Thursday, July 23, 2020

Canada’s first Chinese Canadian Museum

 (photo attribution: MARELBU)
What a delight it is to have the oldest Chinatown in Canada right here in Victoria and know that our government is honouring and preserving the knowledge of the contributions of Chinese Canadians – contributions that are essential to our province – past and present. I am very pleased to be able to announce this during Chinese Cultural Heritage Week, July 20-27.

The B.C. government announced this week that they have invested $10 million to establish the Chinese Canadian Museum – the first in Canada. This investment includes $2 million to complete the planning and development and $8 million for an endowment to provide ongoing support. The museum includes a provincial hub in Vancouver Chinatown, multiple regional hubs and spokes throughout B.C. – including Victoria, and an online portal and digital experiences for historical locations throughout the province.

At at a critical point in history for conversations about race, inequality and injustice in this province. As Premier John Horgan said, “There really couldn’t be a better time to come together to share the stories about how our province got to where it is – and to have conversations about where we want it to go.”

The newly formed, independent, non-profit Chinese Canadian Museum Society of British Columbia will lead development and operation of the museum. The inaugural board has 20 members with a range of expertise, skills and experience and includes representatives from both the provincial government and the City of Vancouver. Grace Wong, former senior advisor international, University of British Columbia Office of Provost and Vice‐President Academic, is the chair of the society.

To kick-off the museum experience, the Chinese Canadian Museum Society is launching a temporary exhibit in Vancouver Chinatown at 27 E Pender St. in August. A Seat at the Table explores the history of Chinese immigration and how the communities were able to stay vibrant and resilient through the food and restaurant culture they brought to British Columbia. The exhibit is a partnership with the City of Vancouver, University of British Columbia and Museum of Vancouver.

The society has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the newly formed Victoria Chinatown Museum Society to be the first regional hub and launch a pocket gallery in Fan Tan Alley with the support of the Royal BC Museum. The pocket gallery is anticipated to open in time for the recognition of Chinese Cultural Heritage Week, July 20-27, 2020.

The funding delivers on the B.C. government’s commitment to establish a Chinese Canadian museum. It also reflects the memorandum of understanding signed between the Province and the City of Vancouver to pursue United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Site Designation for Vancouver Chinatown and recognizes its global significance as a site of ongoing cultural and historic value. Following a public engagement in 2019, the Province provided a $1-million grant to the City of Vancouver to support planning, including opening a project office and pocket gallery in Vancouver Chinatown.

Looking for something new to do this summer? Visit Victoria Chinatown and learn more about the history of the Chinese Canadian community - where it happened!

You can find out more about Chinese Canadian Museum HERE (video) and HERE.

Find out more about Victoria’s amazing Chinatown HERE.