The Chinese Graduates Association is a networking organization of graduates from post secondary institutions, who share a goal of life long learning, promoting and enhancing the Chinese culture to enrich multiculturalism, and of providing services and support to the Chinese community.
The Chinese Graduates Association of Alberta (CGAA) was officially formed in 1975 by a group of professionals, university, and college students. The CGAA has since played an important role in the development of the Edmonton Chinese community. This includes the founding of the Chinese Community Services Centre (now known as Assist Community Services Centre) in 1978 as well as championing the development of Chinese language immersion education which led to the development of the ECBEA in 1982-1983 and the Edmonton Chinese bilingual program offered within Edmonton Public Schools.
In 2011, a documentary titled “Lost Years: A People’s Struggle for Justice” premiered at the Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival. Produced in collaboration with the CGAA, the documentary centres on the family story of director Kenda Gee and the last 150 years of the Chinese diaspora in Canada, the United States, New Zealand, and Australia. The movie begins documenting the Gee’s ancestors from 1910 China, further progressing through the years and focusing on the racism that they and other Chinese emigrants have experienced. The documentary was made possible with the support of the Canadian Government through the Community Historical Recognition Program and the assistance of the Government of Alberta from the Alberta Multimedia Development Fund.
The CGAA continues to support scholarship opportunities at the University of Alberta (Chinese Graduates Association of Alberta Graduate Scholarship, Chinese Graduates Association Chinese Studies Scholarship Fund), MacEwan University (Kim Hung Memorial Scholarship), and to students enrolled in the Edmonton Chinese Bilingual program with Edmonton Public Schools (CGAA Kim Hung Scholarship Endowment Fund).
cgaa - 1975 to 1982
From our Archives:
Throughout the years, the Association has followed the above guiding principles as reflected in its programs and projects. At times, the Association has been labelled as a social club, and justifiably so. However, when the need arose, the Association has been able to meet the challenges and voice the concerns of the Chinese community. In 1975, the Association prepared ·a brief on the Green Paper on Immigration and Population in response to the many selective immigration policies that were suggested. In 1976, the Association in conjunction with the Chinese Student Association and the Chinese Library presented a position paper on the proposed two-tiered fee structure that would place significant fee increase on the foreign students. Others, such as the Chinese Community Services Centre, Chinese TV programs and the Social Services Directory represented the involvement and contribution of the Association to the community. Over the past few years, through its many accomplishments, the Association has established creditably with the Chinese community and the three levels of government.
At its beginnings, the Association was basically composed of a group of close acquaintances. In the early 1970s the population of the Chinese students attending the University of Alberta was relatively small as compared to the latter years. In 1974, some members of this closely knitted group of mutual friends were about to graduate and to pursue their careers in their own different ways. To further foster the friendship beyond the school days, the group suggested a formation of an association outside the campus circle and hence in September of 1974, Chinese Graduates Association of Alberta was founded by Mathew Lok, Kim Hung, Raymond Pong, Yan Wong, Albert Chan, Wayne Choi and Lawrence Lau.
1975 / 1976
In its first year as an association, CGAA was structured very loosely with Mathew Lok as the president. We have very little record or document about the Association in 1975-/ 1976. However, it does indicate the Association was busy preparing the groundwork for future projects. Under the Multiculturalism program, the Association received a grant of $2,304 to produce a Social Services Directory of Alberta.
In 1975, the federal government tabled a Green Paper on Immigration and Population in the House of Commons. The intent of the Green Paper was to stimulate discussions on current immigration policies to evaluate whether any changes are necessary. In response to the Green Paper, the Association with the support of [a] major Chinese association in Edmonton, organized a panel discussion and forum to solicit opinion from the Chinese community. Subsequently, on the behalf of the Chinese community, the Association submitted a brief to the Honorable Robert K. Andras, Minister of Manpower and Immigration on the concerns of the community about the many discriminatory recommendations suggested in the Green Paper.
