Chinese & Indigenous People’s Relationships

Chinese and Indigenous communities have shared histories. We faced hardships together while mining for gold in the British Columbia gold rush and experiencing the rugged Canadian weather and terrain. According to Ma (2012),

First Nations people nursed railway workers back to health when they were left to die along the tracks, how First Nations men had teamed up with Chinese labourers working in a Nanaimo coal mine to fight off white bullies, and how some labourers had children with First Nations women. (para. 6)

There are many graves on First Nations territories when Chinese people died from the flu and from the building of the railway, crushed by landslides, collapsing tunnels and premature blastings (Mittelstedt, 2014). The First Nations communities took in the Chinese railroad workers and care for their grave sites to this day (Mittelstedt, 2014). We enjoyed economic success and partnerships that were respectful and mutually beneficial (Ma, 2012). Chinese people leased lands (on First Nations) to farm and then hired Indigenous people to help farm the land (Mathur et al., 2011, p. 74). The Chinese built elaborate gold-mining operations among First Nations communities and perhaps most importantly our communities intermingled and there were many marriages between Chinese men and Indigenous women. In 1891, 98% of Chinese people in Canada lived in British Columbia (Barman, 2013, p. 1), which explains why there are such intimate ties between Chinese people and our First Nations communities in British Columbia. Unsurprisingly, one in six Chinese men created a family with a local Indigenous woman (Barman, 2013, p. 1).

Interested in delving deeper into history? Get in touch with our Chair, Landy Anderson, to request a captivating presentation. During this enlightening and thought-provoking keynote address, participants will uncover the often overlooked narratives of oppression and resilience that shaped our Chinese and Indigenous communities. Our shared histories are intertwined through Canada’s regrettable history of racist legislation, which profoundly disrupted Chinese and Indigenous families. The presentation will explore the historical injustices suffered by these communities, including the detrimental impact of the residential schooling system.

To request a presentation, please email fccrwc@gmail.com

Landy Anderson

Chair, Foundation to Commemorate the Chinese Railroad Workers in Canada

Landy Anderson is of mixed heritage of Chinese and Métis. She is a member of the Gaspé Peninsula, Lower St-Lawrence, and Magdalen Islands Métis Aboriginal Nation in Quebec. Her husband and children are members of Alderville First Nation, an Ojibway reserve in Ontario. Landy’s Chinese name translates as “beautiful jade” and her Indigenous spirit name translates as “one who brings the drum,” which means she brings balance. Landy walks in two cultural worlds, comfortable in both.

Landy is the granddaughter of a Toisan Chinese head taxpayer and railroad worker. Her Grandfather Mr. Ralph Lung Kee Lee was one of the last living head taxpayers to receive our Prime Minister’s apology on June 22, 2006. Landy has been a member of the Foundation to Commemorate the Chinese Railroad Workers in Canada since 2011 and in 2019 she became the Chair of the Foundation to Commemorate the Chinese Railroad Workers in Canada.

Landy’s family and her husband’s family have the influence of the Church and/or residential schools in their bloodlines. Landy’s husband, a former Crown Ward in Ontario was an Indigenous child in care who survived Canada’s infamous Sixties Scoop. Landy’s children are the first offspring in the Anderson bloodline who have not been in a residential school or children’s aid care.

Landy is a book author and teaches an Indigenous Child Well-Being Course at Trent University. Currently, Landy is a Senior Manager for an Indigenous Child and Family Well-Being Agency (an Indigenous Children’s Aid Society). 

Visit Landy’s website or search her YouTube cooking channel to learn more about Landy!