‘I’m one or the other’

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Oriena, Chinese-Canadian

Photo and interview by ISABELLE DOCTO

What does it mean for you to be hyphenated? 

I don’t often refer to myself as Chinese-Canadian or anything, but if you want to be formal, yeah that’s correct. I’m proud to be Chinese and [I’m] getting to be actually Canadian… having the Canadian culture kind of affect me.

Sometimes I feel like I’m not Chinese enough.When I was younger I was really into being not identified as solely Chinese because I feel, like, that’s the only thing people see. I mean every Chinese or Asian kid gets the racism card, where people make fun of your name, and I don’t even have that. I don’t even have a weird name or anything. But you know how there’s people who come to Canada or North America and they’re like, “Oh, we have to make ourselves an English name.”

I think my teacher said once that people who are minorities have two names because they want to assimilate and I kind of liked that idea. But, at the same time, it’s probably like losing your own culture. I guess I believe in the idea of identifying as hyphenated, but you know I’m not used to identifying as both. I always just say one or the other depending on who I’m talking to.

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