1976 / 1977
President: Mathew Lok
Vice-President / Program: Bernadette Law, Raymond Pong, Kim Hung
Membership: Simon Shiu
Publicity & Public Relations: John Mah
General Service: Rebecca Chung
Kim Hung replaced Bernadette Law as Vice-President in September. Bernadette Law moved to Surrey, B.C. the same year. Ivy-Chung was appointed as Treasurer to replace Kim Hung.
The 1976/1977 was undoubtedly a banner year for the Association in the terms of activities and community participation. Members grew from 35 to 70 members, ten were non-local members. It was only in the second formal year that the Association was able to form a stable administrative body to run the organization effectively. The executive community were elected by the members during the annual general meeting to plan, oversee and carry out the programs and activities of the Association. To carry out specific projects and other functions, the Executive Committee also appointed different sub-committees.
The social services Directory Sub-Committee, with Jarley Koo as the coordinator was set up in February to work on the Social Services Directory project. When Jarley Koo left Edmonton in August for Hong Kong, Ng Ching Wo was appointed to head the sub-committee. This project involved over 40 people, both members and non-members. The drafting, editing and translation of the Directory was finally completed and a draft final was submitted to the Secretary of State for approval in 1976.
In May, in response to the proposed two-tiered fee structure for foreign students proposed by the Minister of Advanced Education, the Association set up the Foreign Student Fee Increase Sub-Committee to study the issue and what stand the Association should take. Ng Ching-Wo was appointed as the coordinator. On August 1, 1976, the Association in conjunction with the Chinese Students Association and the Chinese Library Association, both of the University of Alberta presented a jointly researched position paper on foreign student fee increase to the Minister of Advanced Education, Bert Hohol.
A Cultural Exhibition Sub-Committee was formed in May 11, 1976 as a result of the desirability of the Association to sponsor a cultural exhibition in 1977, Bernadette Law was appointed the co-ordinator. As part of the city-wide Chinese New Year Celebration, the Cultural Exhibition was held at the University of Alberta from January 26 to 31 in 1977. Chinese painting, calligraphy and Chinese medicine were exhibited. A booklet titled "An Introduction of Chinese Painting & Calligraphy" and "An Introduction of Chinese Medicine" was also produced and published for distribution at the exhibition. Over 1,500 people attended the exhibition, including the Minister of Culture, Horst Schmidt and the Mayor of Edmonton, Terry Cavanagh.
In a limited capacity, the Association was involved with the Chinese Community T.V. in 1976. Two programs were produced by several members of the Association: "How to File Income Tax Return" by Elizabeth Fung, Albert Man and Henry Kwok, and "Chinese Art Appreciation” by Bernadette Law, Paul Wong and David Lang.
Other sub-committees were also formed during the term to meet specific needs of the Association. Kim Hung was appointed the Co-ordinator of the Social Services Directory Fund Raising Sub-Committee to raise funds to offset the high printing cost. The sub-committee raised over $600. The Programming Sub-Committee was also headed by Kim Hung. Its function was to plan and organize monthly meetings and other activities for members.
Many activities were planned that year. Of interest would be the film shows and talks. The first film show - a documentary on barefoot doctors in China - was presented in March and followed with a talk by Dr. Peter New of University of Toronto. In November, the second film featured a series of film and film strips on the history and problems of Chinese immigrants in Canada. In May; Dr. S. Luk of the University of Dar es Salaam gave a talk on "development and under-development in third-world countries; the case of Tanzania". In October, Mr. Lawrence Lau, a founding member of the Association who returned from his year - long research sojourn in Japan presented slides of Japan and a talk on "Life and Society in Japan".
1977 / 1978
In January of 1977, a new executive committee was elected. They were:
President: Alfred Woo
Vice President / Program Director: Kim Hung
Secretary: Sy San San
Publicity and Public Relation Director: Raymond Pong
General Service Director: Raymond Lau
Membership Director: Paul Kam
Treasurer: Mary Tso
The position of Treasurer underwent two changes during the year: from Mary Tso to Stella Poon to Kathleen Cheung. The Publicity and Public Relations Director changed from Raymond Pong to Cyril Horne.
