Restoring Our Chinatown Pride

Chinatown has long held a special space in my heart and I know the area well. Growing up, I remember our Chinatown as a vibrant place, rich with cultural sights, bustling sidewalks and flourishing shops.

My favourite personal memories with my Dad, Cedric Mah, were of the times we spent exploring Chinatown. He also played an important role in shaping my early beliefs around the importance of service to others. Initially, he was denied the right to join the Royal Canadian Air Force because he was of Chinese descent. Instead, he flew more than 300 missions for the Chinese National Aviation Corp., risking his life to provide support for the famous Flying Tigers and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. 

Cheryll as a child dancing with her father

My dad loved getting to know the owners of the shops, businesses and restaurants that we visited. I happily enjoyed snacking on the White Rabbit candies that shop owners would sneak me and watching women hand-make the dumplings that we’d later eat. 

Dad was treated like a close friend and welcomed as we entered restaurants through their back doors and kitchens. We would stop and talk to the cooks, oohing and awwing over their delicious dishes. Everyone was always incredibly happy to see my Dad. The owner would then lead us into the restaurant to a spot near the staff table where we would sit and review the menu, the things we enjoyed the last time, and visit with the server as they took our order. So many of my favourite childhood memories are from these times, but sadly many of the places we used to visit are no longer in business. 

For the past 20 years, I’ve worked to help small businesses be successful all around the world and to grow our Edmonton economy. I’ve had the benefit of a lot of people helping me and lifting me up along the way. It’s my turn to help now.   

I know that so many community members, organizations and associations have been working and fighting hard to restore Chinatown to a vibrant and welcoming destination in our city. I’m committed as Mayor to supporting their community strategies so that we can help ensure the future success of so many family-owned businesses. 

Specifically, my goals include:

  • Improve the Sense of Safety: Strengthen safety and security in Chinatown to contribute to a strong sense of a vibrant and inclusive place.
  • Celebrate Chinatown as a Destination: Highlight Chinatown as an exciting destination that is treasured by residents and visitors. 
  • Enhance Built Forms and Landmarks: Leverage the buildings, landmarks and streetscapes of Chinatown.

We can do this through the same three pillars that guide all my policies:

  • Place: Creating collective pride in our city
  • Partnerships: We do more when we focus our expertise 
  • Potential: The startup city that creates our future economy

I look forward to seeing Chinatown shine even brighter so that more Edmontonians experience this unique area and the sense of community and culture that so excited me as a child. And I believe together we can build a neighbourhood and A City That Works.