A LOOK AT THE CHINESE COMMUNITY SERVICES CENTRE
From our archives:
In the early sixties, the relaxation of immigration policy by the federal government allowed many residents to sponsor their immediate family members or relatives to immigrate to Canada for reunion.
It was during this period that the Chinese population in Edmonton began to increase drastically. For the newcomers who lacked the knowledge of English, they must depend on friends and relatives in search of jobs, housing, and other chores. For the independent newcomers, without friends and relatives in Edmonton, language became a major problem in their daily life. Nowadays, the newcomers who lack the language skill could have the assistance of the "Chinese Community Services Centre" to guide them through the initial cultural shock.
The Centre is located in Chinatown at No. 11, 9656 • Jasper Avenue. For the past few years, the Centre has developed and implemented many programs to meet the specific needs of the newcomers and residents. The most popular programs now are the English as a Second Language courses and the Citizenship class which have expanded to a total of seven classes with one hundred and twenty-seven students last fall. In term of direct services, the Centre has provided employment referrals, housing referrals, interpretation and escort services, translation and completion of document, legal services and other referrals. Each year, with the help of many volunteers, the Centre has also sponsored a tax clinic for low income families.
Last year (1982) the Centre also sponsored a law and order seminar in the face of the increasing crime related cases handled by the Centre. In the past, seminars on family planning, nutrition, insurance were also organized in an attempt to bring certain awareness to the residents. In term of special projects, the Centre was also involved in data collection for the Chinese Senior Citizen Housing Complex and the Cultural centre in 1982. The purpose of the above project was to determine the necessity of planning another senior citizen housing complex in addition to the present Chinese Elders Mansion which has a very long waiting list. The Chinese Benevolent Association used this data in its proposal submitted to Alberta Housing and Public Works to justify the need for an additional complex. The Centre is presently involved in coordination of volunteers to assist in the World University Games this year (1983) in Edmonton
The Centre has come a long way from its beginning in 1977. In that year, using a Summer Student Community Project Grant from the Secretary of State, the Chinese Graduates Association of Alberta initiated the "Need of Social Services in the Chinese Community" project. Three full-time and one part-time students were employed to determine needs of social services available to the Chinese population in Edmonton. Members of the Association also volunteered their time and effort to co-ordinate and supervise the project.
The project officially ended after the summer months. Because of the demand for its services, the Centre continued to operate through the effort of the volunteers on a part-time basis. Funding was solicited from the local businessmen to pay for the operating expenses such as rent and utilities. In 1978, the Association applied unsuccessfully for funding for another summer project from the Secretary of State. If successful, the funding would have allowed the Centre to develop and expand its minimal programs and services. The 1978 and 1979 years were hard times.
In 1979, the mass influx of Indo-Chinese refugees into Edmonton posed tremendous difficulty to all agencies including Employment and Immigration Canada. The refugees were mostly ethnic Chinese who spoke neither English nor French. By default, the Centre was required to provide a resettlement services to the Cantonese speaking refugees through its limited resources. Clothing depot was set up by the Centre to provide free clothing to refugees. Volunteers located housing and employment, arranged English classes and made medical referrals to assist the refugees.
In January of 1980, the Centre received a $15,000 (fifteen thousand dollar) grant from the City of Edmonton to carry out the proposed resettlement programs. A full time staff was employed by the Centre to manage the program. For the past three years, the City of Edmonton continued to provide financial support to the Centre. In 1981, the federal government also provided funding to the Centre to hire an additional worker to carry out the expanded programs and services.
Throughout the years, many members of the Association have contributed their talent and time to promote the growth of the Centre and to serve the need of the Chinese Community. Among them recognition must be given to Kim Hung. Kim Hung has been the coordinator of the Centre since 1977. His dedication to the Chinese Community is not only recognized by the Association, but also by the residents and the different levels of government.
