Extraordinary Women: The Chinese Immigrant Pioneer

The National Film Board has a treasure trove of documentaries that preserve the stories of earlier generations and reveals the challenges they faced. One such film is Under the Willow Tree: Pioneer Chinese Women in Canada, made in 1997.

Director and narrator Dora Nipp will join us, along with Arlene Chan, whose mother Jean Lumb is interviewed in the film. Dora has woven archival material, old photos from family albums, the recollections of seven women who grew up in Canada in the first half of the 20th century and her own memories to portray a fascinating and overlooked part of Canadian history. (The first Chinese woman is recorded to have entered the British colony in 1860, just seven years before Confederation.)

Here’s how the NFB describes the film: “It is an amazing tale of courageous women who left behind their families, knowing they would never see them again and of girls who were shipped off to the New World to marry men they had never met. These are the women who fought against the many forms of racism they faced in Canada while, at the same time, challenging sexism within their own communities. By passing on language, culture, and values to their children, these women defined what it means to be Chinese Canadian.”


Doors Open 30 Minutes Before Showtime.


Tickets are by donation ($10 suggested). Proceeds support Back Lane Studios programs!