Community News & Events

Our Virtual Opening Ceremony: Illumination of City Hall

Footage from our Virtual Opening Ceremony courtesy of TriCities TV

On the evening of May 1st, 2020, Vancouver City Hall will be illuminating in red to signal the opening of Asian Heritage Month in Canada and the start of Virtual explorASIAN. To commemorate the occasion, VAHMS will be live-streaming the event on explorASIAN’s Facebook page from the north steps of city hall. We will be joined by local musicians Vince Mai, Noriko Kim Kobayashi, and Kage, who will perform the explorASIAN theme song.

From left to right: Vince Mai, Noriko Kim Kobayashi, Kage

Before the COVID-19 public health crisis emerged, VAHMS had been hard at work in partnership with Simon Fraser University planning our opening ceremony at the beautiful Fei & Milton Wong theatre, located at SFU’s Woodward’s campus. In addition to performances by Vince, Kage, and Noriko, VAHMS had planned to present performances by Bharatanatyam Artist Sujit Vaidya and the inter-cultural music of Tung/Hasselberg/Escamillan.

From left to right: Sujit Vaidya, Lan Tung of Tung/Hasselberg/Escamillan

Our program also included a welcome and greeting from Wade Grant on behalf of the Musqueam Nation, remarks from Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry, Deputy Mayor Rebecca Bligh and Minister George Chow representing three levels of goverment, as well as an addresses from Dr. Laurie Anderson and Dr. Paul Crowe on behalf of Simon Fraser University. While we can no longer gather in-person hear these wonderful speakers, they have been kind enough to share a few words with us here.

Leticia Sanchez, President, VAHMS

Dear VAHMS friends,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you this evening. Thank you for joining us to celebrate the beginning of our 24th Asian Heritage Month through our Virtual ExplorASIAN Festival 2020.

As the world faces this unprecedented health crisis. The solidarity, strength, and compassion that our communities have shown to flatten the curve and help us recover is a constant proof of the resilience that has characterized all Canadians. Asian Heritage Month reminds us all of the many past and present contributions that Pan-Asian communities have made to build the society we live in today: From those who have faced discrimination and hardships to those who have brought their talents and knowledge to strengthen our culture and economy; they have all enhanced our diverse cultural spectrum. The Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society has centered its efforts in giving voice to all Pan-Asian communities and has continued its commitment to showcasing their rich culture, heritage, and valuable contributions. Whether a virtual cultural event, poetry, performance, or movie screening, the diversity and cultural richness that Pan-Asian cultural heritage brings to the community will be evident all this May through our Virtual explorASIAN Festival.

I want to thank all our partners, organizations, artists, performers, VAHMS Directors, Festival Coordinator, and especially you for actively supporting Asian Heritage Month celebrations.

Hon. Anne Kang, Member of the Legislative Assembly, Burnaby-Deer Lake, Minister of Citizens’ Services

Hon. George Chow, P.Eng.
Member of the Legislative Assembly,


I would like to start by acknowledging that this statement is being made on the traditional, unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. We are fortunate to live, work, and play on their territories and I raise my hands to them.

In these challenging times, it is important that we can still come together as a community however we
can. I want to thank the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society for continuing its longstanding tradition of hosting celebrations that speak to our cultural diversity and our history.

In British Columbia we are fortunate to live in one of the most diverse provinces in Canada. We have much to celebrate as Asian Canadians who have contributed to every aspect of our society. Our elders have endured and triumphed in the face of adversity, hardship, and discrimination. Today and every day, we remain resolute in our commitment to not repeat the wrongs of the past and to build a better, more just and equitable future for everyone.

We are stronger, more diverse, and more resilient while embodying our cultural values of collaboration and care for our communities. I see this all over Vancouver as Asian Canadians step up to give back especially in these challenging times. To name a few examples of what I know are many, young adults are preparing and distributing care packages for Chinese seniors in Chinatown. The Khalsa Diwan Society donated gloves and safety masks to frontline workers and as we all know, there are many Asian Canadians working in our healthcare system to keep us safe and healthy.

As we take time over the month of May to celebrate those who have come before us and ponder our collective future, I wish all of you the best of health and happiness as we take care of our families, neighbours, and elders. In the words of Dr. Henry, “be kind, be calm, be safe”. We will see each other again soon!

 Rebecca Bligh, Vancouver City Councillor

Thank you for inviting the City of Vancouver to participate in the opening of the virtual explorASIAN Festival for 2020.

The history of Asian immigration in Canada can be traced back to more than one hundred and fifty years ago when Chinese workers arrived in the west coast and joined the workers to build the Pacific Railway in the mid-nineteenth century. Asian Canadians not only physically helped to build Canada, but also culturally enriched its diversity, which has become an important characteristic of Canada. As a Vancouver City Councillor I’m delighted to mark the start of this important festival that celebrates the Asian Canadian community through arts and culture.

In the light of the current public health concerns surrounding COVID-19, we are faced with the difficult reality that many of the events planned in our communities during Asian Heritage Month will be postponed. While this will certainly have a tremendous impact on explorASIAN 2020, I am honored that we can continue celebrating Asian Heritage Month and supporting our Pan-Asian communities to the best of our ability and bring that celebration into our homes and stay connected.

