Becoming Canadian, the Integration of Chinese Canadians into Vancouver Urban Life
Downtown Vancouver’s current state of real estate development and gentrification is steadily leading to heritage and cultural significance of the city being replaced by the mirrored glass of skyscrapers. As buildings are demolished and the stories of Vancouverites before us pass on in time, the formation of the city is owed to the people who inhabited public spaces, enjoyed parks, moved through the city on their ways to work, and made a livelihood.
The imagined space of Chinatown is a culturally rich area that speaks volumes of the history of migrant workers and the industries that founded Vancouver. Cultural preservation of the Chinese identity is an integral part of the community in Vancouver’s Chinatown, as seen through donation contributions of business owners and members, institutes like the Chinese Cultural Learning Center provide opportunities to promote continued education and awareness of Chinese heritage. Connections between places in Vancouver like the Pacific Central Station and the milestones that shaped Canada like the completion of the trans-continental railroad in 1885, and the significance of the unification of the country is seen as an achievement through the labor and sacrifice of migrant Chinese workers.
Chinatown was formed by racialized policies of oppression in an otherwise white European society. Over the years it was the perseverance in the face of adversity that Chinese Immigrant workers existed and shaped their own culturally unique piece of Canada yet, Vancouver’s trendy perception of the area fails to pay tribute to the origins and struggle of those who thrived despite discrimination.
Along this tour we will be paying homage to those who brought vibrancy to Chinatown and succeeded in preserving cultural heritage despite the adversity and racial prejudice from a predominantly white city. With the various monuments and buildings as a source of rich history this tour will delve into the darker past of Vancouver’s first attempts at multiculturalism, and the stories of those whose efforts to maintain a culturally important aspect of community in Chinatown amidst the racialized boundaries of Vancouver.
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Tour and Podcasts Designed by:
Landon Poato and Matthew Wren