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NOTL kids try tai chi for Chinese New Year
Greta Sobol looks up the length of a collapsable sword as her peers close in for a closer look. EVAN LOREE
Molly Yep demonstrates a form of tai chi with a sword. EVAN LOREE
Zuza Bator practices tai chi with about 20 other kids at the NOTL Youth Collective. EVAN LOREE
Dorothy Soo Wiens shares the traditions of China with NOTL's youth. EVAN LOREE

Lunar New Year was a big draw for the NOTL Youth Collective on Monday night.

Almost 20 kids came out to the old Cornerstone Church location on Niagara Stone Road to learn about the annual Chinese New Year celebration.

Those who made the trip got to try out the Chinese martial art of tai chi and taste some homemade Chinese cooking as well.

Dorothy Soo-Wiens, one of the collective’s volunteers, came up with the idea to teach kids in Niagara-on-the-Lake about the Lunar New Year, often referred to as Chinese New Year.

“I think when we find out and are educated about other people – other cultures – we put more value on who they are as people,” she told The Lake Report.

The celebration of the first new moon of the year is observed by multiple nations and cultures that follow either a lunar or lunisolar calendar, including in East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Soo-Wiens said people in China get eight days of holiday to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which lasts 15 days in total.

This year, following the lunisolar calendar, it began on Feb. 10.

“I know in China, all the cities, all the big cities, they empty out because everyone’s going back to their home villages,” she said.

Soo-Wiens, who was born to Chinese and Malaysian parents before moving to Canada when she was three, said there is value in learning about other cultures.

“There’s not a lot of Asians in our community,” she said. “It’s a very white, white community.”

Molly Yep, a tai chi instructor with about 15 years of experience, led the kids in a demonstration at the start of the evening. 

Tai chi is mostly used as a form of exercise, Yep told the group, but has its origins in martial arts.

“I just learned tai chi for health and healing and exercise,” Yep told The Lake Report. 

Yep is also Soo-Wiens’ instructor and said when her student asked her to show it to the kids at the youth collective, she couldn’t say no.

“They were following really, really well,” Yep said of the young participants at the Lunar New Year celebration.

Yep also gave a sword routine demonstration . 

Following that, the kids got to sample some Chinese dumplings and noodle dishes, cooked by Soo-Wiens and her friend Lena Gemmrich.

Each person in attendance received a “hongbao,” a gift of money shared in a red envelope, Soo-Wiens said.

It’s traditional in Chinese culture to gift people with hongbao on special occasions and holidays.


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