One of the sad realities of our fair city is that perfectly good homes are being demolished, trucked away to the dump and replaced with opulent boundary busting megahomes. This has fueled skyrocketing housing prices and has also fueled some resentment towards those held responsible for these trends: wealthy offshore buyers, specifically from China. This has resulted in a common generalization that Richmondites of Chinese origin are wealthy.
From my observations at the Community Meal and out in the streets of Richmond, this generalization is wrong and an example of another sad reality. Sure there are loads of Mercedes with Asians at the wheel, but I also see loads of elderly Chinese folks riding bicycles, some loaded down with empties they've managed to scrounge. I see Chinese men and women delivering newspapers and flyers, I see them get on the bus loaded down with groceries. And I see them line up at the Food Bank and at the Community Meals.
I've taken the opportunity to chat with some who join us at the Community Meal at St Alban.
One of our regulars is a woman with a young daughter and when I saw her last week I asked how her day went. She said she's looking for a job and hopes to find work in a food court or restaurant. She's a single Mom who lost her job a while back and her EI has run out. But she hastened to add that she and her daughter are happy -- you don't need much money to have a good and happy life.
A young family that just recently started attending the meal from China and the father has found work but not in his profession. He's trained as an Engineer but has found work as a production worker in a factory for not much more than minimum wage. He doesn't like his job, but needs to keep it to provide for his family.
It's tough being a newly arrived immigrant, struggling to speak the language and adapt to new customs, but it must be especially tough to arrive in a country, with no job and very little money and be faced with a local population with the distorted view about Chinese and wealth, some who even question their presence at a Community Meal.
All are welcome at our Community Meal and that's one of the realities that makes Richmond a great place to live.