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Feng shui master provides advice for fallen headstones in Calgary’s Chinese cemeteries

Calgary’s Chinese community brought in a feng shui master to help determine if fallen headstones in two city cemeteries should be erected once again.

Jack Yee, president of the United Calgary Chinese Association, said that for years the Chinese portion of Calgary’s Union Cemetery and at Queen’s Park had fallen into disrepair.

Members of the Chinese community didn’t want anything done in the cemetery after the city had widened the entry gate to the area after it initially opened. Yee said after they did that, once one Chinese person died, two others would follow.

“Then the Chinese organization said ‘City, don’t do anything now, because that’s bad,” Yee said.

There are headstones that have toppled over and many that are ready to fall.

After between 30 and 40 years, Yee said the city approached them to see if they wanted to fix up the cemetery areas.

“We had to make a decision whether to continue the standing order or fix them up,” Yee said.

“You have to get the (feng shui) master to make the decision, right? Otherwise, you’d do the wrong thing.”

On Saturday, Yee toured the cemetery with Peter Lau, a feng shui master from Vancouver.

Lau had previously warned former Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi about the bad omen of the head in front of the Bow building in downtown Calgary. After the floods of 2013 and oil prices tanked in 2014, Lau moved from Calgary to Vancouver.

Yee brought him back to help with the Chinese cemetery decision.

Reinstall them, master says

Feng shui is a Chinese practice that claims to use energy forces to bring individuals into harmony with the world around them.

Yee said Lau was brought in to make sure that fixing the headstones was the right thing to do.

“His recommendation is yes. You fix them up… Because the stone is not straight,” Yee said.

“It represents the health of the descendants. They won’t be healthy because it’s just like a person, not straight.”

Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong, said the city is working with the group to help fix things up.

“Having a feng shui master come in and say, ‘this is the right way, we’re setting them up again and have them facing the right direction’ creates a positive energy,’” he said.

The work is not connected to but coincides with the Chinese community’s Qing Ming Festival, which is a time to honour ancestors.

Wong said it’s the 100-year anniversary of the Chinese Immigration Action, something the Chinese community will commemorate later this year. He said many of the people in the cemetery came to Calgary at the turn of the century (1900).

“This being the 100 year commemoration of that, we’re doing this as also an acknowledgment of the people who passed before us,” Wong said.

Yee said they will be contacting the families of those laid to rest at the Chinese cemeteries to ensure that it’s OK to move the stones. 

They will be putting together a team of volunteers, working with the city, and if they can get permission, he said the work could be done this year.