Michael’s story is the story of millions of Canadians. It is a story of immigration, a story of perseverance and, ultimately, a story of hope and opportunity.
The Chong family’s Canadian story begins during the Second World War. The eldest son of a Dutch immigrant mother and a Chinese immigrant father, Michael was born in Canada in 1971. His parents’ families were defended and liberated by Canadian troops in the Second World War – his father during the Battle of Hong Kong and his mother’s family during the Liberation of the Netherlands. After the war, his parents left their respective homelands in search of a new life in Canada.
They met in Canada, and weren’t afraid to work hard to build a new life. Michael’s father worked as a lumberjack in British Columbia, counting every dollar to make ends meet and pay his way through university. In the 1950s, his father became one of the first Canadians of Chinese descent to be accepted into a Canadian medical school.
His Early Years
Michael’s parents eventually settled in Wellington County, Ontario, where Michael still lives today with his wife Carrie (née Davidson) and their three young boys. Michael has fond memories of his rural upbringing and recalls the many winter evenings spent playing pond hockey with his childhood friends. His experience as the child of immigrant parents in rural Canada helped shape his perspective on a pan-Canadian identity. He was brought up to understand and appreciate that diversity is what unites and enriches Canada as a country.
At only six years of age, Michael lost his mother in a car accident at a rural intersection while she was on her way to buy groceries. His father remarried and Michael and his three siblings were raised by the couple in a loving home. But in a tragic coincidence, Michael’s father also lost his life in a car accident at the same rural intersection 20 years later. These events had a profound effect on Michael’s life at the time and on the development of his character over the years to come.
The sacrifices made by Michael’s parents instilled in him the value of hard work. The loss of his parents taught him to appreciate every moment. The opportunities offered to his family by Canada inspired in him a love for his country.