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Celebrating Asian Heritage Month in BC

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. This is an opportunity to learn about the rich histories of the many Asian-Canadian cultures and reflect on the significant contributions they have made to BC and Canada over the last two centuries. Immigration to Canada from all parts of Asia has contributed to vibrant and diverse communities here in BC, as well as across the country.

6 experiences to try

Celebrating the cultures, art and traditions of our Asian Canadian neighbours and friends is a great way to learn about the many Asian cultures that enrich our province. Here are six ways to celebrate Asian Heritage Month, embrace our diverse communities and perhaps try something new.

1. Discover Asian art. Here are some current exhibits that you can experience online or in person:

2. Cook something new. Why not challenge yourself to try a new food? From Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Filipino, Chinese and more, there are so many unique and delicious options. If you’re feeling confident in the kitchen, try an Asian-inspired dish that you’ve never made before. If takeout is more your style, order from a local Asian-owned business in your region.

Asian food 

3. Get crafty. For the perfect calming activity that’s friendly for all ages, try origami. You can find a brief history of origami here, and here is a beginner’s guide to get your started with options for more advanced folds too.

4. Watch a movie produced by an Asian creator. The National Film Board has curated this list of films that celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian descent. And don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Vancouver Asian Film Festival coming in November.

5. Read a book with connections to Asian Canadian cultures. Here’s a great list, including both ebooks and audiobooks, curated by the Vancouver Public Library. CBC News has also put together a comprehensive reading list with books for both kids and adults.

6. Learn about events in Canadian history that have impacted Asian Canadians, such as the story of the Komagatu Maru, the history of wrongs toward Canada’s Chinese population and Japanese Canadian internment. These are tough but important reads. There’s much to be learned as we acknowledge that we must do better.

While Asian Heritage Month is a celebration of communities that are integral to BC’s cultural fabric, it also raises awareness of the persistence of racism and the need to address it. Bias and discrimination continue to exist.

We can help create a better and more inclusive BC for all by taking simple steps to educate ourselves, including learning how to be a better ally to equity-deserving communities in our province.

hands going up illustration 

Be an ally

An ally is someone who makes consistent efforts to uplift, empower and support equity-deserving groups, even though they are not a member of the group themselves. We all play a role in creating safe public spaces for our fellow British Columbians, so take steps to educate yourself and learn how as an individual you can make a difference. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out this helpful guide to becoming an ally and commit to the following three simple steps:

1. Invite and amplify diverse voices.
2. Educate yourself.
3. Don’t just talk about racism, help be the change by taking action.

To help you get started on your journey to being a better ally, we’ve pulled together a few resources and recommendations that we’ve discovered through our own reading and research:

  • Learn more Asian representation and anti-Asian discrimination by following these social media accounts:
  • Take a course. Learn how to do your part to protect neighbours and co-workers if you witness biased or discriminatory language or behaviour.
  • Support programs like the Vancouver-based initiative The Safe Buddies Program which matches volunteers with people who don't feel safe walking alone.
    • Finally, if you witness or experience racism, report it.

    We each can take action to counteract racism and create positive change in our communities, so let’s work together to create a better BC for all.