Edmonton’s Chinese community began with a Chinatown that first emerged at the intersection of Namayo and Rice Street (now 97 street and 101 A Avenue) around 1900. The majority of the Chinese population at this time were men working as labourers. The Canadian Government had imposed a head tax in 1885 in order to limit the number of Chinese coming into the country.
It was not until 1904 that Edmonton would incorporate into a city. The original Edmonton downtown developed East of Chinatown along 97st and Jasper Avenue. Westward expansion of Edmonton would not occur until 1910, when the Hudson’s Bay company sold off their reserve lands.
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).
We hope you enjoy your time with this brief glimpse of Chinese culture.