Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society (VAHMS) has a Board of Directors and staff with a passion for bringing together the Asian Canadian community and others, to share in unique intercultural events through explorASIAN during the month of May, and throughout the year.
Ken McAteer, President
Ken McAteer, B.Comm. M.Ed. is a former secondary school principal who has been active as a volunteer in various capacities. Community Awards: United Way Van Dusen Award for Outstanding Community Service and the AMSSA Riasat Ali Khan Award for Lifetime Dedication to the Promotion of Cultural Diversity. He is a Past President of the BC Principals and Vice Principals Association, Past Member Board of Directors of the Laurier Institution and Past Chair of the Advisory Council for the Provincial Ministry of Multiculturalism and Immigration. Scouts Canada Service: Past Commissioner BC and Yukon, Past Commissioner Pacific Coast Council and Past Member Board of Governors. For several years Ken assisted the Ismaili scholarship program by adjudicating submissions for the Youth Leadership Awards. Ken is the current President of VAHMS and believes in the need to stress identity for individuals, integration into the Canadian community, the hybridity of heritages and empathy for others in Canadian society.
Beverly Nann, Vice President
Beverly Nann, MSW, is a recipient of the Order of BC in recognition of a commitment of over 30 years to providing leadership in pioneering the development of organisations, programs and services in the multicultural and immigrant service sector including the Laurier Institution and the Vancouver and Burnaby School District Multicultural Home-School Liaison Workers. She has served on many national, provincial and local multicultural advisory bodies including the Immigration and Refugee Advisory Panel, the Provincial Advisory Council for Multiculturalism for the Minister of Multiculturalism and Immigration and the United Way. She is the Past Executive Director of the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC and she served as the first president of Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society. She is currently a Vice-President of VAHMS.
Esaine Mo Verney, Director
Esaine Mo Verney has been a Settlement Worker with the VSB SWIS Program since its establishment in 2007. She previously worked as an Executive Secretary in Hong Kong before moving to Canada in 1997. Upon her arrival, she immediately started working as an Administration Officer in the logistics industry. However, her career path quickly changed and became more in sync with her appreciation for multiculturalism and passion in supporting the community after working as a career facilitator with ISS of BC. Her experience working for multicultural diversity has further expanded along with her volunteer work on the board of Pacific Immigrant Resources Society (PIRS) and her ongoing role as a committee member with Parent Support Services of BC for over 15 years. On a personal level, Esaine has been very active in lots of social and community events playing various roles as MC, coordinator and planner, as well as singing on stage.
Leticia Sanchez, Director
Leticia Sanchez is the Head of Cultural Experience and Exhibitions at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Leticia is known as a proactive supporter of education and arts.
Originally a teacher and Language Teachers Coordinator in Mexico, she taught grades 1 to 9 for over 20 years, acted as a MEX-TESOL Treasurer, and was awarded the Best Teacher of the Year award at Instituto Cenca in Mexico City for five consecutive years. Certified as an Overseas Teacher of English from Cambridge University via the British Council and a Masters in Education from Anahuac University in Mexico, she has trained teachers and staff since 1996. Leticia’s business interest helped her improve the quality and productivity at the Museum Retail Department by selecting art and literature sold at the Garden Shop.
Leticia is the founder of the Arts and Exhibitions Committee at the Classical Chinese Garden and a freelance curator since 2012. “Embracing Multicultural Languages” in 2015, “Following the Silk Routes and Beyond in Vancouver” in 2016 and 2017 are some of her most recent curated exhibitions prepared for ExplorAsian, both displayed at the Chinese Cultural Centre, and Immigrant Services Society of BC. Leticia’s strong interest in fine arts has led her to bring many successful national and international exhibitions to the Classical Chinese Garden, and to support emerging artists by providing them with opportunities and spaces to show their artworks. Ms. Sanchez is part of the Board of directors at the Asian Heritage Month Society of Vancouver and acted as an advisor for the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Exhibits & Programming advisory Committee at UBC in 2016. Her 2018 projects involve the production and execution of the Exhibitions and the Museum’s facility conservation programs at the Classical Chinese Garden.
