Through the Gate

[vimeo][/vimeo] Ever since my first visit last year, the Jamia Mosque, located near the top of the Central-Mid Levels escalator, has had a special pull on me. Hidden behind its stone walls is a verdant respite from the noise and stress of Central. A stately wrought iron gate acts as a portal between a frenzied […]

Refugees in Hong Kong

In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, hundreds of thousands of people fled war, famine and social upheaval in mainland China, ending up in ramshackle settlements on the hillsides of Hong Kong. Some photos from a 1962 issue of LIFE magazine—now available online thanks to Google—capture the experience of those migrants. Looking at these images, it’s […]

Posted in: Asia Pacific, History, Public Space, Society and Culture by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Refugees in Hong Kong , ,

The Mohawk Skyline

For reasons that don’t quite take a doctorate in sociology to fathom, employment and ethnicity are often interrelated, especially when it comes to certain service-sector trades. Haitians dominate the taxi industry in Montreal; Greeks are well-represented in the ranks of Western Canadian pizzeria owners; and the Hui have a lock on the sale of barbecued […]

Migrant Worker Seeks Love

[youtube]SVABgEtL4HE[/youtube] I’ve always had a thing for Sexy Beijing, Danwei‘s offbeat, good-natured sendup of the HBO television series Sex and the City. Its host, Anna Sophie Loewenberg, explores some of Beijing’s social and culture issues through the guise of a funnier, more awkward and self-effacing Carrie Bradshaw. Its treatment is decidedly lightweight but, like a […]

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The Errant Canadians

It’s fun to see Jean-Paul Riopelle, now considered to have been of Canada’s foremost artists, described as a “young abstract painter” in Les Canadiens errants, a 1956 National Film Board documentary. He describes the open atmosphere of Paris as being particularly conducive to the creation of art. Implicitly, of course, he is referring to the […]

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Stranded in Hong Kong

Refugees on a Sham Shui Po rooftop. Photo from Our Life in West Kowloon, a book published by the Society for Community Organization, a social welfare group In the past, Roy Chipowoaminga walked the streets of Hong Kong as a tourist. In August, he was sleeping on them. Penniless and far from home, he found […]

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Earth to Mouth

For all the times I went to buy groceries at Montreal’s Chinese supermarkets, it never once occurred to me that much of the food I was buying was in fact locally-produced. Then I saw Yung Chang’s short documentary, Earth to Mouth, which my friend Cedric screened last year in a fifth-floor room in Chinatown. In […]

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“Where We Can Find Our Family”

“Huwag Manigarilyo” is not what you would expect to find written on an official banner in Hong Kong, but that’s exactly the message that greets visitors to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, where Indonesian and Tagalog join Chinese and English on the park’s official signage, such as the banners meant to remind park-goers that smoking […]

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The Case for Greektown

Mayor Gérald Tremblay’s attempt to rename Park Avenue two years ago was a turning point in the street’s history. When that controversy emerged, a number of the street’s Greek merchants were already asking the city to create a Hellenic Quarter similar to Little Italy or Chinatown. The city spent $15,000 on a feasibility study that […]

Up the Yangtze

[youtube]Q1fFuynf-Yw[/youtube] The night before last, as the remnants of a thunderstorm drizzled down on Bernard Street, I walked to the Outremont Theatre to see Yung Chang’s documentary Up the Yangtze for the second time. Seeing it again only confirmed that this is truly a remarkable film — and one of the best and most important […]

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The Evolving Landscape of the Ethnic Media

Chinese and English newspapers at a newsstand in Vancouver When Sept Days sent Montreal journalist Xian Hu to Afghanistan last December, the weekly Chinese newspaper was not only making a statement to its competitors in the community here, but to mainstream newspapers as well. “We want Montreal to know that the Chinese community wants to […]

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Chinatown’s Jewish History

If Chinatown’s Jewish heritage isn’t obvious, it’s probably because it has been erased by time and redevelopment, swept away like Chenneville St. and its quietly imposing synagogue. Makom: Seeking Sacred Space, an ongoing exhibition at Hampstead’s Dorshei Emet synagogue, examines the historical traces of Montreal’s Jewish community with photos of former synagogues near the Main. […]

Urban, Multicultural Environmentalism

Volunteers at the 2007 Chinatown Clean Up, an event designed, in part, to raise environmental awareness A few years ago, Sandra Lee was a McGill marketing student with a budding interest in environmental issues. Involved with a mainstream environmental advocacy group, she found herself increasingly alienated by what she terms the “camping culture” of the […]

Don’t Bulldoze the Slums

Street scene in Dharavi. Photo from the Economist “Around 6am, the squealing of copulating rats—signalling a night-long verminous orgy on the rooftops of Dharavi, a slum in Mumbai—gives way to the more cheerful sound of chirruping sparrows. Through a small window in Shashikant (“Shashi”) Kawale’s rickety shack, daylight seeps. It reveals a curly black head […]

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