BY AUSTIN YEH | PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATE DOCKERAY |
OCTOBER 22, 2020
Growing up in Scarborough, my family didn’t have a lot of money. Both of my parents are Chinese immigrants who grew up in India. My dad dropped out of sixth grade and worked in a kitchen to support his parents and four siblings. When he moved to Toronto in the 1970s to be closer to friends, he worked in coffee shops and delivered for Pizza Pizza.
My mom came to Toronto a few years later, in search of better opportunities. She scraped by working as a labourer in a warehouse. In the 1980s, my parents met through mutual friends. They had my sister, Angel, a couple years later and purchased a four-bed, one-bath house in Scarborough for approximately $90,000. I was born in 1995.
As a family, we bonded on road trips, mostly to visit churches in Midland and Buffalo, because my mother practises Catholicism. These trips are some of my favourite memories. But finances were always a concern. We plotted our road trips based on which gas stations along the way had the best prices, scoured flyers in search of coupons, purchased oversized T-shirts to grow into. It always seemed like the things I wanted to buy were just out of reach. I dreamed of growing up to be a doctor or dentist, because then I would never have to worry about money. I could have whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.