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Ah-De and Da-Zi's Story

Ah-De and Da-Zi are frontline workers at a grocery store

Interview and story written with Jessie Tang

Illustration by Xue Xu. @ yumigou_

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In 2017, Ah-De and his wife, Da-Zi arrived in Canada on a visitor’s visa to visit their son and grandchildren. Ah-De’s son and daughter-in-law were often busy at work, so he and his wife offered to help raise the children. However, it wasn’t long before differences in parenting style emerged between the young parents and the older generation, so Ah-De and his wife stopped spending as much time with the children.


Living in Toronto was also expensive; necessities such as housing, property tax, and car insurance cost much more than it did back in China. As visitors, Ah-De and Da-Zi were also unable to receive a pension, so they had decided to search for employment.


















In China, Ah-De and Da-Zi worked as street cleaners, earning 10,000RMB a month. In Canada, the supermarket Ah-De has worked at for over four years pays $2000 a month for six days of work a week. Without immigration status allowing the work in Canada and with their age, they could only find work as cleaners, earning less than $100 a day for ten hours of work. Though the pay wasn’t good, Ah-De and his wife liked working, since they felt it helped them stave off boredom and integrate into this new country. When asked about the biggest adjustment they had to make in Canada, Ah-De gestured to the deserted road and replied that there were never any people on the streets.

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Ah-De riding his bike outside of his 


During the pandemic, Ah-De referred Da-Zi to a job at the supermarket because they were short-staffed. However, as the pandemic started easing, the manager started criticizing her work. After three months of hard work during the peak of the pandemic, Da-Zi was replaced by another employee.She felt taken advantage of, as the two of them had worked as hard as three people. Although she disputed her termination with the manager to the best of her ability, nothing came from it. When I asked Ah-De about his thoughts on this, he said this wasn’t a fight they could win. As newcomers without any other options, they had to take what jobs they could get.



















Ah-De said that in China, things would be different. He would ensure that there was a legitimate fault and seek to improve on his errors. The manager has been satisfied with his work so far, he added, because he takes his work seriously, and is quite handy. Though Ah-De believes in the strength of his immune system, which he attributes to his military service, he is concerned about the people who refuse to wear masks inside the store. 

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Ah-De and Da-Zi walking together holding hands, with their 

backs towards the camera in a residential neighbourhood. 

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