The new executive began the term with new project proposals. A proposal "History of Chinese in Alberta" was written and submitted to "Young Canada Works" for funding. Another proposal, "Study of Chinatown Relocation" was also suggested.
In February, the executive established the objectives for the 1977/78 year. They were:
Provide services to the Chinese community based on their needs and our capacity.
Establish a positive image of CGAA in the Chinese community.
Increase the level of social consciousness of the members.
To fulfill the above objectives, three standing committees were formed. Under the jurisdiction of Kim Hung, the Program Standing Committee was responsible for execution of programs in accordance with the policy of the executive committee. The Finance Standing Committee headed by Mary Tso was responsible for standardizing proper accounting procedure and search for sources of funding and ensure proper applications were submitted. Raymond Pong was assigned the Publicity and Public Relations of newsletters and promotion of public image of the Association through mass media. Ng Ching-Wo continued to head the Social Services Directory Sub-Committee to ensure its completion.
As part of a long range transportation policy, the City of Edmonton proposed to widen 97th Street as a north-south transportation corridor in 1977. The widening of 97th Street would force the obliteration of Chinatown. The Association in an attempt to provide feedback to the City planners for the future re-development of Chinatown organized a forum. Representatives such as Dave King, Dave O'Neil, Lawrence Decore from the different levels of government were guest panelists in the forum held on May 29 at Alex Taylor Elementary School. The coverage of the event by news media provided excellent exposure of issues raised at the forum. Kim Hung subsequently became involved in the Chinatown Redevelopment Committee.
In 1977, three applications for grants were submitted to the federal government. The first project, "The Chinese Heritage in Alberta" was submitted to Young Canada Works Program. The objectives of the project was to produce a slide/tape documentary of the Chinese presence in Alberta. Although the application was not approved however it reflected the desire of the Association to promote a historical view of contribution by the Chinese to the Canadian mosaic.
The second application under "The Visiting Professors Programme", sponsored by the Secretary of State was also submitted that year. The intent of the Association was to bring prominent speakers to Edmonton to allow access to ideas and knowledge by the members and residents. This application was also aborted at the application stage. Nevertheless, by its own effort, the Association successfully arranged two talks by the professors at the University of Alberta. Dr. G. S. Paul, Professor of Sociology, gave an informal talk on “How not to get lost in the labyrinth of multi-cultural politics" in May. Dr. Brian Evans, Associate Dean of Arts, presented a talk on "The Fall of the Gang of Four" in October.
The third project, "Summer Students Community Projects" was also proposed to the Secretary of State. This time, the project was approved. Three full-time and one part-time students were employed to carry out the project at 9755 Jasper Avenue. The aim of the project was to assist local residents to ascertain the available social services to them in Edmonton. Students conducted city wide surveys through home visits and phone calls to gather data in evaluating the need of social services within the Chinese community. The data was tabulated and summarized in 1978 by Raymond Pong. Other members of the Association - Kim Hung, Paul Kam and Alfred Woo - also spent tremendous effort and energy to ensure the success of this project. Also as part of the project, a drop-in centre with library and referral services were established. Chinese Library Association assisted the library service with provision of some books. Programs for senior citizens were also planned and implemented. The project funding ended after the summer months. However, volunteers continued to operate the center on a part · time basis under limited fundings from donations by Chinese business through canvassing. This project is the forerunner of the present day "Chinese Community Services Centre", now a recognized institution in Edmonton.
An interesting event also occurred in that year. Past and present members of the Association had a successful reunion in Hong Kong during the Chinese New Year. Jarley and Carol Koo, formerly involved in the Social Services Directory Sub-Committee returned to Hong Kong to work at the Sun-Wah Hospital in 1976. They briefly were reunited with Elizabeth Fung, Alan Chan, Mark Chan, Albert Man and Agnes Yeung. Mark Chan later returned to Edmonton from Hong Kong, but moved to Vancouver to work shortly after. Ng Ching-Wo also left Edmonton that year to work in Calgary. Happy to say, both members returned to Edmonton in later years to rejoin the Association.
