Having Coffee with Honourable Mary Ng, The First Chinese Canadian Cabinet Minister

Mary (Left); Me (Right...grinning like an idiot) 

Mary Ng is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Markham-Thornhill & Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion. She is a trailblazer as the first Chinese Canadian cabinet minister.

**Click Below To Listen Now**
And, she is a self-proclaimed fan of my Blog (What What?). Last week, she was out in Vancouver and wanted to meet me. So we had coffee, chatting about our family and our shared hopes and dreams for empowering the future generation of Asian-Canadians.

On our family...

I've written about my struggles with my dad and how I've been working to improve my relationship with him.

I remember reading somewhere that Mary considers her father a feminist. I was intrigued so I asked her to tell me more.

She nods and gives me a wide smile, telling me that her dad has always been supportive of everything she does.

Born in Hong Kong in the 1960's, Mary was her parents' first child. She shares with me that after her birth, family and friends approached her dad, making comments about her gender and voicing their concerns.

Mary then elaborates on this Asian stereotype by sharing a story about her great-uncle who had multiple children but only put his son through university.

Thankfully, her dad was unconcerned about these comments and refused to follow traditional stereotypes. He raised Mary to believe that a girl can achieve anything a boy can.

I could sense the gratitude she felt for her dad through her words of admiration and the shiny facial expression she held as she spoke.

On our common hopes and dreams...

She asked me why I started writing and how this blog came about. I shared with her the meaning of Sum On Sleeve, my passion for writing as a child and keeping a record for my daughter.

I expanded on how I'm trying to raise awareness about topics that never got talked about while growing up as a Chinese-Canadian.

Her eyes lit up as I said the words, "raise awareness." She tells me that politics is something her parents never really talked about.

She reminisces about a time when she was extremely busy and her parents asked what she was working so hard on. After explaining to them all the things she was trying to juggle, their response was neutral, almost indifferent.

Although they are supportive of her career, they have a limited understanding of the value and influence her profession has on the lives of Canadians. She tells me that it's not a lack of knowledge but rather a misconception that Chinese and Asian Canadians have around politics.

She shares an example of how highly influential Asian-Canadians are often involved in philanthropy, donating to universities, senior's centres, hospitals etc. They see meaning and value in providing support directly to the community. However, when it comes to the high-level, policy making, legislature, behind-the-scenes work, they're absent.

She wants to empower Asian-Canadians to embrace the value of politics, emphasizing the importance of having a seat at the table in order to affect change.

Their voices cannot be heard if they are not present to voice them, to contribute their perspectives on history-changing decisions and to represent the lens that they hold as Asian-Canadians.

It's 2018 and we finally have our first Chinese Canadian cabinet minister. It's time for more involvement!

As she spoke, the passion she felt about this was reflected in her vibrant and infectious energy, making me feel inspired and proud to be Canadian.

On some final words of encouragement...

As I drink my last sip of coffee, she tells me that I'm doing something extraordinary, something that is truly a homegrown Canadian endeavour and to keep doing it because it is needed. She wants Asian-Canadians to pursue their dreams.

Somehow that sip tasted sweeter after she said that.

And with that, I'm going to hold onto those wise words of a true Chinese-Canadian trailblazer, close to my heart.

So Readers, what is something you feel passionate about that doesn't get talked about enough in your culture? What are your hopes and dreams for influencing the future?

Let's Socialize...C'mon, You Know You Wanna



  1. ln Malaysia, initially, Chinese were drawn into politics of China when Japan invaded China. When the Japanese invaded Malaya, they punished the Chinese here. Chinese then joined the communist party & fought against the Japanese with the support of the British. British were said to have promised recognition for the communist party as a political party as part of the deal in the fight against the Japanese. But, of course, it never happened. Many Chinese were deported to China on suspicions of being supporters of the communists. The same thing happened in Indonesia under Sukarno. After the double whammy from the Japanese & the British, most Chinese stayed away from politics. But the rise in facism Islam has forced us back into the political arena. Now, we are voicing out about the never-ending malay privileges & facism Islam but the malays say, the first is untouchable & the second, is none of our concern.


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