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Inspiring Oxen Figures

There is something magical about the beginning of a new year!

For some, it offers an exciting opportunity for a fresh start while for others it’s a time to look back and reminisce about past accomplishments and acknowledge all those who, in their own way, encouraged them to dream big.

In addition to twelve animals, the Chinese Zodiac also cycles through five elemental types (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water). 2021 is not only the Year of the Ox, it is the Year of the Metal Ox: one that promises to be a year of endurance and all about anchoring ourselves and fulfilling our dreams.

History is full of people who embodied some of the distinctive qualities of this animal and who were known for their remarkable contributions in areas ranging from art to activism to politics and social justice.

Many people born in the Year of the Ox impress with their endurance, honesty and diligence. When making decisions, they remain steadfast to the end, not afraid of hardships along the way. Sure of themselves and not easily swayed by the whims of others, Oxen are peace lovers, and treat people fairly.

Judy Fong Bates

“telling the story that validates their (her parents) lives, their sacrifices. My parents are part of Canada, their story must not disappear” Judy Fong Bates

We see the best of the Ox in the amazing lives of Judy Fong Bates and Chan Ka Nin. Born in 1949, both are immigrants and extraordinary artists! While Fong Bates, who spoke very little English upon arriving in Canada in 1955, discovered school as her gateway to becoming an accomplished and celebrated modern storyteller, Professor Chan is one of the most unique and award-winning Canadian composers and music educators.

Frank Lee

Despite racial discrimination that Chinese people faced from the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act to segregation in cinemas, public swimming pools and some school districts, many served in the Canadian Armed Forces during WWII.  Returning from the war, these heroes hoped their service would hasten the repeal of the Exclusion Act and win them the right to vote. Among these brave and patriotic veterans were three proud Oxen, all born in 1925: Alexander Shukee Louie, Dick Lam and Frank Lee.

With a career that spanned more than six decades, Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, who overcame tuberculosis in 1932 at the age of 7, persisted at practising scales and classical études to become one of history’s great jazz pianists.



Jean Augustine

“I was an educator. I recognized that the classroom curriculum was saying very little about African Canadians. The same thing was done to Indigenous peoples — if there was any reference, it was either in the footnote or as a sideline. Black Canadians were not part of the script and were not shown contributing to Canadian society.” Jean Augustine

In 1937, Fire Ox Jean Augustine, first Black female MP and Cabinet minister, social justice advocate, teacher, and school principal was born in Grenada. Enthusiastic, intelligent and charismatic, she played a crucial role in establishing Black History Month in Canada.

Every end marks a new beginning. Much like these exceptional people, keep your spirits positive and your determination fierce!

A New Year is like a blank book, and the pen is in your hands. It is your chance to write a beautiful story for yourself.

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