Celebration of family connections crosses cultures

Family Day gets Victoria families thinking about the different traditions they celebrate with each other.

Every family and culture has their own traditions and celebrations that make them unique – memories that family members only share with each other.

Growing up in Victoria, Daniel Low remembers going to Chinatown every Sunday with his parents and two older sisters.

“I remember, once a week, my Dad would buy me a Chinese comic book, and I could buy a Chinese juice-box. It was my treat, every Sunday,” said Low. “And Mom would be in Chinatown picking up groceries for the night.”

Nowadays, Low, 35, still saves Sundays for family time with his wife and two children, ages five and two.

“It’s usually the going-out day,” said Low.

In Low’s family, Chinese New Year is a big part of family celebrations.

“Traditionally [for] Chinese New Year, you go visit other families and then you bring gifts,” he said, adding many of his extended family members live in Victoria. “The aunts and uncles would always have money prepared for us in the little red envelopes.”

In addition to special meals on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, Low takes his family to the Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown.

“My dad would always bring me, so now I always bring my [kids].”

Regular family get-togethers at Meena Hira’s house involve not only her parents and three younger siblings, but also aunts, uncles, cousins and more.

Most recently, Hira, 23, and her family celebrated Lohri, a Punjabi festival signifying the end of winter.

“We all get together with family and friends, and we usually light a bonfire and have food and sweets,” said Hira, adding they also celebtrate with dancing. “It’s a big party.”

In addition to big festival celebrations such as Lohri and Diwali, Hira and her extended family also get together often for dinners and birthdays.

“We usually go to one of our houses and invite everybody over,” said Hira. “The family extends very far, and we all stay connected; it’s very important in the culture.”

For members of the First Nations community, family is considered more than just direct relatives, said Edith Loring-Kuhanga, who is from B.C.’s Gitxsan Nation.

“The extended family is really critical to raising children,” she said. “It’s not just the mother and the dad.”

Loring-Kuhanga, 57, is an example of that, having raised her brother’s three children in addition to her own two children, who are now grown.

Her and her children moved to Victoria in 1984, but she continues to keep her long-standing family traditions alive by going back home at least four times a year.

While there, family members participate in hunting, fishing and trapping, among other activities.

“We try to make sure that some of our kids from the urban setting get out to the territory and continue to practice those things,” said Loring-Kuhanga. “Family is the foundation of our being, and it’s the foundation of our community and of our culture. Without family, then it’s pretty hard to practice any of those things.”