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, Winnie Ng discusses her early childhood in Hong Kong, her immigration to Canada and her work experiences – focusing primarily on her involvement with community activism and labour rights organizations.
Winnie was born in 1951 in Hong Kong. Her parents both came from Fujian province, but they settled and raised their family of four children in Hong Kong. Winnie came to Canada in 1968 after a Leftist riot in Hong Kong. The incident drew her attention to politics. She studied Sociology at McGill University (Montreal, Quebec) in the early 1970s and supported her education by working summer jobs picking strawberries, waiting tables, and working as a hotel housekeeper.
She met her husband Yongjin Rao – later the Chair of the CCNC Toronto Chapter – at McGill University (Montreal). The couple settled in Toronto, where Winnie soon found an internship position researching pay equity at the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. After the research work was finished, she found a job at the University Settlement House. Winnie and her friends founded the Chinese Canadians for Mutual Advancement organization. In 1977, she started her work at the International Ladies Government Workers Union. After her first child was born, Winnie transferred to the Centre of Women Immigrants where she taught English to new immigrants.
Her community organized many activities such as urging the government to accept more refugees from Vietnam and protesting the discriminatory W5 segment on Chinese university enrollment. At the time of the interview, Winnie was a member of NDP and participated in many discussions on policies.