City Rings In the Year of the Horse

The Chinese Canadian Association of Yukon (CCAY) helped the territory bring in the year of the horse on January 25 with a three hour celebration of the Chinese New Year. The event, held at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse, YT, featured roughly 70 performers demonstrating traditional dance, music, costumes, and Tai Chi forms.

As a non-profit, the CCAY focuses on “sharing the richness of our Chinese culture with each other, our families, and the Yukon.” Their members hail from different countries, speak many different dialects of Chinese and practice different traditions, but share “a common Chinese ethnicity.” The group seeks “to enjoy each other’s traditions; sharing them with everyone to ensure those traditions live on forever.”

Early Chinese immigrants to Canada faced social and legal discrimination. The Chinese Immigration Act of 1885 put a head tax on each immigrant, meaning they had to pay $50 to enter the country. By 1903 that fee had gone up to $500, and in 1923 another act banned Chinese immigration completely.

The prohibition on Chinese immigration was lifted in 1947, the same year Chinese and Indo-Canadians were finally allowed the right to vote. Out of a total population of 30,372 people, the 2006 Canadian census documented 325 Canadians of Chinese descent in the Yukon, with 260 of those speaking Chinese languages.

The Chinese New Year is based on the ancient Chinese calendar. This was based on many different factors, including the Chinese zodiac. A new year is always marked by the features of one of the 12 astrological animals: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, or pig. Those born under the sign of the horse are considered “productive, enthusiastic, independent, engaging, dynamic and honorable.”

Event organizer Kristy Kuo notes that the fête was “very successful” and says all of the 350 available tickets completely sold out a week prior to the affair. They promoted the event mainly through word of mouth, social media, and notices on the websites of event performers.

Kuo says having promotional materials fit your event to a tee can make it even more special, and that finding a company you trust to produce those materials will make planning easier. “People were pleased to see the Horse Year design on the tickets,” Kuo adds, noting that they helped bring back good memories for attendees. “Your service was great and you were quick to respond to all my requests.”