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Signs should use more English, says Chinese society

Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours

All-Chinese signage in Richmond, B.C. (BYRON CHU/ QMI AGENCY)

All-Chinese signage in Richmond, B.C. (BYRON CHU/ QMI AGENCY)

Just because there won’t be a bylaw in Richmond forcing people to use English on their business signs doesn’t mean the spirit of the idea is dead. Whether the sign says “Eat at Joes,” “Chi zai Joe’s” or “Hai Joe’s gor doh sic,” some Richmond community leaders say they intend to encourage businesses to consider all cultures when creating signage.

Earlier this week city council decided to only receive a petition with 1,000 signatures put forth by two women asking for a bylaw dictating all signs in Richmond include English.

The pair are concerned there are too many signs in the city without English, excluding non-Chinese residents. Council didn’t agree and merely filed the document without further discussion.

Richmond Chinese Community Society executive director Henry Beh said even without a law, he hopes to encourage Chinese businesses to use English on their signs.

“I wish to see no friction,” Beh said. “I want to have community harmony, hopefully we can educate people on both sides to be tolerant and respect each other.”

Beh said he’s willing to educate business owners on how to become more culturally inclusive — and that’s important, says Richmond Councillor Chak Kwong Au.

“We have more Chinese immigrants coming from the China mainland so they bring in different business practices and they might be less sensitive to this language issue,” said Au. “They may not have the background to understand the sensitivity of this issue.”

He said council’s decision to not further investigate the issue is a missed opportunity to have an open discussion. Au said he isn’t yet sure how to continue promoting bilingual signs in the city, but he intends to find a way to encourage business owners to appeal to everyone.


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