Other members such as Raymond Pong, Ng Ching-Wo, Alfred Woo, Paul Kamr Tony Chow, Herbert Chiu, Mei Tan, Games Choi, Teresa Chung, Elmer Ng, Michael Cheung, Allan Kwan and other members and volunteers have also been an integral part of the Centre either as a member of the management group or through other capacities.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE CHINESE LANGUAGE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM IN EDMONTON
From our archives:
The date of the February 8, 1983 would be referred to by ethnic Chinese Edmontonians as one of the very most important days. It was on this date that Trustees of the Edmonton Public School Board approved the proposal from its Administration and the Edmonton Chinese Kindergarten Association (ECKA) for a new language program.
The recommendation from the Administration was that: "The attached proposal for an English-Chinese Bilingual program be accepted." The decision was made by a vote of 6 to 1 in favour of approval.
The proposal concluded in its very last sentence that: "The evidence suggests that ethnic linguistic minority children in particular experience a heightened sense of self worth through participation in a bilingual program."
II. The Early Component of Chinese Graduate Student Association in the Chinese Language Project
To Chinese Canadians, education in Chinese is always a subject close to our heart. There were various forms and types of Chinese language education in Edmonton over the years, however, it was in February 1981, the C.G.A.A. sent a letter of invitation to Chinese communities about "The Chinese Language Education Project" to solicit support and encouragement. The project has: "The main objective of the proposed program is to maintain the Chinese language as well as to preserve the culture for future generations."
At 7:00 P.M., February 22, 1981, a working meeting was held at the Chinese Benevolent Association with the C.G.S. education task team of Stephen Yuen, Mei Tan·, Wei-Ching Chang, Maylee Mah, Ken Kwan, Michael Cheng, Linda Cheu, and Kim Hung. Caroline and Charles Pei from Edmonton Chinese School Society had heard about the meeting and attended. The purpose of the meeting was to organize the first Ad Hoc Committee meeting to be held on March 8, 1981.
III. The Ad Hoc Committee Of Chinese Education Program
On March 15, 1981, the Ad Hoc Committee from all walks of Chinese community was set up. A workshop session was held oh April 5, 1981 at the Chinese Eider's Mansion. The outcome of this workshop was the terms of reference and a time frame of tasks, as the following indicates:
a) By April 21, 1981, the committee will have completed and would commence distribution of a survey questionnaire.
b) By May 1, 1981, the committee will have collected the survey date and summarized the results.
c) By June 30, 1981, the committee will have submitted the survey report, position paper, a recommended curriculum and the necessary applications to the government bodies.
The committee had the following key persons as coordinators: The Chairman, Kim Hung; Vice-Chairman and Government Liaison, Alfred Woo; Finance, Ralph Yip; Public Relations, Gordon Hum; Research, Agnes Yu; Technical Resources, Charles Pei; Parent Resources, Linda Cheu. These people worked closely with members at large from the Chinese community.
IV. The Edmonton Chinese Kindergarten Association
At the meeting of March 28, 1982, the Ad Hoc Committee of the C.E.P. recommended to the parents of school age children that a Chinese kindergarten be established for September of 1982. The idea was brought back by Alfred Woo that as it was suggested by the School Board, the only way to have a Chinese-English bilingual program without waiting for years of government study is to PRIVATELY operate a kindergarten.
The E.C.K.A. was formed as a result of this recommendation from C.E.P. The Executives of this new parent group were: President, Dominic Cheng; Vice-President, Ping Wong; Secretary, Yui Leung; Treasurer, May Ng; General Service, Tsam Yam (later on this position was filled by Alfred Woo).
The E.C.K.A. proposed to the Department of Education, Early Childhood Services Branch; and organized a privately operated, the very first ever in North America, a Chinese-English bilingual kindergarten. During the 1982-83 school years, two locations are offering classes. The lead-teacher and program. developer is Caroline Pei, with Jill Armstrong as the English language teacher to share the work load.
The group formally proposed a bilingual program in the school system and with support from G.S.A. carried out promotion during Heritage Day of 1982. As a result, the Edmonton Public School Board accepted this proposal on February 8, 1983. The residents of Edmonton, regardless of their ethnic background, would be able to send their children to a Chinese ·English bilingual class from kindergarten to Grade VI within the normal school system.
Let us give three cheers to those people who have worked on this concept and this program. As it is now accepted by the School Board, we want to invite our readers to join the parent group for our future role of providing consultation to the school administration.
Reported by C. Pei