Over 130 interviews with Chinese Canadian women were conducted for the book Jin Guo: Voices of Chinese Canadian Women. Produced in 1992 by the Women’s Book Committee of the Chinese Canadian National Council, Jin Guo was intended to fill the gap in historical accounts of Chinese Canadian women’s history. Researchers traveled across Canada to interview Chinese Canadian women of various ages and backgrounds. The book’s authors, Amy Go, Winnie Ng, Dora Nipp, Julia Tao, Terry Woo and May Yee, organized the book around themes and patterns that emerged across multiple interviews – feelings of isolation and culture shock upon arrival in Canada, memories of parent-child relationships, the importance of education, the working lives of women, discrimination, cultural identity, marriage and dating, family life, perspectives on aging and retirement, and examples community activism. The interviews conducted for this project are stored at the Multicultural History Society of Ontario’s archives. This collections database includes a large cross-section of interviews conducted for Jin Guo – in English, Cantonese and Mandarin.
In this interview, Stella Ng discusses her childhood in Hong Kong and her immigration to Canada to pursue her education. She also shares her views on women’s rights within the Chinese-Canadian community.
Born in Hong Kong in 1959, Stella was the second of three children. She remembers her childhood as a sad one; she felt that her mother resented her children for taking her away from her career. Though she did well in school, her unhappy home life made her rebellious and stubborn.
The family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, when Stella was seventeen. Stella remembers being treated fairly in high school but also feeling lonely, partly due to her poor English skills. Later, she studied psychology at the University of British Columbia. She was passionate about social work and volunteered with individuals with disabilities.
Stella went to Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario for graduate school. She recalls that her parents were unhappy with this choice and cut off contact with her for several months. Stella recounts being introduced to feminist theories while in Ottawa, although she feels that this was simply putting a name to a side of herself that was always there. According to Stella, the issue of sexism within the Chinese community is complicated because the Chinese are still dealing with other needs. To her, Chinese women sometimes perpetuate the antiquated ideas of past generations and pass them on to their children. Stella explains that in Chinese society the stigma that comes from leaving one’s husband also contributes to sexism and in extreme circumstances, spousal abuse.
Stella now works in a Women’s Crisis Centre in Vancouver, focusing on helping Chinese Canadian women and children who are being abused. She insists that whatever she does in the future will involve helping people.