MAY is Asian Heritage month: Canadian Immigrant magazine interviews Todd Wong

It's May… time for Asian Heritage Month again.

Last year I met Dadawa, the featured performer for the explorASIAN festival. My friend Andrew Kim performed in Dadawa's band, at the Chan Centre. photo Todd Wong collection.

This is when I scan the explorASIAN website, check my calendar for the annual Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre Sketch-Off event May 9 & 10.

Asia/Pacific Heritage Week was first proclaimed in May by U.S.President Carter in 1978, becoming Asian Heritage Month in 1992.  The following year in 1993,  Toronto started the first Asian Heritage Month celebrations in Canada. It took until 2001 before it was proclaimed as Asian Heritage Month in Canada, led by Senator Vivienne Poy.

I have spent many past Mays helping to organize events for Asian Heritage Month or attending events.  It was back in 2002, that I helped set up Wayson Choy as the keynote speaker for the exploraAsian Awards Gala when I was on the inaugural One Book One Vancouver committee.  I had also helped organize and plan the opening ceremonies held at Robson Square.

That was also the year that we created the Gung Haggis explorASIAN dragon boat team to help promote Asian Heritage Month. Six years later and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team is taking up lots of my time as I am coaching 3 times a week.  Used to be I coached 3 different teams, once each week, instead of 1 team 3X week.  But we are making big performance improvements as we embrace our Asian heritage with Chinese, Japanese, Philipino and Hapa-Asian descendants.

This month's issue of Canadian Immigrant features a short interview with me about my views on Asian Heritage Month.

May 2008 is Asian Heritage Month

Join in celebrating Asian culture and heritage in Canada

By Noa Glouberman

May, communities across the country have observed Asian Heritage Month,
acknowledging the long and rich history of Asian Canadians in Canada.
This year in Vancouver, the annual event — titled explorASIAN — is
marking its 12th anniversary, and invites Canadians of all backgrounds
to join in the celebration.

Todd Wong, a past explorASIAN volunteer and former program co-ordinator,
says the event isn’t simply about having Asian roots. “It’s about
understanding the history of Asians in Canada, just as other ethnic
groups, like the Scottish or French populations, may celebrate their
heritage as part of overall Canadian culture,” he explains.

Wong, who’s involved in a variety of cultural organizations and events,
and runs a website devoted to his “Asian Canadian adventures in
inter-cultural Vancouver” (,
says the many Asian-infused programs, performances and events available
to the public in May can help all Canadians gain a better appreciation
for their own backgrounds.

“When you can look at and examine someone else’s culture and heritage,
it gives you more insight into your own roots as well,” he says.

Asian Heritage Month is celebrated in cities across Canada, including
Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary and
Edmonton. In Vancouver and other Lower Mainland communities,
explorASIAN offers an exciting schedule of events in May and June.
Visit for full details.

explorAsian highlights

explorASIAN 2008 Opening Event

Infinite Echoes from Japan: New Directions in Traditional Japanese Music

May 1, 7:30 p.m., Frederic Wood Theatre, UBC

Asian Cinema Takes a Bow on Knowledge Network
The Slanted Screen, Lai Man Wai: The Father of Chinese Cinema, Cinema Asia
May 2, 9, 16, 10 p.m., on the Knowledge Network

SMC/explorASIAN First Annual Filmmakers Showcase
Canadian filmmakers celebrated during Asian Heritage Month
May 11, 18, 25, 9 p.m., on Shaw Multicultural Channel

Vancouver International Children’s Festival
Spectacular Korea, Halmang, Myth of Jeju Island
May 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, various show times/locations

Tailor Made: Chinatown’s Last Tailors

(this film is special because it is about my friend Steven Wong's father)
A film about two aging brothers who can no longer run their father’s shop
May 13, 14, 16, 28, various screening times/locations

explorASIAN 2008 Closing Event
Dharmakasa Concert
May 31, 8 p.m., Joyce Walley Learning Centre, Vancouver Museum

For a listing of events in other parts of the country, visit Canadian Heritage’s official site at


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