New Museum of Vancouver exhibit sets a table for conversations about racism, resilience and reparations for Chinese-Canadian community

Museum of Vancouver exhibition, 'A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration & B.C.'
Museum of Vancouver exhibition, 'A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration & B.C.' - Courtesy of Museum of Vancouver
Laurence Gatinel - CFRO - VancouverBC | 18-11-2020

By David P. Ball
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A new exhibition in Vancouver is delving deep into Chinese-Canadians' experiences of racism, resilience and activism for reparations. And it's using food traditions to whet visitors' appetites.

Previously launched in Chinatown on Pender Street this summer, A Seat At The Table: Chinese Immigration and B.C. has expanded to 4,000 square feet at the Museum of Vancouver starting Thursday.

Denise Fong, a co-curator and UBC doctoral candidate in interdisciplinary studies, told The Pulse it's not just about the long history of racism and discrimination experienced by the Chinese community of the province that's on the table — but also over a century of the community's "foundational" place in the province, as well as stories of mutual aid, community organizing and today's Chinatown activism.

"We talk about historical racism, we have images and headlines … that really point to the activism form the Chinese-Canadian community from early 60s and 70s all the way to the present," Fong explained. And with 19th century benevolent societies highlighted as one way the community defended itself from discrimination, that type of direct aid and organizing continues today. "Many organizations in Chinatown are very active in meeting community needs.

"You see a lot of youth very active in the community today thinking about ways to support those comm who are marginalized and in more vulnerable positions, especially now with many seniors being isolated. This is a chance for us to really recognize the work that's going on."

The new Museum of Vancouver exhibition, 'A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration & B.C.' which opens Thursday, tackling racism, resilience and community. The exhibit is free to Indigenous community members. Tickets must be reserved in advance.

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