About Us

Founded in 1996, Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society (VAHMS) is a non-profit society dedicated to recognizing Asian Canadian participation as an integral part of Canadian society. VAHMS organizes explorASIAN Festival, an annual festival every May that celebrates National Asian Heritage Month. The Festival’s mission is to promote understanding, and appreciation of Asian-Canadian arts, heritage, and culture. ExplorASIAN festival includes programs, activities and events produced in collaboration with various partners from the diverse communities in Metro Vancouver.

In its 24 years of not-for-profit work, the VAHMS has dedicated itself to promoting cultural and educational awareness of the diverse Pan-Asian cultures living in Vancouver. Our society has advocated for equity, inclusion, collaboration, and social integration of Asian-Canadian Communities in our multicultural society. At the same time, it has also opened social opportunities and strong partnerships for less-visible Pan-Asian communities by reaching out and to the many organizations, educational institutions, and individuals interested in knowing more about Asian Heritage, and inviting them to participate in our programming and support our vision.

Asian Canadian cultures in Canada include:

      • East Asia: China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan

      • South East Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, East Timor, Vietnam

      • South Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

      • Western Asia: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, State of Palestine, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

      • Central Asia: Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan

Our Vision

To recognize Asian Canadian participation as an integral part of Canadian society and celebrate the hybridization of all arts and culture in Canada.

Our Mission

Recognize and bring together Asian Canadian communities through
Culture, Education, and Social advocacy. 

Our Objectives

  • Invite the wider community to experience Asian Canadian arts and culture
  • Encourage and create opportunities for the public to learn about Asian Canadian communities in Canada
  • Provide a platform to address critical issues such as identity and social integration for Asian Canadians
  • Facilitate collaboration across and beyond Asian Canadian communities
  • Promote access to public arts and cultural institutions for all Canadian communities

Our Motto

Many cultures, Many Languages, One Celebration

Festival Vision

To produce a dynamic and exciting festival that will inspire people to appreciate, recognize and celebrate Asian-Canadian arts and culture in our multicultural society.

Festival Mission

Celebrate Asian Heritage Month to promote understanding and appreciation for Asian-Canadian cultures.

This year’s theme, Embracing Pan-Asian Communities, gives us an
opportunity to bring many different communities together through our
partner cultural organizations and events.

Core Values

High standards

VAHMS is dedicated to provide the best experience of Asian Canadian arts and culture to our multicultural society


VAHMS invites the wider communities to participate and collaborate beyond the Asian Canadian communities


VAHMS encourages and creates opportunities for the public to learn about Asian Canadian cultures


VAHMS provides platforms to address critical issues such as identity and social integration

Making it happen

VAHMS promotes access to public arts and cultural institutions for all Canadian communities


VAHMS was founded in 1996 by Mishtu Banerjee, Mo-Ling Chui, Grace Eiko Thomson, Jim Wong-Chu and Winston Xin, following the beginning of Asian Heritage celebrations in the USA and Toronto, Canada.

In 2001, Senator Vivienne Poy proposed a motion in the Senate to officially recognize Asian Heritage Month in the month of May. Other Canadian cities celebrating Asian Heritage Month include Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax and Fredericton.

Other Asian Heritage Month Celebration Nationwide

Canadians are invited to learn more about and celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian origin who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous nation it is today. For more information about the Asian Heritage Month nationwide, please check out the links below: