CCNCTO’s Research Agenda

Below are the core areas of research interests of the CCNCTO followed by a short list of additional topics of interest. This list is not meant to be exhaustive. It is indicative.  Consultation (particularly at early stages in research design) is encouraged in the case of fleshing out ideas that may align with CCNCTO agenda but which are not necessarily listed here.


Raising public awareness of the history of Chinese diaspora in Canada has been an important part of CCNCTO’s programming and advocacy work. While working towards instilling knowledge of Chinese Canadian history in our own community, we also want to see changes in education curriculum, equitable hiring practices and pedagogical approaches to teaching diverse populations.  

•    How does an increased understanding of one’s own history (Chinese Canadian history) affect identity formation and civic participation?
•    How is Chinese and Asian Canadian history being represented in school curricula, libraries, events, etc?
•    How does having a teacher that reflects a student’s ethnic background affect learning outcomes and identity formation?  
•    Within the Asian Canadian community, how can we explain the gap between the value of education and the value of entering the teaching profession?
•    Despite a more diversified pool of teacher candidates, who gets hired? What challenges arise for internationally trained teachers?
•    What are the best practices for integrating and providing support for teachers with international qualifications and experience?
•    Is there a bias towards hiring teachers of a certain profile (i.e. ethnicity, experience, language fluency)? How are biases affected by the ethnicity of those doing the hiring?
•    While some parents choose to send their children to schools with a lower percentage of racialized students or to participate in French immersion, how does this type of environment affect a racialized students’ identity, mental health and performance?  
•    What are some best practices for student and community engagement? How can community organizations collaborate with education systems to encourage civic participation?  
•    What kind of difficulties or challenges in learning arise for racialized students who must deal with having ‘dual’ identities? (e.g. Chinese Canadian, African Canadian, etc.)  How can education practices acknowledge and address these challenges?


The topic of employment and labour rights was especially popular at our research meeting. The main focus was on working conditions and issues regarding difficulty finding employment for new immigrants. In July 2010, CCNCTO also conducted a survey amongst 119 Chinese workers to find out that 66% were unaware of overtime and holiday pay and four out of 10 people did not know about the minimum wage or that they are protected by labour laws even without a written employment contract.

•    What are the employment patterns of Chinese Canadians? Has there been a shift? (E.g. across generations, or across political markers such as 1997)
•    How can we identify, document and address workplace safety and health issues of Chinese workers?  (particularly newcomers with limited English language skills)
•    How are employment issues among skilled immigrants being addressed? (E.g. unrecognized credentials, requirement of ‘Canadian experience’)
•    How can settlement policies and programs provide training to help Chinese immigrants get better jobs, in light of sectorization? How do employment rights and working conditions differ along gender lines?
•    Are Chinese workers participating in unions? What is the general sentiment of Chinese workers towards unions?
•    How can the under-representation of Chinese professionals in companies and other agencies be addressed? In what fields are Chinese workers experiencing the greatest barriers to promotion?
•    What is the gap between academic and professional achievements? How does employment equity legislation impact outcomes? (i.e. banking vs. unregulated sectors)


Engagement at CCNCTO has come to mean the inclusive civic engagement of Chinese Canadians living in Toronto. In our outreach and programming, we have interacted and worked with populations including youth from ages 14 to 30, parents, women, workers and seniors. Projects and events in the past have included voter education sessions, a senior peer research study and high school youth-led projects to raise awareness about the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act.

•    How are interests in community or political engagement of the Chinese community segmented according to demographics (e.g. language – Mandarin/Cantonese, workers, business people, professionals)?
•    How can we develop leadership training grounded in the history and current realities experienced by Chinese Canadians (our community)?
•    How can a community’s capacity or voice be developed through civic engagement?
•    What are some barriers to involvement? (E.g. language, cultural perceptions, accessibility)
•    How can we address or overcome barriers to involvement to encourage leadership, especially in the political arena?
•    How have Chinese Canadians (especially youth) been involved in political issues? What programs are there to scaffold Chinese Canadian youth into political engagement?
•    What is the role of teachers, parents and peers on youth when it comes to civic engagement in the Chinese Canadian community?
•    What are “best practices” for civic engagement? How do such community/civic engagement benefit individuals or the community? What are some longitudinal impacts of civic engagement programs for Chinese Canadians?
•    How does gender factor into civic engagement? Is there a difference in interests and assumed roles?
•    Are newcomer volunteers being exploited at the expense of gaining “Canadian experience?”

Generation Gap

Another topic that came about related to the diversity of the Chinese Canadian population in Toronto was the generational differences, gaps and similarities between 1st, 1.5 and 2nd generation Chinese Canadians.

•    What is the role of language or how does language operate in inter-generational communication or groups from different origins? (e.g. China, Taiwan, other Chinese diaspora)
•    How can we look at the generation and cultural gaps within the Chinese Canadian population?
•    What are the specific/general difficulties in learning Chinese as a second language for 1.5 and 2nd generation Chinese Canadians?
•    At what point or generation does a member of the Chinese diaspora in Canada ‘feel’ Canadian?
•    How does the generation/culture/language gap affect family dynamics, roles, etc.?


Most of our discussion related to health pertained to the stigma around mental health in the Chinese Canadian community.

•    What is the role or potential of Chinese medicine in achieving community health?
•    How is the practice of Chinese medicine being standardized and accepted by Western models of medicine?
•    What are the best practices for regulating Traditional Chinese Medicine or acupuncture?
•    What are the difficulties and barriers in accessing mental health services for Chinese immigrants?
•    What are our communities’ needs for services related to mental health?
•    What are the best practices for public education on mental health?
•    What are some cultural perceptions of ‘traditional’ therapy techniques such as talk therapy? Are there therapies that are more or less accepted as treatment?
•    How can service capacities be improved by providing more culturally appropriate services?
•    How do addressing cultural differences in approaches to health affect outcomes?  
•    What public education programs exist to raise awareness about workplace health and safety concerns for workers?


“Identity” was voted as the top research priority during our July 2010 meeting. Issues discussed included conflict within and between ethnic groups in Toronto, unity within the Chinese community in the GTA and the impact of the Sino-Canada relationship on the Chinese Canadian community.

•    How are Chinese Canadian identities negotiated and talked about within the community?
•    How are youth facilitating intergroup dialogue within a Canadian context?
•    Can a lack of unity within the Chinese community affect integration?
•    How does social justice work relate to identify formation and struggle?
•    How does knowledge or learning about Chinese Canadian history:
-    Impact integration and sense of belonging in Canada?
-    Strengthen individual and community identity?


From Chinese to mainstream media, our participants brought up concerns about the role of various forms of media in Canada in promoting narratives of integration and Chinese as ‘perpetual foreigners.’ Other questions included the role of media in promoting civic engagement through raising awareness on social and political issues. At CCNCTO, discussions have also included the diversity of newsrooms and the sensitivity of journalists in covering so-called ‘ethnic’ issues in mainstream media.

•    How can we strengthen connections between Chinese media and the local/mainstream community? (E.g. With community agencies, across media outlets and mediums)
•    How to strengthen Chinese media connections, e.g. within their own, with external agencies, etc.
•    How does the popularity of Chinese and/or ethnic media vary amongst generations/age groups and on a geographical level? (E.g. Who is reading what and why?)
•    What is the role and responsibility of Chinese media in increasing civic engagement?
•    How does Chinese and other ethnic media relate to mainstream media? Does a relationship exist?
•    What are some trends and patterns in how the Chinese and China are portrayed in mainstream media? (E.g. Explore instances of media bias and discrimination)
•    How have Asians and other visible minority groups been depicted as ‘perpetual foreigners’ in the media? How does this affect our community?
•    How has online media been used as a medium for transnational dialogue?
•    Is there a bias in news presented by Chinese media (international vs. local news)? How does this affect the local Chinese community?  
•    What is the role of Chinese media in promoting integration?
•    How can mainstream media be held accountable for publishing offensive material?
•    What is the responsibility of ethnic and mainstream media in promoting human rights?
•    How is online media being used by the Chinese community? How can we more effectively use different types of media such as online, social and alternative media? In what ways has social media and alternative media been utilized in Chinese/Asian Canadian activism?

Other Topics

•    Patterns and growth of Chinese communities in Canada: What are the challenges and best practices?
•    How have Pan-Asian communities worked together? How do these groups interact?
•    What type of connection or disconnect do Chinese Canadian youth feel towards other youth? (E.g. Chinese newcomers, non-Chinese Canadians, other youth of colour)
•    What kind of identity struggles do immigrant youth go through in Canada?
•    After three years of “settlement”, as defined by the government, what is the actual integration of Chinese into Canadian society?
•    How can we collectively maintain our cultural history? (e.g. Chinatown preservation)
•    Can we look at the Chinese Canadian community through a diversified lens? (e.g. women’s rights, religious diversity, linguistic diversity)
•    What is the role of community organizations in working towards better relationships between police and community?
•    How can research partnerships between universities and the CCNCTO be documented and studied in and of themselves, so as to hone the methodology for and best-practice descriptions of university-community knowledge mobilization endeavours?

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