9/11/16

Chinese Immigrants Supported Family Back in Their Home Villages

Even as a young child, I knew that my father sent periodic remittances to help his family back in Hoiping back in the 1940s.  I later learned that this was a common practice for Chinese immigrants in North America to help family members back in the villages financially.

I didn't know how often or how much father sent, or how much he could afford to provide. After all, growing up I always had the feeling that we were fairly poor ourselves.  But I definitely knew my mother often complained bitterly that my father did not permit her to send money back to her family. This situation reflected the dominant role of the husband in the traditional Chinese family, and was a source of periodic marital conflict for my parents.

Not too long ago, I discovered a heart-wrenching letter that my mother's younger sister back in the home village sent her in 1951. A friend translated it into English.  She was desperately begging my father and mother to send money to help her and her children get shelter and food as they were literally living on the street.



I don't know how my mother responded, but surely she must have agonized over it, and my guess is that my father was not supportive. This situation was certainly not unique for my parents but probably faced by many other Chinese immigrants in North America.

2 comments:

  1. thanks for sharing that, John. So heart wrenching. Do you have any knowledge of where your maternal aunt or cousins are today? I hope they did okay in the end.

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    1. thanks... yes, I tracked them down and found one cousin in Regina...the aunt and her husband had passed away a while back, but I got to meet several of their family in Vancouver. It was a wonderful chance to get contact, and some 'closure'

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