Arlene Chan was born, raised and educated in Toronto, Canada. After obtaining an undergraduate degree in English and Psychology at the University of Toronto, she graduated with a master’s degree in library sciences. Her career as a librarian started at the North York Board of Education and ended at the Toronto Public Library where she spent 30 years in progressively advanced positions.
Arlene has a special connection with Lillian H. Smith Branch; it is place that she has worked at and is a place where she holds her book launches. She also grew up in the neighbourhood. Arelene tells us a bit about the history of the Chinese communities, the impact that her mum, Jean Lumb, and other elders have made, and the importance of recording their stories.
"I remember never being able to go to the library and finding stories about Chinese people who had accomplished something. So I thought it was such an important message to get out to young people about here's a Chinese-Canadian woman who really accomplished a lot, like really came from nothing to become someone who accomplished something. So that's how I accidentally fell into writing." -On writing a children's book about her mum, Jean Lumb.
"It's just looking up to all these people but knowing they were important, but not knowing why they were important. So for me, learning the history, and the background, and the hardships that they went through. But at the same time, that they could leave such impact on our community."