Chinese celebrate New Year

Published on February 22, 2016

 The Year of the Monkey is said to symbolize courage and confidence while warding off evil spirits and bringing in blessings.

Members of P.E.I.'s Chinese community are also hoping the year brings a continued growth in relations between their new home and former country.

During his speech at Saturday night's Chinese New Year celebration in Charlottetown, Paul Yin, president of the Chinese Canadian Association of PEI, said that community has been growing steadily in recent years 

With more than 3,000 Chinese residents now living in P.E.I., he said the influx has benefited both communities.

"Out of the more than 600 families, 200 of those families are establishing their businesses here and are also investing into different programs," said Yin, who spoke through a translator. "They're making significant contributions to the transition and diversification of the economy here."

A boisterous crowd of more than 1,000 people was on hand at the P.E.I. Convention Centre to usher in the Year of the Monkey, which officially began Feb. 8.

The night saw a number of performances, including music and dance, martial arts and a traditional Chinese dragon.

Traditional Chinese cuisine was also served throughout the night.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan wished all of those in P.E.I.'s Chinese community good health and fortune in the coming year

MacLauchlan noted he had been attending the celebration since it began and said it was an important opportunity to celebrate the strength and diversity of the community.

"(I attended) when it was at the Murphy's Centre, then the Civic Centre," said MacLauchlan. "But this is the biggest one yet, so congratulations."

The event also saw the attendance of Han Tao, a minister-counsellor for the Chinese Embassy in Canada.

Tao said he has three expectations for the new year, two being China's continuous growth and an improved relationship between China and Canada.

He said that three weeks ago his embassy and Global Affairs Canada co-hosted an event celebrating the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relationship between the two countries.

Tao noted the difference since then, which he described as 'remarkable progress.'

"Forty-five years ago there were 3,000 people travelling between our two countries in one year. Now there's 3,000 people doing that in one day," said Tao. "(Forty-five years ago) our trade volume was 150 million US dollars, last year our trade volume was 60 billion US dollars. So we've achieved a lot, but we need to reach even more."

Tao said his third expectation was for P.E.I. to have more mutually-beneficial co-operation with China in the coming year, and noted the already friendly relationships between UPEI and Chinese universities.

"Last year the trade volume between China and P.E.I. was about 14 million Canadian dollars," he said. "I believe, with a joint effort, we will see more fruits of co-operation in the new year."

Yin also provided an update on the association's past year, which included creating a more interactive community by hosting events such as barbecues and hiking outings to welcome other newcomers.

The association also facilitated seminars and workshops focusing on financial management and business law, as well as creating a Chinese translated version of the Island Life brochure.

"It will make life even smoother and easier for a lot of newcomers who speak Chinese," said Yin. "Our motto is 'all for one and one for all.' A community of harmony, mutual support and active participation is what we're striving for."