New book discusses Canadian identity from an immigrant perspective

When Toronto-based writer and art critic Amy Fung came to live in Vancouver, it was post-Olympics and she recalled that there was a fervour over how no one can afford housing because of the Chinese.

For the first time, she encountered how her skin colour was what people saw first and how they had a preconceived idea of what that means.

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“I want to unpack some of those things (in a book), in terms of how media and dominant Canadian culture can separate things like race and class,” said Fung.

Fung will launch her new book, Before I was a Critic, I Was a Human Being, in Richmond in May, discussing what it means to be a Canadian. In her book, she raises questions about identity, through the lens of an immigrant.

 “As someone who lives in Richmond and Vancouver, you probably know that there are severe forms of racism in the city, in the country,” Fung said to the Richmond News.

“As Asians, as minorities, we don't get the worst of it, but we also don't really get to talk about it either.”

Fung's book looks at where Canadians are right now in terms of how people look at race and talk about it through both the arts and in the daily interactions she experienced.

"(It) is the lens where I am foreign born - I'm born in Hong Kong, I've lived across the country in many different places," she noted.

The book also offers conversations Fung has found missing, such as Canadian history and stories of immigrant lives told from their own perspectives.

She added that a lot of immigrants’ stories are about the trauma of exile, the pain of leaving or other survivor stories.

“I wanted to write about what it means to actually just live here in this country and to prosper, to also recognize complicity in the nationhood of Canada, and to gain an understanding of what it means to actually be Canadian in this century,” said Fung.

“And to also know that living here means to benefit from that, but the question is, do you just try to be a quote-unquote good citizen according to Canadian law, or the good citizen according to being like a human, understanding that there are bigger things than just paying your taxes here.”

Fung will launch the book at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 at Richmond Public Library.

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