Jean Lumb at the 1990 Dragon Ball

“As [Jean] said so well herself at the Dragon Ball in 1990, honouring her accomplishments – speaking to an audience of over 1,200 people – “Through the hard work and sacrifices of our forefathers, they have passed on a legacy of loyalty, honour, obedience, and respect. Through education, through the strength of family unity, and through respect for one another, we, the Chinese Canadians, have inherited a broad and firm foundation as good responsible citizens. I am proud, I am very happy, to be a Canadian.”

Sitting in her home, the walls covered with family pictures, Jean recalls, “The most important thing that my father left with me was his love for people, especially family. He used to say to me, ‘Jean, no matter what happens, always go to your family first. Your family is the most important thing. You may have friends, you may have people with other interests, but you’ll find that it is your family that counts.'”

Even though the importance of family is a strong Chinese tradition, Jean believes that it does not matter about one’s background. To her, “a family is a family”. During all her years of community work, she remembers, “If I didn’t have the family behind me, I really couldn’t have done it. Because if your family isn’t with you, beside you always, you really can’t do anything. And if your family is strong, this will make our country strong too!”

Excerpted from Spirit of the Dragon by Arlene Chan, published by Umbrella Press. Copyright © 1997 by Arlene Chan

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