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, and for sharing in unique intercultural events through explorASIAN during the month of May and throughout the year.
Shahid Abrar-ul-Hassan, PhD (The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC), has been working as a language educator and researcher for over two decades at institutions of higher education in several regions of the world. He is currently a language educator and works in Vancouver, BC. He also serves as a subject expert with the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education in Vancouver. He has previously taught at the University of British Columbia and the University of the Fraser Valley. Shahid has served in several key leadership roles with professional and non-profit organizations in Canada, USA, and South Korea. His work received a number of honors including an Alumni Achievement Award (2018) from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, USA, which is his alma mater. Shahid is eager to promote the Asian heritage in the Lower Mainland and serve his diverse community.
Valentine Ostaszewski is currently working for the Trade Commissioner Service at Global Affairs Canada. She has experience in content marketing and international relations and trade, particularly between East Asia and Canada. She completed her Bachelors in East Asian Studies from the University of British Columbia and then moved to Kyoto, Japan to pursue graduate studies in International Relations at Ritsumeikan University. Once finishing her degree, she moved back to Vancouver to work at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada to promote Asia-Canada relations. A couple of years later, she decided to go on a new adventure and moved to Seoul, South Korea to work in sales and consultancy. In 2020, she returned to Vancouver and co-founded Daewon Solutions, a content marketing and web design company for both English and Korean speakers in Vancouver.
Leticia Sanchez is an M.Ed. from Anahuac University, Mexico City, Certified Overseas Teacher of English from Cambridge University via the British Council, and the Universidad Ibero-Americana in Mexico. Leticia’s areas of expertise in the field of education are instruction, curriculum development, counselling, and administration at the Ibero-Mexicano Institute and Cenca Institute in the State of Mexico. She moved to Vancouver in 2004 and worked as a Gallery Administrator, Director of Retail, Exhibitions Curator & Programmer, and Head of Cultural Experience at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Her strong interest in the impact of art and heritage on the well-being and development of communities led her to become an independent art exhibitions curator and producer, especially with Asian Art and communities. Leticia has collaborated with private galleries, educational institutions, and consulates to develop exhibitions and events that bring public awareness of the diverse Pan-Asian art and culture, cultural heritage, competence, diversity, and inclusion. Leticia joined the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society in 2015 and was appointed President of the Board in 2018. Recently, she joined the Heritage Vancouver Society’s Board of Trustees and is involved in the Strategic Planning, the JEDI, and the Nominations Committees. As a consultant, Leticia provides support on cultural and educational projects, community initiatives, and Board Governance. She has served as an advisor to the Exhibits & Programming Advisory Committee, University of British Columbia’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, VAHMS, and the 2nd National Asian Heritage Month Symposium, Montreal Quebec, 2020. She is a member of the BC Museums Association, The Canadian Society for Asian Arts, the Chinese Canadian Historical Society, and the CanAsian Arts Network. Leticia remains committed to promoting cross-cultural interactions and appreciation for Canadian arts, culture, and heritage.
Jimmy Yan, BSE, MEd., is the Project and Information Officer of Access Pro Bono. Jimmy is a columnist of the City Post of Singtao News and has been a media commentator on issues of public legal education and information since 2008. He is also a research assistant of The Centre for Education, Law, and Society in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University and a CELS educational advisor to the Chinese community. Meanwhile, Jimmy has served on the Boards of many committees with the Royal Commonwealth Society, Mainland BC Branch as well as the Royal Society of St. George, BC Branch.
Sherry Hadian Z. Moghaddam is a language instructor and instructional designer in Vancouver Downtown. She holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Simon Fraser University. She has been teaching English to diverse populations in the Middle East and Canada for over a decade now. She is passionate about art and cultural heritage preservation, and she has a strong interest in supporting Iranian/Farsi art and culture within the cultural mosaic of the Lower Mainland.
Patricia brings over 30 years’ senior-level experience leading social service organizations. She has led organizations in diverse sectors including legal services, victim/witness services, health care, community services and children services. A pioneering leader in immigrant and refugee services, Patricia has been globally recognized for championing a first-of-its-kind service delivery model for newcomers. Over the years, Patricia has been a pro-active supporter of disenfranchised clients and has been instrumental in the implementation and development of new programs and services throughout the province. She has consulted on both national and international social service programming. Patricia has served on numerous boards and committees including Mayor’s Working Group on Immigration and Immigrant Integration Coordinating Committee and currently also serves on both Regional and National Corrections Canada Service advisory committees and on TRAC – Tenants Resource & Advisory Centre and Immigrant Integration Coordinating Committee. In 2017, Patricia received the YWCA Women of Distinction award for Non-Profits and the Community Social Services Awards of Excellence in 2019.
She continues to be an active volunteer in a variety of capacities within her own community.