In December of 1977, the Social Services Directory was finally published and distributed to various agencies. Its bilingual (Chinese-English) format and free distribution saw high demand and copies were soon gone.
On May 1, twenty members and friends of the Association participated in Miles for Millions. The group started from the Legislative ground at 9 o'clock in the morning and by 10 o'clock, the group reached the first checkpoint at Borden Park. The group arrived at Checkpoint number 2, Londonderry Shopping Centre and seven of the participants have had enough and no longer wish to continue. At Checkpoint number 3 (about 10 miles), except for three members, all the others were too tired to continue. Stephen Yuen, John Lam and Eva Cheng walked the whole 25 miles to complete the trip. This group of good samaritans raised about $1,000. for the underprivileged children.
1978 / 1979
President: Michael Lee
Vice-President / Program Director: Kim Hung
Secretary: Ellen Ho
Treasurer: Edward Tong
Membership Director: Paul Kam
Publicity & Public Relation Director: Cyril Horne
General Service Director: Simon Shiu
Brian Wong became the General Service Director in July to replace Simon Shiu who returned to Hong Kong.
The 1978 / 1979 executive committee was elected on January 29, 1978. The Association started the year by involving in China Week during the Chinese New Year. The China Week Committee, at the initiation of the Association, was formed at the beginning of the year. The committee consisted of CGAA, Chinese Student Association, Chinese Library and Alberta Chinese Cultural Society. The Association sponsored two public lectures for China Week. The first lecture "Acupuncture Anesthesia in China" was presented by Dr. John Mcintyre, Professor with the Department of Anesthesia, University of Alberta. A film "Acupuncture Anesthesia" followed after Dr. McIntyre's lecture. The second lecture, “Minority Nationalities in Southwest China" was given by Professor P. C. Hsieh, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Regina. The talk was also followed by a film, “The Wheels A-Rolling”. Over 250 guests attended the two public lectures.
The Association continued its interaction with other groups and associations based at the university. In March, the Association hosted a tea-party. Chinese Student Association, Chinese Folk Singing Group, Chinese Library and Chinese Drama Club were invited and participated in the function.
During the year, the Association was unsuccessful again in attempt to obtain funding for the two proposed projects. "Chinese as a part of Alberta's Heritage" application was submitted to "Young Canada Works". The second project, "Chinatown Community Service Centre" was applied to the Secretary of State Student Community Service. The intent of the project was to hire three students to do research work about the Chinese community and to provide other direct services such as referrals, interpretation and other assistances.
In 1977, the Association also submitted an application to Revenue Canada to register as a charitable organization. In 1978, the Association received notice that its application had been rejected.
In March, the Association agreed to participate in the Heritage Days Festival in a joint venture with the Edmonton Federation of Chinese Associations. In the summer of 1978, the Association organized a welcoming dinner at Chateau Lacombe for the Hong Kong Cultural and Athletic teams for the XI Commonwealth game. During the term, Kim Hung continued to co-ordinate the Chinese Community Services Centre.
1979 / 1980
President: Dr. Michael Lee
Vice-President/Program Director: Dr. Bernard Wong
Secretary: Stephen Yuen
Treasurer: Elmer Ng
Membership Director: Roger Miller
Publicity & Public Relation Director: Cyril Horne
General Service Director: Paul Kam
Paul Kam and Roger Miller exchanged positions in June.
The Association obtained a grant of $4,000 that year from the Secretary of State to update the Social Services Directory. Swee Sim Tan was appointed the coordinator. Also, the Association organized a sub-committee on Chinese Community T.V. programs on Cable 10. Stephen Yuen was appointed the coordinator. Eventually, Chinese Horizon, a thirteen half-hour series were produced. The first episode was aired on February 3, 1980.
