Samuel and Nathan Tsai perform a lion dance as part of the Chinese New Year celebration put on at the Alberni Athletic Hall by the Chinese Canadian Society on Sunday.

Samuel and Nathan Tsai perform a lion dance as part of the Chinese New Year celebration put on at the Alberni Athletic Hall by the Chinese Canadian Society on Sunday.

Chinese society rings in the new year

The Port Alberni Chinese Canadian Society held a Chinese New Year celebration at the Alberni Athletic Hall on Sunday.

The Port Alberni Chinese Canadian Society held a Chinese New Year celebration at the Alberni Athletic Hall on Sunday.

The celebration began with firecrackers, a tradition that comes from “baozhu,” or exploding bamboo. The loud noise is meant to scare away evil spirits.

Dancers Samuel and Nathan Tsai, as well as coach Kim Tram, then put on a ceremonial lion dance to welcome in good luck.

After the dance, Warren Lee and some of his students from Dragon Martial Arts Academy put on a Tae Kwon Do demonstration for the audience.

The celebration ended with a feast, while the Chinese Canadian Society made donations to a number of local societies and organizations including the Athletic Hall, the Ty Watson House, the West Coast General Hospital Foundation, the NeighbourLink Society, the Community Arts Council, the Salvation Army and the Bread of Life.

The Port Alberni Chinese Canadian Society started with a group of local interested Chinese-Canadians in the 1960s who set up a scholarship for high school students, according to long-time member Shiu Fai Chan.

“We did some fundraising,” he said. “Slowly we gained more and more of a social aspect of the club.”

The society bought a building downtown, where they held social events and activities. As older members passed away, retired and moved to larger communities like Vancouver, membership went down, and maintenance of the building got so high that the society finally sold it.

“Our expense is less ever since we sold the building,” said Chan. “We still give out the scholarship every year.”

The Chinese Canadian Society previously held their Chinese New Year events at the Italian Hall, before moving to the Athletic Hall, which allows them to hold events at a discounted rate.

The society holds a number of fundraisers over the year, including a major one during the Fall Fair, and donates back to organizations and societies in the community.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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