Meanings of Home for Chinese Immigrants in Toronto

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Celia HUANG, University of Waterloo, Canada
Canada is an immigrant country with its founding history, current development, and future sustainability intimately linked to immigration. Over time, the composition of immigrants in Canada has shifted from mostly white European descendants to more visible minorities, with Asia as the largest source of immigrants between 2006 and 2011(Statistics Canada, 2016). Toronto is Canada’s largest and world’s most multicultural city (Levine, 2014, 6); in 2011, 46 percent of its population was born outside of Canada (Statistics Canada, 2016). Toronto’s demographic has changed from a “British and Scottish outpost” to an “urban, cosmopolitan, and multicultural” place, which has mirrored Canada’s transformation (Levine, 2014, 5). Chinese languages were the most common among those whose mother tongue was other than Canada’s two official languages, English and French (Statistics Canada, 2015). Throughout Canadian history, Chinese immigrants have been subject to systematic barriers including the Exclusion Act and Head Tax in the early 20th century (Chan, 2013), and have experienced inequality in accessing employment due to language barriers and foreign educational credentials, especially for the first generation immigrants (Hasmath, 2012). Yet, very little recent research has examined the lived experience of Chinese immigrants in Canada today, especially in relation to “home”. Existing research on home includes diverse and even contradictory meanings of the term, including home as a place, space, feeling, practice, and state of being. Most studies on the meaning of home in the multidisciplinary theoretical and empirical literature are conducted in a Western context (Mallet, 2004). My research seeks to understand the meanings of “home” from the perspectives of first generation Chinese immigrants in Toronto. I will use interpretive methods with qualitative data to describe their lived experience, identify provocative elements, and uncover fundamental assumptions to expose principles, thus opening a conversation for cross-cultural home-making.