Chinatown Storytelling Centre looks forward to fall and winter programming


In hopes of leaving a positive mark on the city, the Chinatown Storytelling Centre is looking forward to expanding its programming throughout the winter.

Carol Lee, Chair of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, says the Chinatown Storytelling Centre’s grand opening last week went spectacularly, and she’s excited to see how the exhibits there will leave a mark on the city.

“I think there was a tremendous amount of surprise at how beautiful it looked and a lot of emotion felt by people who got a chance to look at the exhibits,” she said, adding staff have been surprised by how much time people spend in the centre, learning and listening to stories about the area.

They have an album of about 150 stories that have been very popular among visitors, who can enjoy them at spaced-out kiosks.

“I think people are excited that we’ve created such an important space and a landmark in Vancouver. That’s what stories are for, to try and teach people about the history of the Chinese-Canadian experience,” she said.

“It’s an important part of our Canadian history and in many ways it’s untold history, a history many people don’t know about.”

The building is at 168 East Pender Street, a 4,000-foot space, can fit plenty of attendees while allowing social distancing.

Following a rise in anti-Asian violence during the pandemic, she hopes the exhibits teaches non-Chinese Canadians about the truth of the country’s past. Vancouver police reported anti-Asian hate crimes rose 717 per cent during the first year of the pandemic, and an Angus Reid Institute survey from June said over half of Asian Canadians suffered discrimination in the past year.

The Vancouver Police Department have said anti-Asian hate crimes increased 717 per cent during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey released in June by the Angus Reid Institute suggests more than half of Asian Canadians have suffered discrimination in the past year.

By visiting the centre, Lee hopes Chinese visitors can enjoy feeling proud of their heritage.

“We didn’t always feel welcome. It can be hard to fit in, and I think a lot of us didn’t embrace or appreciate our Chinese heritage,” she said. “I’m happy we can showcase it in a way that makes people feel really proud.”

There’s no better place to share those stories than Chinatown, where events like the Vancouver anti-Asian riots of 1907 took place.

Related Articles:

Already, she says Chinese-Canadian visitors have told her how moved they were during their visit to the centre.

“This is what we hoped, that people who grew up in the neighbourhood would feel very proud of how we present the history, and this is just the beginning,” she said.

“It’s a starting point, and we’re trying to piece together the history. There will be lots more digging, and hopefully now people will be coming out to a facility where they can share their story.”

An exhibit called “Behind the covers of the Chinatown News” will be opening in late November. It puts a spotlight on a weekly news issue published by Roy Mah that featured the local community, published from the 1950s to the 1990s. Some of the people who were featured will be invited back for an interview as part of the event. There will be a Cantonese opera performance as well in mid-December.

It’s family friendly, and kids love it, says Lee.

All of their programming will be available at the Rogers Theatre. For more information on the centre’s upcoming events click here.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today