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Celebrating Asian Heritage Month in BC

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. This is an opportunity to acknowledge and reflect on the rich histories and many different cultures of Asian-Canadians and their significant contributions to our province and country over the last two centuries. Bringing rich and diverse heritage from across East Asia, Southern Asia, Western and Southeast Asia has created such vibrant communities here in BC and right across Canada.

Seven experiences to try this month

Celebrating the culture, 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 and make BC such a wonderful place to live. Here are seven ways to celebrate Asian Heritage Month, embrace our diverse communities and perhaps try something new.

1. Discover art from an Asian artist. 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! Here are a few favourite recipes and take-out spots from our BCAA team members. From Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Filipino to 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 all-age-friendly, 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 Vancouver Asian Film Festival coming in November.

5. Read a book with connections to Asian Canadian culture. 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.

7. Check out the ExplorASIAN festival for a full list of activities happening around British Columbia this month, including dance, art, webinars, music, walking tours and more! There’s something for all interests.

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. The disturbing recent rise in xenophobic and racist crimes again our Asian community members right here in BC is an important reminder that we all play a role to stand up and protect one another.

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

hands going up illustration 

Be an ally

An ally is someone who supports people who are in a minority group or who are discriminated against, even though they do not belong to that 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. Listen to members of the Asian community.
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 about some Asian experiences by following these social media accounts:
  • Take a bystander intervention training course. Learn how to do your part to protect neighbours and co-workers if you witness bias or harassment.
  • 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 prevent racism and create positive change in our communities, so let’s work together to create a better BC for all.