Category Archives: Asian Heritage Month

2024 Asian Heritage Month’s Pan-Asian Recognition Award Winner is . . .

With friends Carol Hamshaw (President of VAHMS, Ujjal Dosanjh, Eric Li, Effie Pow, and Wiley Ho

Honourees for the Pan-Asian Recognition Awards are selected for:
• Leadership or support for Pan-Asian arts, education, or culture
• Significant contribution towards social integration of Asian-Canadian communities through cross-cultural, or multicultural exchange
• Achievement or contributions to promote Pan-Asian cultural heritage
• Enhancement of multicultural identity, education, or experience through cultural or artistic expression
• Collaboration with individuals or institutions promoting the advancement of inclusive learning

Other winners: Mena Film Festival and Kasandra La China

LiterASIAN 2020 is Here! For Asian Heritage Month

Proud be part of LiterASIAN 2020

LiterASIAN Festival is the first of its kind within Canada, the purpose to promote and celebrate the works of Asian Canadian writers and artists through author readings, panel discussions, and workshop events.  We create important and unique networking opportunities between professional and emerging writers, students, and members of the broader public to learn and discuss topics of importance to Asian Canadian writing.

In 2013 . . . we featured C.X. Cheng, Terry Watada, Sarah Ling, Larry Grant, Ann Shin, Larry Wong, Janie Chang, Denise Chong, Laara Ong, David H.T. Wong, Julia Lin, Terry Woo, May Yan, Ann Marie Fleming.

In 2014 . . . we featured  invited Lily Chow, Edwin Lee, Amanda Wan, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Doretta Lau, Fred Wah, Tom Cho, Louise Bak, Elsie Sze, Raymond Nakamura, Corinna Chong, Kim Fu, Yasuko Thanh

In 2015 . . . we featured Derwin Mak, Tony Pi, Eric Choi, JF Garrard, Wesley Lowe, David Ng, Shirley Camia, Holman Wang, and Christina Park.

In 2016 . . . we featured Paul Yee, Denise Chong, SKY Lee, JJ Lee, Simon Choa Johnston, Jean Barman, C. Fong Hsiung, Edwin Lee, Larry Wong, Joy Kogawa, Judy Hanazawa, Larry Grant, Sarah Ling, Dan Seto, David Wong, Cheuk Kwan, Kwoi Gin, and Anna Wang Yuan 

In 2017 . . . we featured Jen Sookfong Lee, Julia Lin, Janie Chang, Terry Watada, Leslie Shimotakahara, Eleanor Guerrero-Campbell, Catherine Hernandez, Leanne Dunic

In 2018 . . . we featured Madeleine Thien, Kevin Chong, Evelyn Lau, Michael Kaan, Michelle Kim, Carrianne Leung, Vincent Ternida, Alice Poon, Cheuk Kwan, Katherine Luo

In 2019 . . . we featured Rita Wong, Fred Wah, Sally Ito, May Q. Wong, C.E. Gatchalian, Philip Huynh

In 2020 . . . we do it all again!  

New Opera Tan Dun’s Tea: Mirror of Soul

Wow… so many people have been saying that Vancouver Opera’s current production of Tea: Mirror of Soul, composed by Tan Dun, is a must see.

The visuals are stunning.  The music is compelling.  The topics of love, family, guilt, loss, death are standard in many operas.  But combined with a unique blend of Chinese music and story that includes references to the Monkey King, and the art of tea ceremony, this opera pushes and challenges boundaries on many levels.  The most striking is its use of water, paper and rock as musical and visual themes.  There are large water bowls on each side of the stage, and musicians hit, slap or drip the water to create a fascinating aural soundscape.  Paper is used as visual forest for scenery, or it is hit with drum sticks to create thunder, or rolled to create thunder.  As well the opera chorus holds sheets of paper and uses it like percussion, complimenting the orchestra.


Nancy Allen Lundy has played the character of Lan in every production of Tea: a Mirror of Soul.

This is the setting for the exquisite singing, that is a blend of traditional classical opera and Chinese opera.  American soprano Nancy Allen Lundy, performs Lan.  She is the only artist to have ever played this role in productions around the world.  She sings like a bel canto bird on some songs, while on others she bends her notes like in Chinese opera style.  It is different for ears accustomed to Western opera – but it is exciting that Vancouver Opera would mount this production.  Find out more about Nancy Allen Lundy from the Opera Blog

It’s also a perfect blend for the cultural diversity of Vancouver.  Much is made of Vancouver’s large Chinese population, as well as the local music scene which features lots of cultural fusion artists such as Silk Road Music, Orchid Ensemble, and even Mozaico Flamenco – which performed a full scale of Cafe de Chinitas this past weekend.

