pedestrian walkway during any festival; the gate will be opened when the road is being used as a pedestrian-only walkway.
Dennis Urquhart from the city of Calgary said that Calgary’s downtown is missing a green area for citizens to enjoy their time. As a result, the Park Bureau pays extra attention to the redevelopment of the Sien Lok Park, hoping that the public can get involved in designing a park that everyone can use with a sense of closeness, at the same time attracting tourists from other communities.
Alteration of the park blueprint would be made during the opinion collected during the consulting period. Park blueprints and plans can be found at calgary.ca/parks; the public can submit their opinion before December 8th. The final blueprint would be submitted at the beginning of next year to the City of Calgary for consideration.
Sien Lok Society of Calgary was first founded to preserve Calgary's Chinatown from demolition and/or relocation. The name "Sien Lok" was taken from the proverb "wai sien gee look" (to be charitable gives one of the greatest happiness). It was chosen to proudly display the core values of the Society's members and served as a focus for a Society that embarked on a historic event for all Chinatowns everywhere.
Sien Lok took the initiative to invite Chinese communities, urban experts and representatives of every level of government to convene in Calgary in an attempt to unite Canada's Chinese citizens, for the first time in history, in a concentrated examination of the urban crisis threatening the existence of Chinatowns everywhere.
Under the guise of urban renewal, the City of Calgary originally intended on the construction of a roadway called the "East-West Penetrator" that would have guaranteed the elimination of the existing Chinatown. Sien Lok worked unceasingly to forge virtually all the family associations and political groups in Chinatown into one voice to save their way of life. However, Sien Lok quickly realized that the situation facing Calgary's Chinese community was not unique as all over Canada, in cities like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, Chinatowns were being eliminated by the relentless forces of urban development.
During April 6-9, 1969, Sien Lok hosted the National Conference of Urban Renewal as it affected Chinatown. The delegates, representing over 100,000 Chinese Canadians from all parts of the country, joined with experts in every affected field to probe the history and structure of Chinatowns and to discuss the psychological, sociological and economic factors that govern the degree of Chinese integration and participation in the dominant Caucasian culture. The end results of the groundbreaking conference went far beyond the scope of the original conference objective. Indeed, it has guaranteed that Chinese communities and the Chinese culture would always be a part of the fabric of Canadian life.
Sien Lok succeeded dramatically in its original goal to preserve Calgary's Chinatown, and as a result, Calgary is the only city in Canada with a Chinatown identified in its bylaws. In living up to the legacy of our Chinese forefathers who pioneered Canada, Sien Lok continues to blaze a trail in its endeavours to work within the Calgary community to promote, preserve and honour this rich legacy of sacrifice, hard work, and determination in Chinese Canadian heritage.
Builders & Patriots 2
Sien Lok Society’s Builders & Patriots 2: A History of Calgary’s Chinatown Photo Exhibit has returned home from a month’s showing at the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton. BP2 was showcased in the Pedway Mall from May 1 through May 27, 2011, just in time for Asian Heritage Month. The exhibit was well-received by visitors, and compliments of the exhibit’s professionalism were offered.
We would first like to extend special thanks to Teresa Woo-Paw, MLA Calgary Mackay for making this opportunity possible for the Sien Lok Society of Calgary, and for also profiling BP2 to the Alberta Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, May 10, 2011. Her statement is included at the end of this article. Next, we extend our heartfelt thanks to our past President, Robert Jim, and his brother Rick Jim (of Edmonton) for volunteering their assistance in the travel and installation/dismantling arrangements. As well, we thank Rebecca McCance for the BP2 poster design.
Acknowledgment and thanks also go to Marissa Stepnisky, Marketing Coordinator, Visitor Services for working with us to ensure the overall success of the exhibition at the Alberta Legislature Building. AMJ Campbell was contracted to move and ship our BP2 exhibit to and from Edmonton, and CI Display of Edmonton was contracted to set up and dismantle it at the venue.