The first shipment of 192 Chinese immigrants arrived in Trinidad on a ship named Fortitude on October 12, 1806.And although it has been 205 years since they first arrived, the Chinese immigrants who work in Trinidad have continued to display fortitude in the face of modern-day exploitation.Though the experiment of Chinese labour failed during slavery, the Chinese immigrants forged their legacy and became successful butchers, shopkeepers, carpenters and market gardeners. They brought with them their customs, traditions, games, religion and artifacts.After slavery was abolished, the second wave of immigrants arrived from the southern Guangdong province: an area comprising Macao, Hong Kong and Canton to work as indentured labourers between 1853 and 1866.
This was followed by the third wave of Chinese immigration, which occurred between the 1920s and 1940s. At that time, earlier migrants brought in family and friends from China, who became successful merchants, peddlers, traders and shopkeepers.By the 1970s, when China started opening up to the outside world, migration resumed once more, resulting in the fourth wave of Chinese immigration.Maria Lee, the founder of the Chinese Arts and Culture Society was among those who came in the fourth wave. Lee said when she first arrived, they set up a shop in San Fernando."I always want the country to get better and better... I bring back thing from China and all the local people buy it," she said.
She explained that it took her almost three decades to establish Sincere's Food Manufacturing Company, which manufactures a range of Chinese seasoning, peanut oil, rice cooking wine, deep fry batter and Chow Mein Noodles.Since she came, Lee has taught more than 2,000 people to cook Chinese dishes."I teach them for free...They have to buy the ingredients and I teach them," Lee said.Although she is 66 years old, Lee said she planned to introduce new agriculture techniques in T&T."In China, we don't waste nothing...I want to buy machine which will make fertiliser," she said."We go to all the chicken farm, pig farm in Erin and manure from all toilets in countryside and get the waste and process it into small pellets of natural fertilizer."
The petite businesswoman also trains locals to do the Chinese dragon dance, the fan and ribbon dance, as well as Kung Fu.While many locals are fascinated by these skills, Lee said people in China were drawn to T&T's climate where anything could grow all year."In China, we have four seasons so we cannot plant, but I buy land in Arima and Wallerfield and I plant ginger," she said.Lee's daughter Helen said people in T&T could benefit if they adopted the positive work ethics of the Chinese people.She noted that in China it was common for people to be seen standing on the roadside selling their body parts to get money to help ailing family members."It is a hard life out there...People in Trinidad just do not realise how lucky they are," Helen said.
Another fourth wave immigrant who requested anonymity said the new batch of immigrants who were coming to T&T shores, might not have the good work ethics of the earlier migrants."There are good ones and there are bad ones," she said."There are some of us who want to build this country which we now call home...And there are bad ones who come for quick money and to do bad bad things."Asked to elaborate, she responded: "I am a Buddhist, I cannot repeat the bad things. That is their business."However, speculation is rife that Chinese immigrants are involved in illicit activities such as prostitution, gambling and trafficking.All transactions are done in cash and are kept within a tight circle of customers.
How to get citizenship
A Citizen of the British Commonwealth or Republic of Ireland who holds resident status in Trinidad and Tobago for a minimum of 5 years may apply to the Minister of National Security to be registered as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago.
An application form is obtained from the Ministry of National Security at a fee of $0.29.
An application is submitted to the Ministry of National Security on the prescribed Form 7, three original forms, and is subject to the approval of the minister.
A Certificate of Citizenship (Form 9) is granted on approval of the application.
An application is submitted to the Ministry of National Security on the prescribed Form 7, three original forms, and is subject to the approval of the Minister.
Citizenship by Registration Fee
(1) Application fee- $100
(2) Certificate fee- $840