Marking Asian Heritage Month is more important than ever this year, according to Ananya Mukherjee Reed, UBC Okanagan provost and vice-president of academia.
“The very difficult time that Asian communities are going through with the rise of anti-Asian racism, with the humanitarian crises in a number of Asian countries with COVID, and exactly what is going on now in India, all of this was in the back of our mind when we put this together,” said Mukherjee Reed.
To help mark Asian Heritage Month, UBC Okanagan is hosting a month-long series of virtual events aimed at eliminating anti-Asian racism, in the hopes of creating a better understanding of Asian cultures and communities.
“It is absolutely important to have that kind of understanding of Asia,” said Mukherjee Reed.
“One of the things our students said from the beginning is that Asia is not one monolithic space or community, there are many different countries in Asia, many different cultures, and the understanding of these cultures and the different values are very important for this time.”
The events teach everything from the story of Indian folk dance, Bhangra, poetry, sharing Chinese voices of the Okanagan including folk songs and stories, sharing how the pandemic has affected the Philipines, an artist showcase and a way to rediscover Kelowna’s Chinatown.
“Kelowna was established in 1905 but by then there was already a Chinatown,” said Linda Digby, Kelowna Museums Society executive director.
“The people who occupied it were sometimes described as ‘married bachelors’, these were men who came to Canada because they were needed to build the Trans-Canada Railway. Then, when it was over it was just ‘see ya later’ and they were set loose to make due on their own.
“So the workers gravitated to places they could get to along the line where there was work and at that time the Okanagan was just getting established.”
Many of the men who helped build Kelowna’s Chinatown are still buried in Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetary.
To register and tune into the upcoming virtual events, visit UBC Okanagan’s website.