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Exploring changing Chinatowns and diasporas

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Contact:
Jan Walls, 604.731.7855, jan.walls@sfu.ca
Paul Crowe, 778.782.5111, 778.782.4664, pcrowe@sfu.ca
Shuyu Kong, 778.782.5331, c: 604.345.6868, shuyu_kong@sfu.ca
Edith Lo, 778.782.5089, lo@sfu.ca
Carol Thorbes, 778.782.3035, cthorbes@sfu.ca


May 6, 2009
No

A unique three-day conference hosted by the David Lam Centre at Simon Fraser University will explore how Chinese immigrants are coping with maintaining historical legacies while trying to be good Canadians.

Chinatown and Beyond will also explore how Chinese immigrants’ evolving identities have eroded Chinatowns globally and how these pioneer communities can be preserved as vibrant cultural legacies.

The conference runs May 13-15 at SFU's Vancouver campus at Harbour Centre. It will be the first in British Columbia to use the fate of Chinatowns globally as a metaphor for examining how Asians overseas struggle to maintain their own cultural heritage in a new homeland.

“Being a good ethnic Canadian means adapting to the cultural norms and socio-economic goals of the host culture,” says Jan Walls, the founder of the David Lam Centre and an advisor to this conference’s organizers.

“Like many ethnic immigrants, Asian Canadians maintain a dual identity. One casts them as increasingly successful movers and shakers in all areas of Canadian, Australian and American society, particularly politics and trade relations. The other casts them as faithful guardians and observers of their birth country’s culture, language and traditions.”

Paralleling identity issues, says Walls, an SFU humanities professor emeritus and well-known architect of Asia-Canada bridging initiatives, is the decline of Chinatowns that once housed Canada’s pioneer builders.

“Today only a fraction of B.C.’s burgeoning Asian population lives in Vancouver’s Chinatown, a once thriving pioneer community that is now beset by the drug problems and homelessness that plague its downtown eastside setting,” notes Walls.

Globally recognized architect Bing Thom will kick off the conference with a keynote address at a reception on May 13 at SFU’s Segal School of Business.

A media roundtable will bring together representatives from eight Lower Mainland Chinese Canadian media to evaluate their achievement of two goals— helping their audiences become good Canadians and keeping them abreast of the news.

On May 14, there will be a $100-a-ticket gala dinner at Floata Restaurant to raise funds for Chinatown’s revitalization in Vancouver. It has already attracted 400 registrants—primarily business, urban planning and cultural leaders.

On May 15, Joe Wai, a Chinatown activist and architect for Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, will lead a tour of the garden, starting from the Chinatown Millennium Gate.

See: http://www.cic.sfu.ca/chinatownschedule.html for full details on the conference’s events and speakers.

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Shue Tuck Wong

What is the registration fee to participate in this interesting conference? Is there s special rate for retired people to attend the conference? Thanks. STW.