Cultural events like explorASIAN Festival are a critical part of what makes Vancouver a vibrant, diverse and creative place to live, work and play, and we are thrilled to see that the community has come together to bring this incredible event to life for people to enjoy safely from their homes.

Each year, the City invests in events and organizations, like explorASIAN Festival, with more than $13 million in grant streams including operating, annual assistance, project, community arts, theatre rental grants, arts capacity, and the independent artists’ fund.

Now is a time where arts and culture are needed more than ever to maintain community and connection.

We’re thrilled that festivals like this exist in our City and look forward to a month of interesting and engaging virtual events. And next year we will celebrate the art, culture and heritage and greet each other in person.

A big thank you to the volunteers, artists, donors and board members who make explorASIAN festival possible.

Honourable Hedy Fry,
P.C., Member of Parliament,
Vancouver Centre

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to you on the virtual opening of Asian Heritage Month in Canada and the explorASIAN Festival 2020.

Over the month of May, let us celebrate the contributions of the Asian community. From literally ‘building Canada’ during the construction of the Pacific Railway to fighting in both WWI & WII, Asian Canadians have contributed to our country’s success for decades. Thank you to the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society for bringing attention to these important contributions of Asian Canadians over the past 24 years.

I wish all of you good health during these trying times. If you are able, look out at Vancouver City Hall from your window or live-stream the event online to see the light display in celebration of our Asian community. Let us also speak loudly against the rise of ignorance, discrimination, and hatred against Asian Canadians.

Dr. Tuti W. Irman,
Consul General of the
Republic of Indonesia

I am pleased to congratulate to the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society to celebrate the beginning of the 24th Asian Heritage Month through Virtual Opening Ceremony ExplorASIAN Festival 2020.

In this current public health concerns surrounding COVID-19, we fully understand that we are facing this difficult time together. Many of the events planned in our communities during Asian Heritage Month are postponed.

While this will certainly have a tremendous impact on ExplorASIAN 2020, I am pleased that the celebration of the Asian Heritage Month can be continued virtually, to enhance friendships and cooperation.

The diversity of British Columbia brings to mind the diversity of Indonesia. We both celebrate this diversity which enriches our communities as we path the way forward.

Thank you to Leticia Sanchez and all of the VAHMS board members as well as the dedicated volunteers who have risen to the challenge of putting together a multicultural ASIAN Heritage Month Festival this year.

I extend best wishes for a successful virtual celebration.

Michael Min Woo Chang
Ambassador for

Seoul Metropolitan Council

I am delighted to congratulate the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society for celebrating the 24th Asian Heritage Month by Virtual Opening Ceremony for ExplorAsian Festival 2020.

We are in uncharted territory due to COVID-19 and it challenges us in many ways. But we always find a way to connect and celebrate our profound cultures.

Multiculturalism in British Columbia is thriving because of events like this, which brings us together and allows us to stand in solidarity.

Special thanks to Ms. Leticia Sanchez, board members and volunteers who made this Multicultural Festival possible. We are meeting virtually this year but may we gather face to face in the near future to share our stories.

Best wishes to everyone’s well-being and the Festival.

Laurie Anderson: Executive Director, SFU Vancouver

Simon Fraser University (SFU) is proud to be a long time partner of the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society. The VAHMS and SFU share common values: we’re committed to celebrating the rich arts and cultural heritage of Asia, we value the diverse and inclusive contributions to Canada made by the Asian diaspora, and share the VAHMS’ pledge, as grateful settlers, to reconciliation with the First Peoples of the country.

While we will all miss the live perfomances of the festival this year, we commend the creativity of the performers and VAHMS for putting on a virtual celebration of Asian arts and culture. On behalf of SFU, I want to commend everyone involved for their resilience and their commitment to keeping the spirit of the VAHMS alive during these challenging times.  Best wishes for a wonderful virtual celebration!

Dr. Paul Crowe
Chair, Department of Humanities, SFU

On behalf of the David Lam Centre and the Department of Humanities at Simon Fraser University I am very pleased to offer a note of congratulations to the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society. At SFU the David Lam Centre and the Department of Humanities share VAHMS’ commitment to fostering communication and understanding between people of varied cultural origins through our public programming and in the classroom.

Thank you to all of the VAHMS board members and dedicated volunteers who have risen to the challenge of putting together a rich Virtual ExplorASIAN Festival 2020. Every year VAHMS assembles a truly impressive array of visual and literary arts, music, and talks, opening spaces for mutual understanding that serve as the ground for building friendships and community cooperation. I look forward to being online on May 1st, to join the virtual opening ceremony of exploreASIAN 2020 at Vancouver City Hall.

Vincent Kwan, Executive Director
Dr. Sun. Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

We celebrate Asian heritage month together as one community, a community that we know finds its true strength in diversity. I want to congratulate the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society on its continuously amazing work and impact made in our community.

Our Opening Ceremony was also going to serve as a preview to VAHMS’s newest project Interconnected, which explores the concept of connectivity among artists while learning about the diverse Pan-Asian art and culture in Metro Vancouver. VAHMS is now presenting Interconnected virtually through our website, where you can find exhibitions from the following galleries and artists: Semiahmoo Arts, Lam Wong & Glenn Lewis, Capulet Art Gallery, and Alin’s Art Studio.

We hope you can join our livestream from the comfort and safety of your homes on May 1st to help us celebrate art, culture, and connectivity during these unprecedented times.