Tan Dun is more well known in North America as the composer of the soundtrack for the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.  I loved both the movie and the music which featured cello superstar Yo Yo Ma.  Ten years ago, I witnessed Vancouver Opera concertmaster Mark Ferris perform Tan Dun’s “Crouching Tiger Concerto for Cello and Chamber Orchestra” with the CBC Radio Orchestra-  with featured Chinese erhu virtuoso George Gao  It was amazing.

The opera opens with the main character Seikyu, a former prince now a monk in Kyoto Japan, performing a ritualistic tea ceremony.  He sings of bitterness, and the monks ask him why.  Then then begins to tell a story of ten years past when he was in China, and in love in the Princess Lan.  The action then shifts to China, as the sets seem to magically transform.

But this opera is more than just the music.  There are so many levels of story,

The opera runs again on Thursday May 9th and Saturday May 11th, start time is 7:30pm.  Don’t be late or you will miss opening preamble and musicians walking up the aisles.

This review – is still in process – check back for more!

Watch these videos about Tea: A Mirror of Soul – posted by Vancouver Opera on youtube.

Naomi’s Road at West Vancouver Library is great… looking forward to April 23 at Italian Cultural Centre

Erica Iris and Hiather Darnela-Kadanoga play Obasan and Naomi, in a scene when the family leaves Vancouver on a train.

I saw the production at West Vancouver Library on Friday April 19th, and we both really enjoyed it.  Sam Chung returns as Stephen. The new singers are all good. Hiather Darnel-Kadonaga plays Naomi, Erica Iris plays the 3 roles Mother, Obasan and Mitzie. Henry Chen plays Daddy, Bully, Rough Lock Bill, Trainmaster.

I saw the original production in 2005/06 five times and enjoyed it immensely.  West Vancouver Library isn’t the best place to the performance because lighting was not the best, and the performer’s faces were often in shadows.  Close to 50 people came to the library for the free performance.

The performances by all singers are strong, and the storyline is strong.  Watching the perfomers, we were amazed at both the choreography of the movement on stage, as well as how the small versatile set is used and moved to simulate so many scenes: Powell Street, Living Room, Train, Internment Camp.   There were tears in my eyes as I watched the pinnacle scene of the opera.  It makes a powerful statement against racism and bullying.

Tickets are still on sale for Tuesday’s April 23 performance.

buy tickets on-line here:

There will be a limited number of tickets available at the door.

Hiather Darnel-Kadonaga (soprano) plays Naomi

Erica Iris (mezzo-soprano) performs as Mother, Mitzi, Obasan

Sam Chung (tenor) plays Stephen
Photographs courtesy of Vancouver Opera, and available from the Naomi’s Road press kit

Review: Etch-YOUR-Sketch-OFF

VACT's Etch-YOUR-Sketch-OFF presents new teams for new Asian-Canadian sketch comedies!

special to

by Michael Brophy

Thursday night I attended an event put on by Vancouver Asian
Canadian Theater which is organized by Joyce Lam. She is the original
creator and producer of the Etch-YOUR-SketchOFF comedy show who has
recently been honored with the BC Community Achievement Award for her
work in shaping our provinces theatrical community.

Host of the show, Tom Chin, related his witty observations on the
lifestyles of the stereotypical aspiring Asian lawyer, dentist, or
doctor and disclosed “what happens to Asians that don't make it to med
school”. With a piercing “Aiyya!” Tom introduced the first group SFUU
MAN CHU which promised the most value for ones dollar during these hard
economic times by presenting “one sketch for every dollar spent”.

Banana Drama, winner of this years People Choys Awards, began with a
sketch bringing light to our North American dependence on all things
made in China by stripping a young man of all his Chinese made clothing
until left wearing only a skimpy man-kini — more male nudity ensued as
a comedic theme of the night.

New teams to the sketch-off scene include
Beef Noodle Soup, a two man group that presented bi-curious characters
wanking to an image of Gordon Campbell, had the audience cringing with
muffled laughter. Asians Bleed Red, also a new addition to the theater,
did a well choreographed dance to the tune of “Domo Arrigato, Mr.