Fred Soofi studied Hotel Management and Economics at the University of Regina. Restaurateur Pasta Polo in Coquitlam and Club Ilia Eatery & Lounge at SFU Burnaby. A Canadian resident since 1974, small business owner/operator, and community advocate. Past Board of Directors of the following non-profit organizations: Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce, Coquitlam Foundation, Laurel Foundation, ACCESS Youth Services, Advisory Committee on Light Rapid Transit, City of Coquitlam Multicultural Advisory Committee, Chair of the Tri-City Iranian Cultural Society. At present, on the Board of Directors of the Port Moody Seniors Friendship Society, Coquitlam Heritage Society. Awards: Federal government Citation for Citizenship award (1994); nominated for the Order of Canada (2000); Spirit of Community Volunteerism Award (2004) and the Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2005), Port Moody Heritage Award (2007 and 2012), recipient of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year (2012), Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award (June 2016).
Kiana Hipolito is an interdisciplinary artist, illustrator and graphic designer from Vancouver, on the unceded Coast Salish Territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Kiana obtained her BFA in illustration from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2018, which includes her studies at Falmouth University (United Kingdom) in 2017. She currently works as an attendant at the Richmond Art Gallery as well as Canadian Art Prints and Winn Devon Group Inc. as a graphic designer in addition to her art and design practices. Kiana’s use of texture and colour within her work often narrates themes of (mis)communication, cultural identity and shared diasporic experience observed in communities present in North America. Kiana also enjoys illustrating for young readers, often creating colour works inspired by the nature of the Pacific Northwest, and the curiosities hiding in plain sight.
Jessica Lam was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Vancouver at the age of one. She is a BA Communications, minor English Literature graduate from SFU. Her future as a creative entrepreneur began when she learned how acclaimed local marketing firms like Hamazaki Wong as well as global networks like J. Walter Thompson told stories to, and built relationships with, their clients’ audiences. Having worked with global brands like Coca-Cola and Starbucks in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Jessica has decided to focus on creating her original work, in her start-up venture which allows children to virtually collaborate on creative projects, and tell her story in the form of comedy, music and dance. She is a devoted supporter of her local community, having been a key part of organizations such as the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society in the past. Now she intends to apply her skills and passion to the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society to help strengthen the voice of the Festival and its artists, and its relationships with the community.
Judy Lam Maxwell is a local Chinese Canadian, a trained historian (MA from UBC), and a specialist in Chinatowns around the world. She is an activist and advocate for Chinatown’s well-being, protection, and continuity. She has been very active in Chinatown for more than 20 years, on the boards of numerous Chinatown committees, and has been a member of many Chinatown organizations in North America. Judy has also volunteered and participated in Vancouver’s Japanese and Punjabi communities, which brings a perspective of cultural diversity to her thinking, ideas, and contributions. On the Board of VAHMS, she hopes to assist in bringing to the table an extensive network of contacts that she has in these diverse communities, as well as promotion in other organizations that she belongs to (i.e. Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, International Wine & Food Society, etc.). In addition, Judy is the founder and director of two Chinatown businesses: Historical Chinatown Tours (2010) and Masterclass Dumplings (2016). Both have been very successful, and she prides herself in educating people about the history, culture/intangibles, and the significance of Chinatowns whether in-person, through social media, or through her e-newsletters. She is very proud of Vancouver’s multicultural dynamic and the organizations that represent and celebrate diversity. She also cares deeply about her Chinatown community of elders, the heritage buildings, businesses, and other aspects that are invaluable to the community.
Yuhan Yu moved to Canada from Taiwan in 2001, speaks English, Mandarin, and Taiwanese. Due to her background and work experience, she is an expert in written translation between English and Chinese (both traditional and simplified) as well as verbal interpretations. After graduating from Emily Carr University of Art + Design, she worked for several jewelry and leather design firms. Caring and connecting with people from all over the world is something Yuhan truly enjoys. She has travelled and worked for several international corporations in Canada, Taiwan, and Australia, as well as been involved in volunteer, fundraising, and charity events in senior home, social service agencies, religious groups, hospital foundations, and Vancouver international airport. With strong networking skills and great employer relations, her role is to develop resources for VAHMS programs and fundraising events. She also supports language translation for VAHMS letters and posters.
Jasper Sloan Yip is a musician and radio producer from Vancouver, BC. His music career began in 2007 when he played his first show on a stage he built in his backyard. From there, he went on to put together a seven-piece band behind him with whom he has released four albums, and performed across Canada, in Europe, and the United States. When he is not on stage or in the studio, Jasper serves as the Programming Director at CiTR 101.9 FM and Discorder Magazine.
Jeffrey Chan is a retired pharmacist, after an accomplished and rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Born and raised in Vancouver he has worked and managed pharmacies at Woodward’s, Safeway, Macdonald’s Prescriptions, HBC Zellers, and Target. He was a Director for the HBC Pharmacy Division. He strived for positive health outcomes for all his patients and has taken this passion for success into his future endeavours. As a patron of the arts, he attends the VSO symphony, VAG events, and various charitable events regularly. He brings this love for arts and culture to VAHMS by supporting and committing to showcasing the Asian Canadian culture. A key player in the silent auction gala fundraiser he has contributed to its growing success in recent years. With his many contacts in the social landscape of the city, he strives to make each VAHMS fundraiser an overwhelming success.