Pakistani-born Chinese adds new colours to multicultural society

December 11, 2013 - All News

Staff Writer
Paul Chiang speaks Hakka at home. Mandarin, Cantonese and Hobei among Chinese community, but whenever he goes to Pakistani gatherings, Urdu, Punjabi and sometimes even Pashto becomes his native language.
Chiang, a 53-year-old resident of Richmond Hill, is one of Canada’s amazing community members with unique backgrounds who have taken the incredible multicultural society to a whole new level where there is no scale to measure its diversity.
With his exceptional identity, Sgt. Paul Chiang is a Canadian of Chinese heritage, but he was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan.
“I am Canadian of Chinese heritage born in Pakistan,” Chiang told SAF in an interview. “I am proud of my heritage and birthplace. Both are very close to my heart.”
More than 86 years ago in 1927, Chiang says his grandparents were migrated to Pakistan (the then India) from Central China.
Some 50 years later, Chiang’s family moved to Canada in 1976. Currently he is serving as a diversity officer at the Diversity and Cultural Resources Unit of the York Regional Police.
He is married to Monica Chiang, a Rawalpindi-born Chinese. Together they have three children and two grandchildren.
For years as a diversity officer, Chiang has been instrumental in building relationship between law enforcing agencies and various communities in Ontario.

Q. You’re a Canadian, but your background is Pakistani with Chinese descent, can you tell us about it?
A. I was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and my background is Chinese. My mother and my father were also born in Karachi but my grandparents, both from my mother and father’s side, migrated to Pakistan from central China, the province called Hubei.
Q. Approximately when your grandparents migrated to Pakistan?
A. They moved to Karachi (the then city of India) in around 1927.
Q. Then how did you come to Canada?
A. We came to Canada about 36 years ago in 1976. At that time immigration was much easier than now. We came under family sponsorship program. My dad’s brother was living in Canada and he sponsored all of us, including my brothers and sisters. So we all came together as a family.
Q. How about your wife, is she also of Chinese heritage born in Pakistan?
A. Yes, my wife Monica Chiang is also of Chinese background born in Pakistan. But I am from Karachi and she is from Rawalpindi.
Q. Do you have children?
A. Together Monica and I have one son, two daughters and two grandchildren. I am 53 years of age. My son is a doctor, my older daughter is a geologist and my younger daughter is studying law.
Q. Which language do you speak at home?
A. At home we speak in English or Hakka Chinese.
Q.  Now you are a Canadian, born in Pakistan, your background is Chinese. What would you like to be called?
A. I prefer to be called ‘Canadian of Chinese heritage born in Pakistan’.
Q. How many languages do you speak?
A. Apart from English, I speak Hakka, which is my native language from central China. I also speak Mandarin, Cantonese and Hobei. And since I am born Pakistani, I also speak Urdu, Punjabi and a little bit Pashto.
Q. What are your feelings about your background?
A. All I can say I am proud of my heritage and birthplace. Both are very close to my heart.
Q. How often you visit Pakistan and China? Do you still have relatives there?
A. I have relatives both in Pakistan and China. Last time I visited Pakistan in the year 2000, but I was in China just two years ago in 2011.
Q. What is your favourite dish?
A. Wow! My favourite dish is Karachi gosht (meat).
Q. Do you have any idea about the number of Chinese people living in Pakistan?
A. I don’t have the exact numbers, but I know a large number of Chinese families are there for generations. Many of them are now moving to Canada, the United States, Europe and various other parts of the world for several reasons. But let me tell you that from China, people are still moving to Pakistan for business or education purposes.
Q. Now you are a Pakistani with Chinese background, tell me what kind of response do you get from the community here?
A. I always get very good response from the community. Whenever we go to any event or gathering, personally as well as professionally, people always give us great respect and I am very thankful to them.
Professionally my role is to build relationship and interact with different communities. So wherever I go, I always get positive response and feedback from the community.
Especially when I speak Urdu, it makes it easier in the Pakistani community because there is no language barrier.
Q. What is you profession?
A. Well! I am serving as a diversity officer at the York Regional Police’s Diversity and Cultural Resources Unit.
Q. In York Regional Police, what is your role as a diversity officer?
A. Building relationship with communities is very important. Canada is a land of immigrants. We have lots of newcomers and it is important for them to know about policing in Canada. Most people come from areas where police work for state, but here we try to make them understand that police is your friend and our job is to save your life and protect you.
So we do presentations to newcomer groups at places like ESL schools.
We also organize different community events such as celebrating Asian Heritage Month, Black History Month and Menorah Lighting and Citizenship ceremonies. We also do citizenship ceremony on Dec. 10 to commemorate Human Rights Day.
Q. When you joined police?
A. I joined police department in 1992. I really wanted to become police officer and so, like everybody else, I applied to eight different police services to get into this career.
I started my career with London (Ontario) Police Service. Then I moved to Durham Regional Police, and finally I joined York Regional Police. Now since April 1999 and I am with York Regional Police.
Q. Do you think South Asian people should join police?
A. Absolutely! It’s a great and rewarding profession. We always look for people to become police officers. If there is any young male or female I want to let them know that policing is a very rewarding and safe career.
In Canada, especially in Toronto, policing is even safer than taxi drivers because they have dangerous profession than police officers. I encourage them to choose policing as a career.