Ariadne Sawyer, Director
Ariadne Sawyer, MA, C.C., is the author of three books, a speaker, poetry judge and movie reviewer. She is the president of the World Poetry Reading Series Society, co-host and co-founder of World Poetry and related areas (www.worldpoetry.ca) Ariadne is the radio show co-host and producer of The World Poetry Café CFRO 102.7 FM, a weekly venue, promoting multilingual, intercultural poets, filmmakers, dancers and musicians. Ariadne enjoys creating special events such as festivals and her dream is to create a multilingual, intercultural travelling show and film on creativity. She believes that VAHMS brings together intercultural groups and gives them the support they need to empower themselves. As a director she will work towards empowering individuals and groups. Ariadne was the winner of the $5,000 prestigious MacLean Hunter award for programs of excellence for The Brain Bulletin Series, seven CD’s which have played on radio stations across Canada. She is currently working on her first novel, Journey of Love and Agony, and a book of dream poems called Love Poems to the World. She has done workshops on Creative Dreaming, the Immune system, how to use more of your brain, and several research projects. Her poems have been published internationally. As a Neurotherapist and Peak Performance Trainer, Ariadne loves doing research on the brain and seeing people transform themselves.
Toni Zhang McAfee, Director
Toni Zhang McAfee received her M.A. in Arts Administration and M.A. in Museology in the U.S. She has curated exhibitions of various arts and of Chinese residential architectural heritage. Since 2008 she has been working in Vancouver with local artists, historians, curators, designers, collectors and cultural organisations, including VAHMS, in the production of multicultural community arts programs. She has served on the boards of the Richmond Art Gallery and Cinevolution Media Arts Society. In her free time, she has organised cultural activities for the Grandmothers’ Support Group at the Richmond Women’s Resource Centre.
Alvin Tang, Director
Alvin Tang is the Founder and President of Target A Tutoring Company and Target A Travel Company, Events and Operations Assistant Manager at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Founder and Honorary President of SFU Sanguosha Student Club, Former Student Representative of SFU Asia-Canada Minor Program, and Former Student Liaison/Website Manager of SFU David Lam Centre. He has good working ethic with highly committed and responsible working habits, particular strengths in leadership, time-management and problem solving. He has volunteered and helped the organization to recruit volunteers for its opening and closing ceremonies at explorASIAN for the past 4 years.
Grace Chin, Secretary
Grace Chin is a marketing communications content specialist, editor, and arts administrator with SME, enterprise and not-for-profit clients, in both international and North American markets. A produced playwright, short film producer, anthologized short fiction writer, and performer for film and television. She is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Union of British Columbia Performers/ACTRA. In the arts and culture space, Grace has worked with Gateway Theatre, ARC Works, CBC Radio British Columbia, the Asian Canadian Writer’s Workshop, Theatre in the Raw, Channel M (now Omni), and Shaw Multicultural Channel. She was Festival Director of the Vancouver Asian Film Festival for five years, served a term on the board of Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, and co-produces the pan-Asian script reading series, Scripting Aloud. She has also contributed as a mentor at the annual C3 Korean Canadian Society Leadership Conference for the past eight years. Grace has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature (Honors, 1st Class) from the University of British Columbia, and accreditation in journalism from Langara College.
Leo Cunanan, Jr., Director
Leo Cunanan, Jr. was born in the Philippines and moved to Canada with his family when he was nine years old. His early interest was in music and at 21 he joined a band as a drummer and was touring with different bands, recording music professionally for a number of years. He is a member of SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada).
In the late nineties, he joined a family-owned publication, Dahong Pilipino as a graphic artist and advertising associate. He soon became its president and publisher. It is the first and only Filipino business and community directory in BC that has published continuously for the last 24 years. This year, Dahong Pilipino participated in the Asian Heritage Month by sponsoring the Filipino Movie Nights with VAHMS, Tulayan and Anybody Can Act Group.
Leo developed a strong interest in fine arts when he met Sym Mendoza, a famous artist in the Philippines who immigrated to Vancouver and became his mentor. He has been an artist for 17 years now and is an active member of the Federation of Canadian Artists. Leo has won several awards in the Federation of Canadian Artists’ exhibits and continues to paint in his free time. He is also the president of Dimasalang III Group of Artists, mostly Filipino-Canadians that aims to raise awareness of contemporary arts and culture, develop artistic talents and encourage a positive impact in the community. They have held several successful group exhibits, which helped expose their works in many community events including the celebration of Asian Heritage Month (Generation One – explorASIAN) in 2011 and 2012, Philippine Festivals and private functions. Leo is very active in the Filipino community.
Lalia Fraser, Executive Director