Creating space for transformative conversations

Establishing a Chinese Canadian Museum in British Columbia

November 15, 2018 - August 31, 2019
Print

Background

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.

The Project

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 EnglishTraditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.

Phase 1 - Online Feedback 

Phase One of Establishing a Chinese Canadian Museum in British Columbia featured an online survey. Some of the key questions included:

  • What types of stories should the Museum tell?
  • What type of exhibits should the museum hold?
  • Suggestions for locations, sites or organizations that could act as spokes for a Chinese Canadian Museum.

Phase One was designed to support the framing and planning for the community meetings that followed in Phase Two. 

A full list of questions and responses can be found in the What We Heard Report.

Phase 2 - In-person Community Meetings

Phase Two of Establishing a Chinese Canadian Museum in British Columbia featured a series of eight community dialogue sessions in five cities across British Columbia, hosted by Minister Chow. Close to 500 people attended these discussions. 

Each dialogue was designed and facilitated by the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Dialogue participants were asked to discuss three questions:

  1. How might the museum bridge the past and the present in B.C. Chinese Canadian culture?
  2. How will British Columbia be different after the creation of a B.C. Chinese Canadian museum?
  3. Imagine that you’ve engaged with the museum physically and virtually. What is it like? What do you see? How does it feel?

For those that were unable to attend an in-person session and to ensure the process was accessible to all, a second online questionare was launched to collect input on the same three questions. 

Language accessibility was a priority for this project which was conducted entirely in three languages: Cantonese, Mandarin and English. Interpreters were also present at the in-person events. 

Partner Organization:

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. 

"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