Ms. Shao Jing Fang
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Ms. Shao Jing Fang

In celebration of Asian Heritage Month in Canada, a time to reflect on and celebrate the contributions that Canadians of Asian origin continue to make, to the growth and prosperity of Canada, we share with you the latest story in our series of stories called " Faces of the Folk Arts ".

Meet Ms. Shao Jing Fang, Ms. Mei Jin Zhu, Ms. Yan Huang, and Ms. Xiu Ying Zhang.

These 4 women immigrated to Canada within the last decade and came to our Centre seeking settlement services soon after their arrival. Each woman brought to Canada unique talents and skills, and each was highly motivated and determined to succeed in Canada.

Our Settlement counsellor Ling Wang recognized their needs as well as their talents and resources, and encouraged them to pursue their dreams. The clients became involved with our Centre and found “community” here.

These 4 women lived in different provinces of China and never met each other prior to arriving in Canada.

They became friends thanks to a shared hobby and interest - dancing. For them, many good memories flowed from their practice sessions and formal public performances, including years of Niagara Folk Arts Festivals and numerous multicultural celebrations.

But since the COVID-19 pandemic, everything was paused in keeping with government social distancing requirements.

The ladies we are honoring have all been part of a social media group, sharing videos and links to beautiful and artistic performances in order to inspire each other. Understanding that many dance pals could feel frustrated and become inactive at home, Ms. Fang took the lead in figuring out how to use the ZOOM platform to create a virtual dance studio for their peers to continue dancing together to keep physically active.

The virtual dance studio was launched in mid April (2020). Sessions are held for the members of the dance group every evening from Monday to Friday.

The sense of belonging never feels so strong and it is a true reflection of “Caring for Yourself & Your Community during a Crisis”. It is so encouraging to see Canadian Citizens and Newcomers, younger people and seniors, a settlement front-line worker and clients strive together to adapt to the current challenges. Their passion and resilience during difficult times are amazing and worthy of respect.

Newcomers need services to become settled in, and involved with their new community. However, clients’ combined skills, collective diligence, and a never-give-up spirit are so much a part of realizing that objective.

Our admiration goes out to individuals who can dance through the current crisis, believing that, no matter how long the winter is, the flowers of spring will follow.


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