Prior to the federal election, in an attempt to raise the political conscience of the Chinese community and other ethnic minorities, the Association formed the "Ad-Hoc Committee on Federal Election (1979)". Questionnaires covering immigration policies, multiculturalism and advanced education were hand-delivered to 17 candidates in the Edmonton ridings. Responses by the candidates were compiled into a booklet - "1979 Federal Election Survey" - and distributed to voters for their references.
1980 / 1981
President: Kim Hung
Vice-President / Program Director: Eric Tong
Secretary: Linda Cheu
Treasurer: Eddie Chung
Membership Director: Tony Chow
Publicity & Public Relation Director: Stephen Yuen
General Service Director: Cyril Horne
Each year in April since 1975, the Association has organized a Wine and Cheese party for the new graduates. The purpose of the party is to introduce our Association to new graduates and to recruit them at the same time. However, possibly due to time conflict with final examinations and their own graduation parties, the Wine and Cheese parties have been unsuccessful in terms of attracting new members among new graduates.
In 1980, the Wine and Cheese party was renamed Career Information-Wine and Cheese Party. Even then, response was extremely low. The day before the party, Tony Chow and a volunteer used a telephone blitz to encourage new graduates to attend the party which proved to be quite successful. Over 80 members and new graduates attended the function.
In April, the Association organized a tax clinic for low income individuals at the· Chinese Community Services Centre. Many members participated and offered their services in filing income tax returns for individuals whose family income was less than $ 12,000 during the taxation year. Over 60 families were assisted by the tax clinic.
The second edition of the Social Services Directory of Alberta was completed and published in 1980. Copies were mailed to libraries and other agencies across Canada for information referral purposes. With the massive influx of lndo-Chinese refugees that year, the directory was particularly helpful to many agencies.
To broaden its community outreach, the Association became a member of the Chinese Benevolent Association which represents all Chinese organizations in Edmonton. Tony Chow was appointed as the representative of the Association to participate in the meetings and to report back to the executive committee.
The CGAA T.V. group continued its "Chinese Horizon" programs on cable T.V. Another series of thirteen episodes were produced and aired regularly on Sunday evenings.
In October of 1980, the first annual CGAA Sports Day was organized. Different groups and individuals participated in table tennis, badminton and volleyball. Over 90 people entered the three events and later enjoyed the evening trophy presentation banquet at the Good Fortune Restaurant. The Association also arranged weekly badminton hours at the Commonwealth Stadium gymnasium for the members.
Many ethnic minority groups such as French, German, and Ukrainian have successfully established an immersion program for their young children. The program enables their children to study not only in English but also in language of their own cultural background. With the same intent basically, the Association approached the provincial government in regard to a formation of an immersion program for the Chinese minority group. The Association contacted various levels of government, school boards and the above minority groups in preparation of the groundwork to organize the program. Information was compiled, printed and presented to the community at information meetings and other functions. Consequently, an "Ad-Hoc Committee" for Chinese School was organized and headed by various concerned parents and individuals within the Chinese community.
1981 / 1982
President: Stephen Yuen
Vice-President/Program: Director Kim Hung
Treasurer: Mei Tan
Membership Director: Michael Tan
Secretary: Cyril Horne
Public Relations & Publicity Director: Allan Kwan
General Service Director: Herbert Chui
The new executive committee was elected on February 18, 1981. As its first function, the Association repeated the Wine and Cheese, Career Information party for the new graduates. A telephone blitz was again used to encourage new graduates to participate in the event. On April 4, at the Chinese Elders Mansion, over 80 members and guests attended the function.
To continue its plan for the Chinese immersion program, the Association invited various community members and delegates to an organization meeting in March. As a result, an Ad Hoc Committee for the Chinese Education project was formed to pursue the goal of establishing a Chinese education program within the public school system. To assist the Ad Hoc Committee, the Association provided a grant of $300 for operating funds. Many members of the Association were involved in the various sub-committees of the Ad Hoc Committee. Eventually, after many hours of preparation work, a Chinese school for kindergarten children became a reality in the fall of 1982.
