Earlier this year, British Columbians were invited to share their ideas about the provincial government’s plan to establish a Chinese Canadian museum. That plan is now closer to becoming reality, after the Province announced earlier this month that it is providing a $1 million grant to the City of Vancouver to support continued planning and programming design for the proposed museum.
A project office has been established at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver to work with the community and further develop plans for the museum. The office features a “pocket gallery” of photos and stories about the province’s Chinese community.
In 2017 the Lytton Chinese Museum opened, highlighting the story of the Chinese community in this region. The proposed new museum would honour the contributions of B.C.’s Chinese community, past and present, throughout the province.
During the public engagement process earlier in 2019—which included community meetings in Kamloops, Vancouver, and Victoria—people provided positive feedback on a proposal to establish the museum as a hub-and-spoke model, with a provincial hub located in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
Establishing a Chinese Canadian museum is part of the government’s partnership with the City of Vancouver to work together to pursue a UNESCO World Heritage site designation for Vancouver’s Chinatown. The project is being supported by the Chinese Canadian Museum Working Group, a committee of people with expertise in Chinese Canadian heritage and culture, museum development, city planning, and provincial history.
In 1982 Bill Yee became the first Chinese-Canadian elected to Vancouver city council. He is now part of the working group, and says he hopes the museum and its hubs will unite the Chinese community, especially people who don’t live near Vancouver’s historic Chinatown.
“This grant from the B.C. government shows it is committed to the establishment of a Chinese Canadian museum,” says Yee. “I am so proud of how the Chinese community has gotten behind this project, and I am excited to see the government taking this concrete step.”
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says this is an opportunity to celebrate the Chinese-Canadians who helped build B.C.
“Chinese-Canadians have made an exceptional impact to the social, economic, and cultural lives of the province and the city, and we are committed to acting on the opportunities we have to conserve, commemorate, and enhance the living heritage and cultural assets of Vancouver’s Chinatown for all Canadians,” he said at the opening of the project office, which is located in Vancouver’s Chinatown in the same building that houses the Chinese-Canadian Military Museum.