One of my personal favorite groups this year and a 2008
recipient of the Rice Bowl Prize had Simon Yang of The Yangtzers
performing a contemporary dance with a hoover vacuum revealing the
eroticism between one man and his servile machine. Other gut-busting notables Angry Asian
Men and Laughing Make Mind Damage helped make it clear that Asian North
Americans have come a long way in comedy from the likes of William
Hungs short lived career as an entertainer. 

My night with the V.A.C.T.
crew was capped with an after-party that took place at Earls in
Yaletown which had members of the audience and actors in the sketch-off
socializing well past midnight. I would highly recommend attending if
you haven't in the past years. This annual event is always brimming
with a culturally diverse humor that resonates the funny bone with
gratuitous displays of raunchy buffoonery.

Tailor Made documentary about Wong family tailor shop is re-broadcast on Knowledge Network

Watch “Tailor Made – the last Chinese tailor shop in Vancouver Chinatown”

'Tailor Made' is being broadcast again in BC on Knowledge Network on the following dates:

  • May 26/2009  10:00PM
  • May 27/2009   2:00AM
  • May 27/2009    7:00PM

“Tailor Made”is a wonderful documentary about the last tailor shop in Vancouver Chinatown.  It opened in 1913.   It made most of the zoot suits in Vancouver during the 1940's.  Sean Connery's picture is there with the tailors Bill and Jack Wong.  It's a Chinatown success story, that mirrors the history of Vancouver Chinatown, as the original tailor had to pay a head tax to come to Vancouver, as his two sons fought for Canada during WW2 when Chinese weren't allowed to vote, as his sons were unabled to get hired as UBC graduated engineers due to still prevailing racist sentiments, and how the youngest son became one of Vancouver's leading philanthropists and cultural leaders.

Bill Wong the tailor loves to attended the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.  His son Steven
paddles on our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  This is a
wonderful documentary that received a standing ovation at the Whistler
Film Festival.

and Jack's younger brother Milton Wong is one of Vancouver's important
figures, and former chancellor of SFU, and known as the “grandfather of
dragon boat racing” in Vancouver.  Both Milton and Steven were
interviewed for a German public television documentary addressing
multiculturalism in Vancouver.  The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat
team was featured too!
Check out:

own family has known the Wongs for many year, my aunts and uncles went
to school with many of the Wong family members.  My uncle Laddie works
as a tailor at Modernize Tailors.

In 2004, both the “Wong Way”
dragon boat team and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team
participated in a workshop to carve dragon boat heads at the Round
House Community Centre.

Check the Modernize Tailors Website:

Tuesday February 12, 2008 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld
A naïve apprentice and a hot, young master tailor are both interested in taking over a legendary tailor shop in Vancouver's Chinatown, but they'll have a hard time convincing the hard-working Wong brothers to retire.

Modernize Tailors opened in 1913, and in the 1950s Bill and Jack Wong
took over from their father. Over the years, they've created suits for
all occasions and for customers from all walks of life-from lumberjacks
and new immigrants to movie stars like Sean Connery and politicians
like Sam Sullivan, then Mayor of Vancouver.

Now, a newer
generation is looking to make their mark and take over the Modernize
Tailors legacy. But will the 85-year-old Wong Brothers ever stop

Tailor Made was directed by Len Lee and Marsha
Newbery, and produced by Marsha Newbery of Realize Entertainment Inc.
It was commissioned by CBC Newsworld.

Knowledge Network: Tailor Made

'Tailor Made' is being broadcast again in BC on Knowledge Network on the following dates:

  • May 26/2009  10:00PM
  • May 27/2009   2:00AM
  • May 27/2009    7:00PM

explorASIAN Family Day Saturday at Vancouver Museum

Celebrate Asian Heritage at the Vancouver Museum on Saturday

here is an event for explorASIAN:

Metro Vancouver community invited to participate in

explorASIAN Friends & Family


 explorASIAN celebrates the end of Asian Heritage Month in Metro Vancouver
with an exciting day of family friendly activities.  This free community event includes live
music concerts, magic shows, dance performances, arts and crafts, community
booths, and free giveaways.  
community is invited to enjoy this FREE multicultural event and meet the
talented Asian Canadian artists and diverse cultural and community


explorASIAN Friends & Family Day

Vancouver Museum, 1100 Chestnut Street (Vanier

May 31, 2008 Saturday

11am – 5pm

Free event | Free parking


performances for all ages:

  • International
    Champions of Magic Rod Chow & Company
  • Award
    Winning Elvis Impersonators: 
    Aaron Wong & Adam Leyk
  • Kathara
    Dance Theatre
  • Vandna
    Sidher Bharata Natyam Classical Indian Dance
  • Master
    Wilson Wu (kungfu)
  • Sifu
    Laurens Kam To Lee (tai chi)
  • DJ's
    Trevor Chan and MissBliss


  • Asian
    Canadian History Timeline Challenge Scavenger Hunt
  • Arts
    and Crafts displays and demonstrations
  • Caricature
    Drawings by Geoff Wong
  • and

community organizations:

  • Lang’s
    Mongolian Acupuncture
  • Powell
    Street Festival Society
  • Taiwanese
    Canadian Cultural Society
  • UBC
    Department of Asian Studies (KUNGQU)
  • C3
    Korean Canadian Society
  • Scripting
  • Dr.
    Lyla May Yip Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Master
    Wilson Wu Kungfu Ocean Academy
  • 411
    Seniors Centre Society
  • Kam
    To Tai Chi Chuan Association
  • Raymond
    Chow, Artist
  • Canadian
    International Dragon Boat Society



is sponsored by the



Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society is a registered non-profit society
that celebrates Pan-Asian arts and culture by presenting diverse educational and
community outreach programs.


Society presents and participates in many community ethnocultural events
throughout the year and produces the Asian Heritage Month festival known as
explorASIAN” in the month of May.


1996, the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society's “explorASIAN” Festival has
endeavored to explore the diversity of Asian Canadian life and culture and
promote the discussion of relevant issues and concerns within and beyond the
Asian Canadian community.   The
Metro Vancouver community

will share and experience Pan-Asian Canadian arts and culture at events
featuring emerging and established actors, artists, dancers, filmmakers,
musicians, performers and writers.

DADAWA is playing at the Chan Centre to wrap up the explorASIAN festival

DADAWA is playing at the Chan Centre to wrap up the explorASIAN festival

is an internationally recognized musical performer that only a
few  people are aware of in Vancouver.  She has currently
been an artist in residence at UBC.  explorASIAN executive director Don Montgomery has been telling me stoked he is that Dadawa is performing in Vancouver.

The Chan Centre has really gone all out to bring in interesting
cross-cultural and inter-cultural artists to create a wonderful program
this year.  This should definitely be a show to watch this week!

Following information from

Tickets: $28 / $48 / $88-includes post concert reception with Dadawa and her band

Ticketmaster by phone at 604.280.3311 or (plus service charges)

Chan Centre Ticket Office (in person only)

tickets (10+) are available for only $20/person. (Regular price is
$28/person) Please quote the promo code “sevendays” when ordering from
Ticketmaster (standard ticketmaster fees apply) or purchase in person
at the Chan Centre. Limited quantity of group tickets are available.

Complimentary parking offered to all concert guests. Please use the Rose Garden parkade adjacent to the Chan Centre.

The 2007 explorASIAN Grand Finale Concert with International World Music Artist DADAWA (Zhu Zheqin 朱哲琴)

May 31, 2007 at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, University of British Columbia

a delightful evening of contemporary world music blended with the
traditional sounds of Pan Asia featuring international world music
artist DADAWA, presented by explorASIAN, the Chan Centre, and the Alma
Mater Society of UBC.

This concert is also a fundraiser for the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society, presenters of the explorASIAN Festival.

(Zhu Zheqin 朱哲琴), is the first contemporary Chinese diva to achieve
worldwide stardom. Dadawa is a native of Changsha, Hunan. She has
traveled China and the world extensively as both a musician and
adventurer. She is considered to be the pioneer “indie” artist in
China, having independently produced her music, videos and films for
over a decade, and an ambassador of contemporary music from China.

REVIEW: Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre's Sketch-Off Competition

REVIEW: Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre's Sketch-Off Competition

Liu attended this year's annual Sketch-Off Competion, hosted by
Vancouver Asian Comedy Theatre.  Here is his review – special to

Each year, Vancouver
Asian Canadian Theatre
offers an “Annual SketchOff* Competition.” Now for those
of you who are wondering what this is, just try and imagine Russel Peters x 6,
minus the brown, mixed in some yellow, and voila! (groups of Asian comedians,
in case you didn’t catch my drift) .
For some background
information, VACT was made to promote and increase Asian
actors on stage, and what better way to do this than with laughter?

