Canadian Consul General to Hong Kong Jeff Nankivell gave a stunning display of his Cantonese, the city’s predominant language, at a National Day reception attended by more than 800 dignitaries on June 28.
The event was held to celebrate Canada’s 151st anniversary of Confederation, which was on July 1.
The packed ballroom burst into an ovation and cheers when the consul started his presentation in fluent Cantonese to showcase Canada as the ultimate destination for tourism, education, immigration and investment.
One of the highlights was when he led the crowd, many of who were other foreign diplomats and businessmen stationed in the city, to chant a slogan on Canadian food in Cantonese, albeit with the help of romanized pinyin (diagrams) to pronounce the many jawbreakers in Cantonese.
Nankivell leads the crowd to chant the watchwords for Canadian food in Cantonese – 好飲 好食 好正 (Good drink, good food, good deal).
Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung hailed the consul’s “impeccable” Cantonese in his address.
Hong Kong-based Canadian singer Janaia Farrell also sang the Chinese national anthem in impressive Mandarin, which would have been heartening to the ear of the deputy commissioner from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, who also attended the event.
Ice hockey teams heading to China
Meanwhile, the consul also announced that Canada’s National Hockey League would soon bring ice hockey to China, with pre-season games between the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames to take place this September in the mainland cities of Shenzhen and Beijing.
The Flames will play host to the Bruins at Shenzhen’s Universiade Sports Center on September 15 and the pair will meet again at Beijing’s Cadillac Arena on Sept 19.
On a somber note, the consul reiterated Canada’s unwavering open- door policy for immigrants and talent, as well as its commitment to free trade and multilateralism at a time when the global economy and trade face the threat of a tariff war.
“We have new programs to make it easier than ever for [international students] to stay in Canada, [to] get a job and have a path to permanent residency and citizenship…
“More than ever we are a welcoming destination for immigration. At a time when in some other parts of the world doors are closing, I’m so pleased to say Canada is moving to the other direction. We are more welcoming than we have been for a couple of generations and we have new programs to allow skilled workers to come to Canada, quickly and easily, to a society that welcomes them and recognizes the value of their contribution as newcomers,” the consul said.
He also noted free-trade deals struck with the European Union and South Korea, and, in regard to the trade stalemate between Canada and the US, he merely noted that “we are working on our North American trading relationship, as I speak, we are working on that.”
Hongkongers still packing for Vancouver
Meanwhile, there has been a spike in the number of Hongkongers heading for Canada. Hong Kong has been the source of one of Canada’s largest overseas communities – over 300,000 are estimated to have obtained Canadian citizenship, though a majority of them still choose to reside in the city.
New applications from Hongkongers seeking to emigrate to Canada jumped 30% to 1,561 last year according to official figures. Some 1,270 of these applicants were admitted as permanent Canadian residents, a record high since Hong Kong’s 1997 handover.
This has triggered fresh concerns that many of the city’s high achievers or well-to-do are leaving because of high living costs, tighter availability of homes, plus a perceived erosion of freedoms. These have all been seen as major “push factors” for people wanting to get out.