Calgary football pioneer Norman Kwong to be remembered in new Heritage Minute

Calgary football pioneer Norman Kwong to be remembered in new Heritage Minute

The life and legacy of Calgary’s Norman Kwong are the main focus of a brand new Heritage Minute documentary, 75 years after he turned the primary Chinese language Canadian skilled soccer participant. 

After profitable 4 Gray Cups with the Stampeders and Edmonton, Kwong turned Alberta’s sixteenth lieutenant-governor — the primary of Chinese language heritage. 

The quick movie will discover the racism Kwong confronted in his youth, with actors recreating the 1955 championship recreation by which Kwong ran for 2 touchdowns. It’s anticipated to be launched in February, 2024.

Kwong’s oldest son Greg stated spending time on the movie set throughout manufacturing this week made him emotional. 

Actor Patrick Kwok-Choon is taking part in Kwong in a recreation for the documentary. He stated he feels a deep connection to the character. (David Mercer/CBC)

“As a child, all I’ve ever seen is black and white movie, black and white footage … it was simply as if I used to be thrown again in time,” he stated. 

“I’m not a crier. But it surely simply hit proper right here, and simply the whole lot got here out.”

Every Heritage Minute, produced by non-profit Historica Canada, is a 60-second quick movie that depicts an individual, occasion or story from Canadian historical past.

Earlier mini-docs within the collection embrace a profile of Joseph Tyrrell, who found dinosaur bones within the Alberta Badlands, and the city of Myrnam, Alberta’s non-denominational hospital, described as “an early effort at common healthcare.”

Kwong's Edmonton Eskimos defeated my grandfather Tex Coulter's Montreal Alouettes in the 1955 Grey Cup. Film crews are recreating the game for the Heritage Minute video.
Norman Kwong’s Edmonton group defeated the Montreal Alouettes within the Gray Cup closing in 1955. Movie crews are recreating that recreation for the Heritage Minute video. (Canadian Broadcasting Company)

Historica Canada president and CEO Anthony Wilson-Smith stated the movies sometimes attain eight or 9 million viewers inside a month of launch.

“We like to inform tales about individuals and occasions who, in a technique or one other, assist form the Canada by which we reside at the moment,” he stated.

“Normie Kwong did that, in fact, in breaking via some boundaries and establishing a reputation.”

Kwong’s dad and mom immigrated to Canada from southeast China, finally settling in Calgary, the place they opened a small grocery store. 

He debuted in Canadian skilled soccer for the Calgary Stampeders in 1948, one 12 months after the Chinese language Exclusion Act was repealed.

Earlier than the coverage was scrapped, Chinese language immigrants usually confronted segregation from different Canadians, per the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

“My father was at all times one which stated ‘Hear, let’s simply be individuals, let’s give individuals credit score the place credit score is due. Who cares what pores and skin color is,’” stated Kwong’s son, Greg.

“He simply needed individuals to be equal. He simply needed to be a man from Bridgeland in Calgary taking part in soccer.”

Greg additionally stated his father was known as names and bought into fights at college due to his Chinese language heritage. 

Actor Patrick Kwok-Choon is taking part in Kwong within the recreation. 

Kwok-Choon, recognized for his position within the Star Trek: Discovery tv collection, stated he acknowledges similarities between his upbringing and that of his character. 

“My dad and mom immigrated to Canada. Our ancestors are from the identical province in China,” he stated. “I confronted plenty of racial slurs, adversity rising up, so I do know what he lived via.”

Kwong was named to the Order of Canada in 1998. 

He was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Corridor of Fame in 1969, and remains to be Edmonton’s all-time chief in dashing touchdowns. 

Greg hopes latest immigrants will watch the movie and recognize life in Canada.

“Work exhausting, be an excellent citizen, contribute to society, and issues will play out,” he stated. “You won’t make the CFL Corridor of Fame, however [Canada is] a fantastic place to be relative to different nations.”

The movie is being co-produced by Brent Kawchuck and Michelle Wong of Calgary’s Danny Rocket Productions.

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