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Painted Faces on the Prairies

Cantonese Opera and the Edmonton Chinese Community

Helen Kwan Yee Cheung, Curator

Canadian Studies, Music

Published: January 2015
ISBN: 9781551953380
Pages: 96 Size: 11x8
Illustrations: 140

This exhibition catalogue traces more than one hundred years of Cantonese opera in Edmonton within the changing dynamics of Edmonton’s Chinese community. It tells a story of life experiences on the Prairies by highlighting the inextricable relationship between Cantonese opera and the city’s Chinese community as this cultural practice moves deftly through historical periods between 1890 and 2009. This period has been selected to coincide with the arrival of the first Chinese in Edmonton in 1890 and the inscription of Cantonese opera onto the Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2009. The text brings to life many stories of the struggles and successes of the Chinese in Edmonton, highlighting their resiliency and love of life through the cultural practice of Cantonese opera.

Helen Kwan Yee Cheung completed her Master of Arts in East Asian Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Alberta in 2013. A long-time resident of Edmonton, her passionate involvement in Cantonese opera and her community connections allowed her to collect the life experiences and stories shared through this exhibition.