Chinese-Canadians ‘give back’ by sponsoring Syrian refugees

February 15, 2016

By Catherine Roifsen, CBC News |

When Sandy Lu sees images of Syrian refugee children trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of safety, she feels more than sympathy.

She’s been there.

At age 10, she was one hundreds of thousands of so-called “boat people” who fled Vietnam in the late 1970s and early 80s.

“It seems like a long time ago but it’s still very close at heart,” says Lu, who is ethnically Chinese but was born in Vietnam.

“When I see pictures like that, it really touches my heart.”

Lu’s experiences as a refugee and the welcome she received in Canada motivated her to join a group of Chinese-Canadians in Metro Vancouver sponsoring a Syrian refugee family.

The group of 10 people includes refugees and immigrants from Hong Kong who share a desire to help newcomers adjust to life in B.C.

“I as a refugee myself felt that Canada has given me a lot of opportunity,” says Lu, who now works as a financial advisor.

“I want to give back to the community and to society.”

She’ll get a chance soon.

Their Syrian family of six, with four children between the ages of three and 11, is expected in about a month.

‘Hesitation’ and ‘fear’ amongst Chinese community

Several group members said that they’ve heard negative reactions to their project from friends, family and clients.

Group member Thomas Tam, the former CEO of Success, says there’s a lack of knowledge about Syrians amongst some members of the Chinese-Canadian community.

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