This years’
SketchOff* performance was my first, I must admit, but it surely will not be my
last. Two performances were held this year on May 18th and 19th,
and DISORIENTAL, I find it hard to
believe that anybody would want to miss out.

Throughout my entire life (19 looong years), I have never
EVER seen an Asian comedian. Maybe it’s cause I was in Canada most my life, but

All 6 teams were given 2 weeks to come up with their skits,
and boy o boy was I amazed at some of the absurd yet hilarious jokes that were
brought out of nowhere. They weren’t all original, but hey, they still did the
trick, cause my chin was bruised from laughter by the end of the night.

Most of the jokes incorporated Asian aspects such as hygiene
issues (eww…), stereotypical Chinese accents, STRONGLY over-emphasized Chinese
accents (hehe, fork… f-o-o-r-k…. f-o-o-k…. f-u-o-k… f-u-u-k… :P), and many
more. But best of all, everything that they did had a Western spin on it (like…
white style chinese comedy).

I would go on… but you guys can catch another showing of something
similar if you’re interested.

I HAD A BLAST, well, almost a blast… cause I went late and
got a shitty seat on the side where I couldn’t see everything… and I bought a 2
hour parking pass, but the show went on for 2.5hours and I got a $40 dollar
fine… SO, if you go early, and pay for 3 horus worth of parking, than I can
guarantee you (in spirit), that you’ll have a blast!

Hip and Hapa and Happening for May 18-21, 2007

Hip and Hapa and Happening for May 18-21, 2007

Lots happening this long holiday weekend.  But I can't type much because of my injured finger – or get out much.

Asian Heritage Month continues with many events during the explorASIAN festival.
Check out writer Luis Francia

'Too Asian to be American, too American to be Asian' – May 15 to 18

“Too Asian to be American, too American to be Asian” with Luis Francia
Luis Francia is the PEN award winning author of
“Eye of the Fish: a Personal Archipelago”. This is an account of the
author’s childhood memories of his Philippine homeland and his visits
back as an adult journalist.

One of my favorite events is the annual VACT Sketch-off. Lots of local talent including “Lick the Wax Tadpole” organized by CBCer and Hot Sauce Posse veteran Charlie Cho.  Come see the event that featured “Assaulted Fish” before they became famous…  Bring your friends, so you can organize a team for next year.

May 18 and May 19
Roundhouse Community Centre Theatre, Vancouver

comedy night time again and this year, we have 6 new sketch groups
competing for the coveted Vancouver Rice Bowl. Etch-YOUR-Sketch
SKETCHOFF!#$%!! – 8th Annual Asian Comedy Night is happening on Friday,
May 18th and Saturday, May 19th. The first night, the teams are judged
by people in the industry and on the 2nd night, the audience is the
judge with their applause and measured with a decibel reader. Teams
have a chance to win up to $350!

Vancouver Children's Festival is always a lot of fun, and there is always a lot of multicultural entertainment.  I am hoping to check out the Vietnamese Water Puppets.  Sounds very cool!

Vietnamese Water Puppets – May 15, 16, 18, 19, 20

30th Annual Vancouver International Children's Festival at Vanier Park

Tickets at Ticketmaster

Vietnamese Water Puppets
Duration: 55 minutes

May 15, 16, 18, 19, 20

An ancient performance art is brought to life by skilled puppeteers.

“…reflects the true beauty of Vietnam – a country of colour, grace and humour.” San Francisco Chronicle

as expert puppeteers make glittering fairies dance, fiery dragons
seethe and gentle ducks paddle – all inside an elaborate set created in
a pool of water! Enraptured audiences will witness the magic of this
800-year-old traditional Vietnamese performance art, from moments of
mirror-like calm to churning action.

Asian Canadian standup comics are on the rise.  Remember Tommy Chong, Pat Morita and Jack Soo?  Well the newest generation is here now, and they are coming to River Rock Show Theatre.  Paul Bae and Jeffery Yu have both been featured by Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre for past productions.  They are hilarious… you will want to bring your friends, so you won't have to tell them what they missed.

The A-list Comedy Tour 2007 – May 19 – 8pm

River Rock Show Theatre, Richmond, BC
Check out the A-list Comedy Tour which features the most hilarious Asian comedians in Canada: Ron Josol, Paul Bae & Jeffrey Yu.