A Tale for COVID Time
I have always believed that culture can transform, art can heal and history holds a mirror to ourselves and our time—thus my deep love for the study of history, arts and culture.
This current unsettling time of global pandemic crisis easily evokes feelings of insecurity and fear. It is a time of racism and uprisings against racism and other forms of discrimination. When I was given a small public space to share my work, I wondered what would be helpful when facing the challenges of our time.
The Royal BC Museum’s special Pocket Gallery A Tale of Two Families: Generations of Intercultural Communities and Family Lessons conveys a special message for the time of COVID. It assures us other people have not only made it through harsh times but have built legacies of success and community support.
Due to historical exclusion and colonial record-keeping practices, few families from settler minority groups can trace their histories back to the gold rush period that began in 1858. Since 2016, I have worked with two families that can: one French Canadian and the other Chinese Canadian. Their stories reveal rarely recorded generational continuities from the gold rush era to the present day. These families have survived times of great adversity, including the Great Depression and the Chinese exclusion era, to build lasting legacies in BC. What has kept the two families going for generations and through difficulties? What has allowed them to continue to grow and prosper today?
A deeper look at the family histories through the family members’ lenses reveals patterns in how the two families persisted through generations. Both families emphasize education, intercultural community building and kindness as family values. Their ideals resonate with our shared experiences and collective values as Canadians. During times of extraordinary challenges, such core values can shape people’s response. The stories of the Guichon and Louie families exemplify resilience through hard times in British Columbia history. Their family lessons are British Columbians’ strength.
On September 23, 2020, the museum hosted a special COVID-safe appreciation event for the featured families and communities of this Pocket Gallery. Maurice Guibord, président, Société historique francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, shared on video the significance of the Guichon family history.
Ms. Hilde Rose, the only living third-generation ranch operator, spoke on behalf of the Guichon family. With her husband Guy Rose, who was a third-generation Guichon, she operated the Quilchena Cattle Co. and the historic Quilchena Hotel for decades.
Mr. Alan Lowe, board chair of the Victoria Chinatown Museum Society and long-time beloved leader and former mayor of Victoria, spoke on behalf of the Victoria Chinatown communities to stress the importance of Chinatown history and the need to preserve it with a new museum in Victoria’s Chinatown.
Mr. Brandt Louie spoke on behalf of the Louie-Seto family as a direct descendant of the pioneer families of the Louies, Setos and Lees in BC, and of the Lews from the United States. He is also the third-generation leader of the H.Y. Louie Family Co. Ltd. His full speech can be found here.
The families’s joined commitment to education, intercultural community building and kindness resonate with our shared values as Canadians. These core values can help us shape our response during COVID time and the fight against discrimination through intercultural understanding and the pursuit of social justice.