The Association again organized a tax clinic for low income families in April at the Chinese Community Services Centre. Members Mark Chan, Michael Cheung, Tony Chow, Teresa Chung, Grace Fok, Rick Khaw, Maisie Lee, Darnen Ng and Mei Tan participated in this annual activity.
In August, the Association organized the Chinese Pavilion to represent the Chinese community in the annual Heritage Day Festival held at Hawrelak Park. It was a community affair as many community groups participated in the event. Mr. Frank Lee's Martial Arts Studio performed the Lion dance and martial art demonstrations. The Tai Chi Club also demonstrated Tai Chi exercise and forms. The Edmonton Chinese Folk Dancers performed the colourful folk dances to the appreciation of the spectators. Mrs. Susan Toy, a weekly columnist with the Edmonton Journal, assisted the Association with food preparations, along with the senior citizens of the Chinese Elders Mansion.
As a member of the Chinese Benevolent Association, the executive of the Association attended a fundraising banquet in August for a Chinese Garden next to the Chinese Elders Mansion in Chinatown. As a gesture of good will, the Association donated $300 to the building fund.
In October, the Association held the second annual CGAA Sports Day at the Commonwealth Stadium gymnasium. Seven different volleyball teams from within the Chinese community participated in that event with other entries in the badminton and table tennis events. A wine and cheese party was held at the Chinese Elders Mansion for trophy presentation to the winners and the members.
The CGAA T.V. group continued its production of the "Chinese Horizon" program on cable channel. The group produced another series and aired weekly in the fall and winter session. The group also sponsored a talent contest in November for young people between the age of 4 and 17 years old.
In November 11, CBC aired a documentary film, "The Golden Mountain" on the history of the Chinese Canadian. The Association contacted Ms. Nancy Ing of CBC Toronto to arrange for a lecture presentation in Edmonton. Ms. Ing researched extensively for the material included in the film. However, due to heavy workload, Ms. Ing was unable to fulfill the invitation.
The Chinese Community Services Centre, a division of the Association organized a fundraising banquet of its own in December. In 1981, severe flood and drought impacted northern China in different areas. Their request for assistance from International Red Cross for the first time in history sparked tremendous responses across Canada. The Centre was able to raise $2,000 from the banquet and presented the fund to Mrs. Gene Hadley, President of the Alberta Chapter of Red Cross. The Association later on also participated in the "Chinese New Year Carnival" at Victoria Composite High School organized by the committee for China Natural Disaster Relief Fund to raise funds.
A Chinese New Year banquet was organized by the Association in January of 1982 at Convention Inn South Hotel. The function was attended by Mayor Cec Purves, Alderman Bette Hewes; Mr. Dave King, Minister of Education; and Mr. David Kilgour, Member of Parliament. Mr. Henry Woo, MLA representing Sherwood Park was the Master of ceremony for the evening. During the banquet, Stephen Yuen, on behalf of the Association, presented a cheque of $500 to Dr. Evans of the newly established department of East Asian study at the University of Alberta. Mr. Dave King, Minister of Education, pledged at the same time that the provincial government will provide a matching grant of $500. Stephen Yuen also presented a cheque to Mr. Herbert Hsu of China Natural Disaster Relief Fund for operating expenses.
In this article, I attempted to present a chronological picture of the association from its inception in 1975 to 1982. It is a tale of many successes and failures. In writing this article, I read through the available newsletters, minutes, grant applications and correspondences from the former years. I admired the dedication of the executive and the loyalty of the members in their efforts to promote the image and culture of the Chinese community and to develop programs to enrich and to assist the Chinese community. From some of the minutes, I detected some degree of frustration experienced by the executive in their attempt to achieve a higher goal. To a certain extent, they were really plagued by their own rising expectations without realizing and recognizing their contribution to the many accomplishments of the Association. In retrospect, they were all good years.
Undoubtedly, in this article, some personalities, events or highlights of the Association were not recorded or documented. It is my sincere wish that the Association will organize a reunion during the tenth anniversary of the Association in 1985. Then, former and present members will have a chance to share their recollections.