Certain ethnic groups with some Chinese background claim that Chinatown is part of their cultural identity, believing that the features of Chinatown – from the bright neon signs on the BBQ restaurants to the vast selections in the jewellery stores -- highlight their hometown culture and can bring them a flood of nostalgic memories.
But Chinatown has never been my cup of tea nor has it ever brought any sense of belongings to me. It has only represented poverty, exploitation, and discrimination for my generation of immigrants. Thirty years ago, when I settled down in a Chinatown apartment as a newcomer, the cultural enclave was dominated by immigrants from Hong Kong. Many newcomers from China were in poverty at the time, being fraught with experience of discrimination. Speaking little Cantonese, they were looked down upon by their Hong Kongese counterpart and considered inferior.
Many of us experienced the distain looks by Chinatown employers as we were desperately seeking cheap labour jobs to make ends meet. Those who were lucky enough to be hired were often at the receiving end of wrongful blames for varies kinds of misconducts – from causing mishaps to store patrons to stealing money and materials from their employer.
Undoubtedly，Chinatown never held any appeal to those who were well educated and desired to be successful but only served as their launch pad. Many of us were determined to break out from the Chinatown enclaves to chase Canadian dreams. They sought college education, improved English skills.
Decades later, their assimilation efforts have borne fruits. After leaving the stench filled Chinatown, they gained marketable skills and broke into Canada’s corporate world. Embracing job opportunities across all of the employment spectrum in Canada, they become property owners and begin making decent salaries, and their financial status has dramatically improved.
According to StatsCan, despite early struggles on their immigrant journey, newcomers make the same level of income as local Canadians after a decade of living in Canada. The first generation of Chinese Canadians also represent a high proportion of those with degrees in highly technical fields. In 2001, people of Chinese origin made up 6% of all university graduates in Canada, representing 12% of those with degrees in mathematics, physics, or computer science, and 11% of those in engineering or applied science. People of Chinese origin also represent a relatively high proportion of those employed in business, financial and administrative positions, as well as in manufacturing.
StatsCan data also indicates that a vast majority of immigrants from China can converse in one of Canada 's official languages. In 2001, 85% could carry on a conversation in at least one official languages, with 78%, could speak English, and 6% could carry on a conversation in both English and French.
If leaving Chinatown marked my first step taken to improve my social and economic wellbeing, Chinatown is not a place that I would miss or want to return in the near future. Amid the overflowing juices from garbage bins as well as buzzing noises disrupt our preferred peace, skilled immigrants continued their mass exodus from Chinatown, fueling its struggles to maintain its population and to sustain the isolated enclaves.
尽管温哥华唐人街近期说服了市政府，得以让公寓开发商暂时远离Keefer Street，但唐人街在当代移民的心中早已没有了立足之地。可以预言，在今后的数代人中， 都不会几个人知道所谓的唐人街。
Vancouver Chinatown can win the recent battle at city hall to keep the condo developers out of Keefer Street – for the time being, but Chinatown can’t earn a place in the heart of the modern era of immigrants. As a matter of fact, the next few generations may not even give a damn about its existence.
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