For the second year in a row, the Lunar New Year parade in Vancouver’s Chinatown has been cancelled during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, the heritage community hit hard by anti-Asian racism is welcoming the public to support local businesses and participate in both virtual and in-person celebrations as it welcomes Year of the Tiger on Tuesday, Feb. 1.
The Kouign Café is rolling out a limited edition steam basket set filled with a taste of their signature White Rabbit cookies – with 20 per cent of proceeds going towards St. Paul’s Hospital.
“It’s really important to celebrate Lunar New Year and keep it alive,” said owner Andrew Han.
“So that we just kind of remember where we came from and keep traditions alive.”
Those traditions are more subdued in 2022 as many events go online again.
The corridors of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden are decorated with traditional lanterns and the registered museum is offering a variety of cultural festivities on Feb. 5 and Feb. 6 – including live storytelling, calligraphy demonstrations, and weather permitting, a City Opera Vancouver performance.
On Jan. 29, the Hon Hsing Athletic Club orchestrated a special lion dance for garden visitors, as the Lunar New Year parade is halted for a second year.
“It is kind of disheartening to not see a parade happening this year,” said Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden executive director Lorraine Lowe.
“But you know, we will come back stronger next year.”
Year of the Tiger signifies courage, bravery and strength – which the heritage community has shown while being repeatedly targeted by anti-Asian hate during the pandemic.
“It’s a cruel sign of just how terrible racism is and can be,” UBC history professor Henry Yu told Global News.
Yu said the racism is entrenched – and triggered not only by COVID-19 but controversies like money laundering or high housing prices.
“We tend to scapegoat Asians and Chinatown as a symbolic heart of Chinese Canadian history and culture and community, becomes a target for a lot of that violence as well,” said Yu.
Graffiti vandalism discovered on the south-facing wall of the Garden on Jan. 16 was quickly removed before a Global News camera caught a man scribbling on the same wall with a black marker on Jan. 29 – as Lunar New Year festivities took place on the other side.
Despite the continued tagging and street disorder, Yu said Chinatown has long been a symbol of resilience.
“That resilience in some sense is a symbol of hope – especially at a moment like Chinese Lunar New Year.”
Kouign Café owner Han said he’s looking for Lunar New Year 2022 to be one wrapped in prosperity, good luck, good fortune and hope for the future.