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First exhibit from new Chinese Canadian Museum launches in Vancouver Chinatown

A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration and British Columbia opens Saturday, Aug. 15
Screen Shot 2020-08-13 at 4.47.51 PM
Photo courtesy of Province of British Columbia / Flickr

Beginning on Saturday, Vancouverites will be able to learn more about Chinese Canadian history thanks to a free, temporary exhibit launching in Vancouver Chinatown. 

A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration and British Columbia is the first exhibit from the Chinese Canadian Museum, recently established by a $10 million investment from the provincial government to the City of Vancouver "to support further planning" for the new museum.

This exhibit will explore the history of Chinese immigration, with a particular focus on how the communities were able to stay vibrant through the food and restaurant culture they brought to British Columbia, through individual narratives. 

“People told us they wanted the Chinese Canadian Museum to showcase Chinese Canadian history, past and present, in the places where it happened,” said Lisa Beare, minister of tourism, arts and culture in a release.

“This exhibit embodies that vision by telling the stories of the people who helped build British Columbia and offers a way for British Columbians to add their stories.”

The temporary exhibit will feature interactive story panels, alongside videos and audio that aim to provide snapshots from Chinese Canadians’ lives, the province added. Exhibit visitors will learn how "Chinese migrants and their descendants have found ways to earn a living, challenge systemic racism, connect with others, survive and thrive through hope and resilience."

Museum guests can also add their own personal stories to the museum's collection during their visit. As part of the exhibit, British Columbians will be able to share their experiences as Chinese Canadians, their interactions with Chinese Canadians in their community or even their experiences as migrants living in a new place.

There are several different methods through which visitors can choose to share their stories, including on-camera or in-person interviews, in writing or simply by placing a marker on a map. Following its tenure in Vancouver Chinatown, the exhibition will continue to collect stories from visitors across B.C. as it travels throughout the province. 

Museum staff are “excited to open this temporary exhibit and welcome everyone to visit it in Chinatown," said Grace Wong, chair of the Chinese Canadian Museum, in a release. 

"The exhibit offers a taste of how the Chinese Canadian Museum will share the historical contributions of Chinese Canadians and their continued role in the fabric of British Columbia and Canada," she added. 

This temporary exhibition is the result of a collaborative effort between the Chinese Canadian Museum Society of BC, the Museum of Vancouver and the University of British Columbia. The funding came alongside a memorandum of understanding signed by the province and the City of Vancouver to establish the museum and to pursue United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site Designation for Vancouver Chinatown.

The Museum of Vancouver also plans to launch a larger, related exhibit at its own location in October 2020, the province noted. 

Said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart in the release, “There is so much history and culture here in Vancouver. This is a great, affordable opportunity for people to learn more about the lives and experiences of the Chinese Canadians who shaped our city. I hope people come on down and check it out and enjoy Vancouver Chinatown.” 

The Chinese Canadian Museum Society of BC has implemented several safety measures to ensure visitors' health and safety while attending the exhibit. Those precautions include a maximum attendance of 14 people at any given time; hand sanitizer that will be provided to visitors, masks required for staff and recommended for patrons, as well as additional signage within the museum reminding exhibit visitors to keep a two-metre distance between themselves and others at all times.

A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration and British Columbia is located at the Hon Hsing Athletic Club, 27 East Pender St., and is open Friday until Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. The exhibit will run through 2021. 
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