07 february 2013

Brossard-Chinatown: web-doc on a unique community near Montreal


Opening graphic of the 5 part web doc, available in Mandarin, French, and English

Around most major Canadian cities, there are often several suburban centres which have grown up around, and just outside the big city itself.

Although they are usually cities in their own rights, with a mayor, municipal services, shopping area, and other community services, they are also known as “bedroom communities”, or place where a large number of people go home to at night after commuting to and from the big city.

In Montreal, there are several such cities both to the north and south of the island itself.

The city of Brossard lies directly south of Montreal, just across the river. But what makes it somewhat different than many other communities, is that of its 82,000 population, one in ten is Chinese.

The interactive web-documentary was produced by Radio-Canada, in collaboration with Radio Canada International.
There are several reasons why Brossard has attracted a large Chinese community. One is that some realtors there started an advertising campaign in Hong Kong around the time of the handover of the island to Communist China, another is that housing is slightly less expensive outside of Montreal than on the island, still another that in the Chinese practice of Feng Shui, Brossard is on “the dragon’s back” making it an attractive location, and according to a real estate agent featured in one of the segments, Chinese clients prefer new homes where no repairs are needed.

(R-C vid grab) One reason Chinese like Brossard, according to realtors, is that there is a preference to buy new houses and Brossard is growing quickly.

The interactive web doc features five vignettes of members of the community, a chef, a mother, the broker, the elders, and a church leader.

(R-C vid-grab) A scene from -the Mother- one of the five vignettes in the interactive web-doc

Although they live in a predominantly French-speaking environment, many do not speak the language well. The community is large enough that there are many services available, including media, in Cantonese or Mandarin, such that they can live their lives quite well without either of the official languages of English or French. Most of the younger generation, born here are fluently bilingual, speaking Mandarin or Cantonese at home but having gone to school in French, or trilingual, using English often

(R-C vid grab) From the segment-The Broker- Top real estate agent Raymond Tsin began with a mostly Chinese clientele

Also interesting that the Christian relgion has become important for many in the community. As religion was banned in China, many find the church a place of comfort as well as an important social centre to meet others in the community and make new friends, as many also say it is difficult to make friends from outside the community. There is also comfort they say, as they have services performed in Mandarin and Cantonese.

NB-web doc with all five vignettes available in Chinese, French and English : HERE

RCI’s Marc Montgomery spoke to Simon Coutu, web journalist for Radio-Canada, who has just completed a 5 part web documentary on this unique community. The document is available in Chinese, French and English
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