Huynh from Hazelton wins Gold for Canada
Anyone out there regularly follow women’s wrestling? Ah, me neither. But this weekend, as a determined non-Olympics watcher (gasp), I was lured to live streaming on the internet to see “the little dynamo” (e.g. the incredibly strong supple) Carol Huynh from Hazelton, BC win big.
As everyone now knows, Huynh, 27, won Canada’s first gold medal this summer in the 48-kilogram freestyle (did i get that right? Somebody please send in stats!)
Carol Huynh’s story is one tailored made for this column: born and bred in Canada, she paid tribute to her home town, her family and her country : “I was just thinking how proud I am to be Canadian and just thinking about the road to how I got here.” Her parents fled Vietnam in the 1970’s. Huynh’s mother, according to press reports, was born in Vietnam and her father, in China. They met in Ho Chi Minh City and like so many Vietnamese in Canada, came here sponsored by a local Hazelton United Church group.
Carol’s story resonates: a woman, working hard, not giving up: she was a bronze medalist at the 2005 world championships and “stayed with the sport after failing to qualify” for the 2004 Olympics. Okay, I admit, somewhat sheepishly, that her personal story – an asian woman totally embracing “Canada,” and her parents – “they did everything” – waitress, marketer, dock worker, sawmill worker – impressed and motivated me to put on a happy face, darn it! (there’s a set of questions, i think, to be raised about how we define “good” immigrants and um, “not so good” and how the quality of gratitude, and the need to adhere to certain standards – e.g. “hard work” – plays a big part in how “the other” gets defined.)
Huynh’s win defeated three time world champion “Icho”. Check out various news sites and their comment sections on reader reaction re: whether we should focus on Huynh as a “Canadian”. Period. Or as a “Vietnamese-Canadian” success story. I’m eager for reader thoughts…
Little postscript: Hazelton, New Hazelton, and South Hazelton – nestle deep in a majestic valley carved out by the confluence of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers. Woven into the place, for centuries, is the history of the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en peoples – has anyone out there stepped into the ‘Ksan Historical Village and Museum? It’s one of my top ten places to visit in BC. And yes, Hazelton has struggled with social and economic issues, some of them traumatic and severe – but it keeps drawing from its community heritage to embrace both difference and an outward look to the world. Did you know that Hazelton was home to one of Canada’s first “First Nations/French Immersion” programs – where students learned English, Gitxsan and French – how cool is that?