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A history of Chinese immigrants encounter with Canadian Protestant missionaries, “His Dominion” and the “Yellow Peril”: Protestant Missions to Chinese Immigrants in Canada, 1859-1967, analyzes the evangelizing activities of missionaries and the role of religion in helping Chinese immigrants affirm their ethnic identity in a climate of cultural conflict.
Jiwu Wang argues that, by working toward a vision of Canada that espoused Anglo-Saxon Protestant values, missionaries inevitably reinforced popular cultural stereotypes about the Chinese and widened the gap between Chinese and Canadian communities. Those immigrants who did embrace the Christian faith felt isolated from their community and their old way of life, but they were still not accepted by mainstream society. Although the missionaries’ goal was to assimilate the Chinese into Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture, it was Chinese religion and cultural values that helped the immigrants maintain their identity and served to protect them from the intrusion of the Protestant missions.
Wang documents the methods used by the missionaries and the responses from the Chinese community, noting the shift in approach that took place in the 1920s, when the clergy began to preach respect for Chinese ways and sought to welcome them into Protestant-Canadian life. Although in the early days of the missions, Chinese Canadians rejected the evangelizing to take what education they could from the missionaries, as time went on and prejudice lessened, they embraced the Christian faith as a way to gain acceptance as Canadians.