How did we develop the People’s Vision for Chinatown?

From 2015 to 2017, we conducted outreach to approximately 500 Chinatown residents, businesses, and community members through multiple series of surveys, interviews, and facilitated “tea time” discussions.

Our outreach was conducted primarily in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. We reached out to people at a variety of locations in Chinatown, including door-knocking in social housing and Single Room Occupancy buildings, and canvassing at Chinatown Plaza and International Village, at benevolent associations, in retail stores, and at community events. We also organized a community storytelling event Untold Stories: Voices of Chinatown Seniors with Hua Foundation and Youth for Chinese Seniors in March 2016 that helped elicit key concerns of Chinese residents. We then held two tea time discussions with residents and community members to discuss common themes from our outreach and develop this report. We obtained permission from participants for all photos used in this report.

While we met with people from many different ethnic and class backgrounds, we made an effort to engage people in the neighbourhood who had difficulty participating in conventional government consultation processes (e.g., people who speak Cantonese or Mandarin, people with disabilities, and low-income residents). We found that by engaging people in their primary languages both individually and in facilitated small groups, rather than with a written questionnaire or through an open house, we were able to gather more meaningful input than other studies of Chinatown. In particular, we were surprised at the profoundly emotional narratives that people shared with our interviewers—an indication of how deeply they rely on and identify as part of the Chinatown community. We are grateful for these contributions and thank everyone for their generosity.

UNTOLD STORIES: Voices of Chinatown Seniors, March 2016. Credit: Sid Tan