Community News & Events

Annual President’s Report 2021

Leticia Sanchez, President of VAHMS

On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society, it gives me great pleasure to present our Annual Report. 

Since its inception, VAHMS has opened dialogues about equity, inclusion, diversity, and collaboration by inviting our diverse communities to come together and celebrate the many Pan-Asian heritages and cultures that enrich the harmonious diversity of Canada. 

explorASIAN Festival has provided a means for those who identify as Asian & Asian Canadians to show their talents and access audiences. It has encouraged public and private educational institutions and cultural organizations to collaborate in celebrating Asian Heritage Month. 

Today, we recognise all the accomplishments that previous board members, senior advisors, partner organizations, sponsors, donors, and volunteers achieved in past years. At the same time, we congratulate the VAHMS team for the good work, and great success achieved by transforming and delivering a complete virtual explorASIAN Festival in a challenging 2020. 

2021 is a crucial year to improve many aspects of the organization; especially, the challenging situation on hand to maintain financial stability. This is a year to take strong action and come forward in support of VAHMS to raise the much-needed funding.

VAHMS is in its third year of the Strategic Direction 2019-2021, the implementation and completion of our goals has seen periods of success in difficult times. We have reached great milestones in terms of growth by presenting more than 50 events in May, connecting with audiences at local & National levels, the events we produced, and the increase on our online platforms’ attendance. More importantly, the learning opportunities have enriched the organization and its explorASIAN Festival.

On that note: The graphs show the increase in audience reach from 2017 to 2020, as well as the Social media increase in 2019 and 2020.

Last year’s “Pan-Asian Cultural Connections” aimed at furthering VAHMS vision and expanding integration and sense of community. We, as many other cultural organizations, have faced great challenges, but we have been resilient to adapt and learn from whatever the circumstances.

Our accomplishments in 2020:

  • We were granted monies from Canadian Heritage, and City of Vancouver
  • We kept our expenditures within budget
  • We developed a marketing and communications strategy and a cohesive and updated branding for VAHMS and explorASIAN Festival. 
  • We reached out to more cities in Metro Vancouver and renovated alliances with our long-time partners
  • We produced the Vancouver Satellite working groups during the 2nd National Asian Heritage Symposium in Montreal, and we are now connected with other Asian Heritage Month organizations in Canada
  • The Digital Strategy, Education, and Critical Issues for Asian Canadians virtual Working Groups now allow us to work and connect directly with Montreal, Manitoba, Toronto, Edmonton, and New Brunswick.
  • The lock down of mayor Cities in Metro Vancouver forced us to cancel our festival and fundraising events. Despite the circumstances, our quick response to the challenges, allowed us to reinvent explorASIAN festival by producing it 100% virtually and promoting 39 of the original 50 events scheduled in May
  • VAHMS Director, Jasper Sloan Yip, led the virtual components of the 2020 Festival 
  • We continued the virtual Interconnected touring exhibitions on the website
  • Director Shahid Abrar ul-Hassan led four bi-monthly VAHMS connections events.
  • VPL prepared the Asian Heritage reading list that can be found on our website

Our Challenges in 2020 

  •  Our financial growth took a hard hit due to the cancellation of our Fundraising Gala event, and Silent Auction. 
  • Many our stakeholders and sponsors had to suspend their community support programs to put more resources into community health and services. 
  • The lack of enough grant adjudications has put our financial stability at risk.  I recognize we have a challenging situation on hand as VAHMS needs to raise enough funds for 2022.

Some of the initiatives put on hold in 2020, have been restarted:

  • Collaboration with non-Asian and Indigenous communities and organizations to expand our educational programming.
  • Seek more fundraising, and secure enough donations for the Silent Auction.
  • Attract volunteers and retain those who are already supporting our initiatives 

The Strategic Direction 2021–2023 will build on the successes delivered under the previous plan and will continue to guide VAHMS mission of fostering, promoting, and celebrating Asian- Canadian arts and culture.

To consolidate our efforts in 2021 we will

  • Review and update our strategic Plan
  • Produce a 5-year business plan to direct our efforts to attain our main objectives of:
  • Educating the wider community about the importance of knowing more about Asian Heritage. 
  • Creating opportunities for Asian-Canadians to network, collaborate and expand their outreach 
  • Facilitating and promoting explorASIAN festival and partner events
  • Providing a safe platform to address critical issues facing Asian-Canadians and discussing solutions that foster inclusion, equity, and diversity 
  • Securing collaborations with our cultural partners to develop a shared language of unity to discuss matters of reconciliation, equity, anti-racism, cultural competence, accessibility, and shared values.

To attain these objectives, we are determined to continue producing virtual and live streamed events to generate more cultural awareness of the Pan Asian-Canadian communities and their heritage 

The 25th Anniversary of explorASIAN programming will be possible thanks to VAHMS collaboration with cultural institutions and community organizations that are coming together to enhance the celebration of Asian Heritage Month. 

  • Our Virtual Recognition Awards main fundraising event 2021 will include an online Silent Auction 
  • We have secured collaborations with our partners to produce meaningful events.
  • the Interconnected, project will add a monthly virtual artist spotlight to network and build new relationships with Galleries Curators, and VAHMS. 
  • VAHMS Connections educational program will continue delivering its bi-monthly events.
  • Critical and Digital Strategy working groups meetings will be mainly hosted by VAHMS.
  • The Board of Directors has considered the importance to acquire a Charitable status for the organization to better support VAHMS fundraising efforts. The process started last year and will continue in 2021.
  • The 2021 Resource Development Committee will increase Grant applications, Donation Campaigns & Sponsorships.
  • The Marketing and Communications Committee will work towards increasing social media posts, blogs, and virtual events. 
  • Increasing awareness amongst local university students in Asian Area Studies, International Relations, and Local organizations.
  • Providing board, members, staff, and volunteers with a sense of fulfillment by involving them in participating events, public campaigns, and learning opportunities. 

2021 also marks my last term as President and Director of VAHMS. Since I started as a member in 2015, VAHMS has provided me the pleasure to work with many talented people and the opportunity to give back to society. VAHMS has always been an inclusive, respectful, and vibrant organization that has opened opportunities for all of us to thrive. I have been very proud of being part of VAHMS and all that we do for artists and organizations to come together and celebrate Asian Heritage Month.

It will not be easy to move on, but all good things come to an end, and when I finish my term, I will keep all the experiences treasured in my heart. 

I will finish with a Thomas Emerson quote that exemplifies our efforts.

“Learn from the past, live in the Present, and prepare for the future”

Respectfully submitted,

Leticia Sanchez, President

Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society