Grand opening of Vancouver’s first Black library

Vancouver's first Black Library is opening to the public in the basement of the Sun Wah Centre, near Hogan's Alley. As Kier Junos reports, student volunteers crowdsourced funds and books for months to make the library possible.

Vancouver’s first Black library is opening to the public after months of work to make more tangible Black community spaces in the city.

The library is located in Chinatown, and offers a collection of Black literature in a tangible space for the Black community.

Founder Maya Preshyon says the Vancouver Black Library (VBL) has been six months in the making – led by student volunteers – who are crowdsourcing funds and books from the community.

“A lot of people come to Vancouver and they don’t see Black people, they don’t know where they are, they don’t know their experiences or stories, or Black people come to Vancouver and they feel really isolated so this is an effort, among many other amazing efforts in Vancouver to connect Black people and connect people who don’t know about Black culture to the means to do so.”

“This is an effort, among many other amazing efforts in Vancouver to connect black people.”

Multidisciplinary Artist DANI YOUR DARLING says the VBL provides resources that were previously scarce or inaccessible in the city.

“It also creates spaces within the local arts scene that prioritize, respect and value Black lives, Black art, Black joy, which is unfortunately so hard to come by in this city,” said DANI YOUR DARLING.

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The VBL is in the basement of the Sun Wah Centre in Chinatown.

The library is close to Hogan’s Alley – which was once a thriving Black neighbourhood in Vancouver – until racist redevelopment polices led to its destruction to create to Georgia Viaducts – displacing Black residents forever.

“With the destruction of Hogan’s Alley to make way for the viaducts, the sense of Black community in Vancouver was completely dispersed and dismantled,” said Preshyon.

Besides being a place to check out Black literature and study, Preshyon says the VBL will help kickstart art projects, provide Black hair care lessons, and much more.

“We want to make resources in art, resources in music, tech, anything, and skill sharing and all the software you need – completely low barrier, accessible. So that more people can break into spaces that often, in Vancouver, they’re not welcome to be in – because they don’t have the means, or the ‘in’ you know?”

The VBL is looking to raise $60,000 dollars to keep it operating as it expands its programming.

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