CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005
From Harling Point is a film about identity and inclusion, two forces that split but could simultaneously bind people to each other in life and death. Located in the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Harling Point Cemetery has become more than a rest stop for the Chinese pioneers of Canada. Many who left China to build a life of dignity and wealth never returned home at death. To them, Harling Point has become their refuge, a haven alongside their fellow men. For the living - succeeding generations of Chinese-Canadians - the cemetery is a living memorial of sacrifice to their ancestors. As for the residents of the Oak Bay community of British Columbia, Harling Point has become a two-sided exercise of the human condition, one that elicits misunderstanding and ignorance to justify wrong actions while the other encourages understanding and acceptance of other people's culture. Still, at the core of identity and inclusion lies the notion of home.
Chiu, the film's director, uses the cemetery as a reference point
of place but also of identity politics. Archival photos of Chinese
men, pioneers who lived lives of hardship void of basic civil rights,
are exhibited to trace Harling Point's tumultuous history. Furthermore,
amidst the unfurling tendrils of incense smoke and lit incense sticks,
anecdotes from prominent Chinese are used to illustrate the hardships
of the Chinese in the past. Then, from the present, candid interviews
from two intergenerational Chinese-Canadian women further infuse the
On another level, the film also exposes the consequence of human actions. Harling Point, as a National Heritage Site, attests to the daily struggles of people finding a place to belong whether immigrant or native born. For the Oak Bay residents, Harling Point has become a bittersweet lesson of acceptance. Due to their pursuit to preserve their own interests of home and identity, they have returned much to the Chinese. More than a Chinese cemetery, Harling Point has been transformed into a place of inclusion regardless of race and religion.
From Harling Point is a good addition to any multicultural studies, topic or curriculum. Whether to uncover the history and mistreatment of Chinese immigrants in Canada or to learn more about one's Chinese heritage, this film encompasses and explores the complex subject of identity and inclusion where, at its most basic level, lies the notion of home.
Living near Vancouver, BC, Regina Bandong is an entrepreneur and a freelance writer.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.