Opening of the “Who am I? Bridging the Pacific: From Guangdong to Barkerville and Back” Photo Exhibit (Guangzhou, China)
Guangzhou, China, Wednesday, October 23, 2013
It is wonderful to wrap up my State visit to China with a stop in Guangdong. It is here, in many ways, that the story of the relationship between Canada and China begins. And it is the Barkerville Exhibition, which we are opening today here at the Guangdong Museum of Chinese Nationals Residing Abroad, that tells the story of our enduring friendship.
In honouring our history in this way, we acknowledge the challenges faced by the earliest Chinese immigrants to Canada—most of whom, I should add, came from this province. Moreover, we are treated to poignant, touching and inspiring stories, each one a reminder of how our relationship has grown over the decades.
The quest for gold in Barkerville, British Columbia, more than a century ago attracted Chinese people to the region. Since that time, our relationship has evolved far more than anyone could ever have imagined.
Today, Chinese people are travelling, studying and settling in Canada, participating in and contributing to all facets of Canada’s success. I am pleased that many of those who choose to come to Canada do so from right here, in Guangdong, and that many are investing heavily in our future. It is fitting, given our history, that we maintain such strong people-to-people ties between this region and Canada.
In turn, many Canadians are becoming increasingly active in this province, in business, education, research and the arts. For example, the recent visit and performance by the National Arts Centre Orchestra, as well as visits by four Chinese-Canadian authors with roots in this province, demonstrate the rich opportunity for cultural exchange between our peoples.
This brings us to this very exhibit. It is aptly titled Who Am I? Bridging the Pacific: From Guangdong to Barkerville and Back, and gives us a glimpse into the lives of Chinese immigrants to Canada in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In these photos, we can clearly see how much they contributed to our country as Canada was finding its feet as a nation.
This exhibit also allows for the collection of even more stories and information of Canada and China’s past, becoming an evolving record of our shared history.
The title, Who am I?, remains a relevant question today, particularly for both Canadians and Chinese who identify with both countries.
Today, we are finding unique ways to answer that question. We apply the experiences of our native land and culture to our own lives, taking the best of both worlds to enrich Canada, and the world, as a result.
This diversity helps foster creativity, innovation and competitiveness, as well as tolerance, compassion and understanding.
We work well together because we must, because we know that our success in a globalized world depends on our ability to collaborate with others. This desire to work together is at the heart of our relationship, one that would not be expanding as rapidly without your dedication.
This gathering is cause for celebration. All of you here are friends of Canada. Together, you are making real contributions to Canada and to China, reaching out and forging new ties.
Together, it is up to us to create the smarter, more caring world to which we aspire. Let us strive to build fair, prosperous and inclusive societies in which equality of opportunity and excellence go hand in hand.
Together, we have much to learn from each other, and I thank you for your contributions to our enduring friendship.