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Establishing a Chinese Canadian Museum in British Columbia
Over the past couple of years, the Province of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver have been working together to have Vancouver’s Chinatown designated a United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site. More recently, the Province and the City committed to establishing a Chinese Canadian Museum for the people of British Columbia and visitors to the Province.
Establishing a Chinese Canadian Museum in British Columbia was a partnership between the Province of British Columbia and SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, designed to engage citizens across the Province and collect ideas for the inital stages of museum planning.
Establishing a Chinese Canadian Museum in British Columbia was a province-wide, two-phased public engagement process, featuring online engagement activities and a series of in-person community dialogues.
Led by the Honourable George Chow, Minister of State for Trade and supported by the Honourable Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, as well as the 22 members of the Chinese Canadian Museum Working Group, the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue designed and facilitated an interactive process which engaged more than 900 citizens and generated over 8,000 website visits.
Throughout the engagement, citizens were asked to inform the vision for a Chinese Canadian Museum, its characteristics, as well as the ways the Museum could help bridge past and present to transform British Columbian culture. Several important themes emerged from the engagement including:
- The importance of highlighting the entire spectrum of Chinese Canadian history and culture, both good and bad, to build understanding and respect for Chinese Canadian heritage and culture;
- The importance of celebrating Chinese immigrants’ and settlers’ achievements and contributions to the building of the Province of British Columbia and to Canada;
- The creation of a space that takes visitors on an interactive journey through time, from the historical wrongs that occurred, to moving forward towards an inclusive, unbiased future; and
- The hope that the Museum will combine history and contemporary culture and serve as a bridge for all different facets of Chinese Canadian heritage.
The citizen ideas and comments collected through this project will directly inform the creation of a Chinese Canadian Museum and help to shape its vision, sites and programs. Detailed input and feedback gathered from both phases was compiled in a What We Heard report published in English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.
On Thursday, July 16th, 2020, the B.C. government announced that it has invested $10 million to establish the Chinese Canadian Museum – the first to ever exist in Canada.
“In reaching this milestone, I’m so thankful of the support and advice from the museum working group, as well as Simon Fraser University’s Wosk Centre for Dialogue. They have been instrumental in making sure this museum is developed in collaboration with the Chinese Canadian community and stakeholders throughout the province.
We are grateful to the public for providing valuable input on how the future Chinese Canadian Museum should preserve and celebrate the contributions of British Columbians of Chinese descent."
– The Honourable George Chow, Minister of State for Trade
Starting in 2012, the B.C. government has put a concerted emphasis on involving British Columbians in the programs, policies and services that directly affect their lives. As a result the Citizen Engagement Team was formalized within Government Communications and Public Engagement (GCPE) to help ministries create engagement opportunities to meet our commitment to transparent, inclusive and responsive governance.
Select Media & Commentary
Councillor suggests building Chinese Canadian museum in Richmond, Richmond News (February 18, 2019)
Ideas being sought for new Chinese Canadian Museum, Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal (January 9, 2019)
Victoria’s Chinatown looking to host a Chinese Canadian Museum, Victoria Nesa (December 27, 2018)
B.C. government seeks public input about potential Chinese Canadian museum, Georgia Straight (December 17th, 2018)
New museum to tell story of Chinese Canadians in B.C, BC Gov News (July 16th, 2020)