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偕 “Jie” –– A Family Name of Remembrance and Gratitude

The Taiwanese Canadian Association celebrated its 50h anniversary in late June, 2013. To commemorate the arrival of Canadian doctor George Leslie MacKay and his contribution in education and medicine in Taiwan, a “Life Time Contribution Award” was given. Receiving the award in his place was MacKay’s aging grand-daughter, Margaret MacKay. Margaret was moved to tears and was unable to speak for some time.“I really miss Taiwan,” said Margaret in fluent Taiwanese Hokkien, before once again breaking into tears.

Most Taiwanese indigenous peoples did not have the concept of “surnames,” although there are exceptions due to the cultural or political influences from outside colonial forces. However, there is a popular Chinese surname among a certain communities of the indigenous peoples for which was adopted out of yearning and gratitude, that which would be the Kavalan surname “Jie.” (MacKay, originally translated phonetically, “Ma-gai”, in Hokkien Taiwanese, a dialect widely spoken at the time among the Hoklo Chinese in Taiwan. Ma for “Mac-“, Gai for “–Kay”. Gai was to later become Jie due to the adoption of Mandarin Chinese in Taiwan as its official language. “Gai” and “Jie” share the same Chinese character . ) All of this began with the story of a Canadian pastor, George Leslie MacKay.

 

MacKay’s Encounter with the Kavalan

“There is the tragedy of many savage tribes alike in the East and in the West: the first touch of the civilized man is the touch of death.”

MacKay arrived in Taiwan in 1871, and from 1883 he devoted to mission work on the east coast of Taiwan. Until his death in 1901 in Tamsui , he dedicated much importance to the Lanyang Plain and the Kavalan life. Besides providing medical and dental work to the indigenous people, MacKay was also sympathetic towards the situation of the Kavalan under the encroaching Han Chinese.

Since the invasion of the Lanyang Plan led by Wu Sha in the late 18th century, the territory of the Kavalan was on the decrease. Upon MacKay’s arrival in the 19th century, the Lanyang Plain had become practically a Chinese colony.

MacKay once wrote: “There is the tragedy of many savage tribes alike in the East and in the West: the first touch of the civilized man is the touch of death.” (MacKay 248)

Although MacKay did not encourage the Kavalan to revolt, he strived to improve the education level of the people, and helped them pay rent to the Chinese. While MacKay was in Tamsui, he founded the first all-girls school; it was not only free of tuitions, with food and accommodation also provided. However, Han Chinese families, being loyal to their traditional customs, were reluctant to let the girls to study. The Kavalan on the other hand, were very supportive and would often travel long distances from Yilan to Tamsui to study.

 

To Memorize MacKay with the name of “Jie”

“The memories of the MacKays are fleeting in Taiwan. The Kavalan, however, have forever engraved their gratitude for Pastor MacKay in their adopted surname.”

To commemorate the contributions MacKay had on the indigenous people, many Kavalan decided to adopt the last name Jie. Jie Wan-Lai, a Kavalan who waged a 15-year battle with the government campaigning to have the indigenous people officially acknowledged, was one among many.

Pastor McKay’s children and grandchildren were all born in Taiwan, have worked and contributed much to Taiwan. As Margaret MacKay, the granddaughter still cherishes her memories of Taiwan, the memories of the MacKays are fleeting in Taiwan. The Kavalan, however, have forever engraved their gratitude for Pastor MacKay in their adopted surname.

References
  • Mackay, George Leslie :1895 From Far Formosa:The Island,its People and Missions. 4th. Edition. New York.
About the Translator

Jimmy Liang ,1989 年生於台北,自小對身邊的人事物有著深刻而煩人的好奇和想像,對於原住民文化的求知慾來自於小時後的閱讀和參觀過的原住民文化活動。自國中移民加拿大後對多元文化產生了敏感和深思,在北美西北岸原住民(Northwest Coastal Peoples)圖騰和紀念品充斥的溫哥華居住了大半輩子後也自然喚起了兒時的好奇也啟發了大學畢業後對文化的反思。

2011 年畢業於 Emily Carr 藝術設計大學,目前定居於溫哥華從事藝術創作及教育和在餐廳打工。 


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Photo: Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Toronto