Meet Derek

“It’s cool that we, in a healthy way, are able to revisit, understand and reflect on our experiences as Chinese Canadians, especially since so many of us are now second generation and on and on.

I think we, in particular, are at a cultural crossroad, where we can see our grandparents or our parents and the values that they have that are uniquely Chinese. But then having grown up in Canada and seeing the types of values and cultural precedents that come from Canada, we are in a space to evaluate and say, ‘Here’s what I’m going to pull from my Chinese-ness. Here’s what I’m going to pull from my Canadian-ness.’ Hopefully, things that I pull will create a better, healthy environment for the next generation.

I didn’t really realize how different being Chinese was until I was older. As much as I love my friends, there’s always been kind of like a psychic distance. The way that I think of things, especially in terms of individualism versus doing what’s right for family, those are things that my “white” friends don’t really understand as much.

I remember one of my friends telling me, ‘You’re super loyal. You’re always going to be there as a friend.’ And for me, that was an extension of family values, like, it doesn’t matter how hard things are going to get, we’ve got to figure this out.

I’ve suffered from pretty bad depression throughout my life. In the process of struggling with depression, I realized a number of things, like having the support of my family, the implicit love and care that they provided, despite me being a mental wreck at certain points in my life. To me, one of those epiphanies came when I came to the conclusion that if my family didn’t love me as much as they did, I would totally be homeless. There’s no way that I would have been able to take care of myself at certain points in my life. They were there for me in times when I felt that life was challenging.

While I may have perceived my family to be kind of like the nexus of my community, I think I have started to see and cultivate friendships with new people, like people that I’ve met in university and work and also affinity spaces with people who share similar interests. I’m really into the game development space in Edmonton. I love making games, so that community has become really close to me too. Once I’ve found affinity with those communities, it becomes important for me to then look for ways in which I can enhance belonging, not just for myself, but for other people in that community.

The Game Discovery Exhibition. Edmonton, AB – 2016

Belonging is a necessary ingredient for making sustainable communities. My job is actually as a cultural development consultant, and so the thing that I work on on a day to day basis is corporate culture. So what’s the sort of organization that we want to build? And how do we create opportunities for people to feel tied to the organization?

I think that sense of belonging and why it’s important is driven by a need to contribute – being a good human being, establishing relationships that are long lasting and fruitful, and producing a society and a place that I want to live in or that is a good for others to live in.

From a bigger picture perspective, I think some of that belonging is around even just trying to find out what our values are, like what really means something to us. We are closer in our values than we think. It’s those barriers that prevent us from expressing love and care to other human beings that I think belonging can help to deconstruct and excise.

长大之后,我才发现作为一个华人是与众不同的。 朋友们都认为我是一个忠诚、能陪伴左右的人。我认为这是华人家庭观念延伸的一部份,无论遇到任何困难都要一起面对。 特别在我对抗抑郁情绪的时候,我体会到家人无私的爱与关怀,支持我渡过难关。 无论生活有多困难,他们依然对我不离不弃。

 家人也是我与社会联系的桥梁。 刚上大学和步入社会工作的时候,我会跟有相同兴趣的人成为朋友。 埃德蒙顿的电子游戏领域引起我的兴趣,也令我与社区更加接近,息息相关,由此令我寻找方法去建立自我以及發掘對社会的归属感。 要建立一个稳定的社会,归属感尤其重要。我的工作作为一个文化发展咨询师,每天的工作就是要使大家如何融入公司文化。 成为一个品格良好的人、与他人建立长久的关系、和建设一个理想社会,我認為都是我建立归属感的一些途徑。” — Derek

All photos provided by Derek.

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