Asian Heritage Month


May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada – a month-long celebration recognizing the rich history of Asian peoples in Canada and their important contributions to society. It is an opportunity for all everyone in Canada to learn more about the many achievements and contributions of people of Asian descent who, throughout our history, have done so much to make Canada the amazing country we share today. Within our own locality, the Greater Vancouver Region is honored to have a diverse populace with nearly half of its community members being of Asian descent as well as speaking another language other than English. Langara is fortunate to be a neighbor to the Punjabi Market area and have communities like Chinatown, Japantown and Little Saigon nearby.  

Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated across Canada since the 1990s. In December 2001, the Senate of Canada adopted a motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy to officially designate May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. Over twenty years ago, in May 2002, the Government of Canada signed an official declaration to designate May as Asian Heritage Month. 

snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ Langara College also wants to recognize the incredible resilience, bravery, resistance, and collective action of Asian peoples within Canada, who, despite oppression, made positive change and achieved extraordinary accomplishments. Numerous immigration policies discriminated against Asian communities along with restrictions on civil liberties, including the right to vote. Some significant historical examples include the Chinese Head Tax, Japanese Internment and the Komagata Maru incident. Although full enfranchisement was achieved for all Asian Canadians in 1949, personal and systemic discrimination continue to this day, both insidiously and more visibly. For instance, income levels for some Asian communities are significantly lower than the national average in Canada and the rise in anti-Asian hate during the COVID-19 pandemic together illustrate ongoing prejudice.  

Despite barriers, people of Asian descent in Canada have succeeded: Adrienne Clarkson served as Governor General, Kim Nguyen was nominated for an Oscar for his film War Witch, David Sizuki galvanized Canadian environmentalism, Mahmud Jamal was appointed as a justice on the Supreme Court, and many athletes won Team Canada countless Olympic Medals. Along with these individual accomplishments, Asian peoples have both maintained, adapted, and shared their traditions and cultures thus enriching snəw̓eyəɬ leləm̓ Langara’s campus communities and Canada for which we are all grateful.  

Suggested Resources & Events

The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has curated a list of suggested resources which provide a variety of opportunities to learn, engage, support, and celebrate the diverse, vibrant, and growing Asian community in Canada.

We are aware this is not an exhaustive list and welcome your input. If you have suggestions for articles, podcasts, webinars, events, etc., we invite you to contact our office at


Education Use this collection of resources for reference all year long.

To begin, learn about Asian history in Canada using this fantastic timeline. To further develop your understanding, please learn using the follow recommended resources: 

Sikh Heritage BC 

  • Sikh Heritage BC is a volunteer run non-profit organization. Sikh Heritage Month was first celebrated in BC in 2018. Its purpose is to celebrate the contributions and aspirations of all Sikh-Canadians and develop a greater understanding and appreciation of a rich, unique and diverse heritage. Sikhs have been in BC for over 100 years and this is an opportunity to showcase their contribution to the economic, social, and cultural fabric of the province. This initiative is meant to help create awareness and appreciation for Sikhi in Canada. 

From the Langara Archives: Rethinking Asian Racialization in Pandemic Times

  • The Centre for Intercultural Engagement presented this talk in May 2021 that focused on Asian racialization during the pandemic to historicize this moment within longer histories of Asian migration and consider the different trajectories of particular Asian Canadian populations. The speakers, Dr. John Paul (JP) Catungal and Dr. Christine Kim, drew on their own research on Filipino and Korean diasporas during this talk and aimed to expand conversations about Asian Canadian identities and heritage to include social and economic structures and begin to imagine new, more socially just horizons. 

Langara Library: Asian Heritage Month Lib Guides

  • Explore resources related to Asian Heritage in Canada, Asian Canadian Fiction, Graphic Novels, and Cinema.

Vancouver Public Library: Asian Canadian History 

  • This collection from the Vancouver Public Library includes useful websites and digital library resources on Asian Canadian history.

Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada

  • Resources for Combatting Anti-Asian Racism & Learning About Canadians of Asian Descent.

The Government of Canada: Asian Heritage Month

  • These Asian Heritage Month resources from the Government of Canada feature organizations and educational resources, noteworthy Canadians of Asian descent, anti-Asian racism resources, and events in Asian Canadian history.

Uplift Asian

  • Uplift Asian is a series of programs to celebrate Asian cultures and perspectives and push back against discrimination in our communities. Discover authors and artists and hear discussions with Asian thinkers who represent a diversity of experiences across Asian communities in Vancouver. Watch replays from 2022 and see the new lineup of events for 2023.

National Film Board of Canada

  • Enjoy this curated selection of films that celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian descent who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous nation it is today.

Cold Tea Collective

  • Cold Tea Collective is a Vancouver-based, new media platform, sharing the real stories, perspectives, and experiences of North American Asian millennials. They are passionate about providing Asian millennials a platform to better understand and connect with themselves and the world around them.
Engage Watch this page for Asian Heritage Month 2024 Events!

May Festival hosted by Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society

Literasian Writers Festival

Japanese Calligraphy Workshop

Kōdō Incense Ceremony

Ikebana Flower Arrangement Exhibition

Nikkei Spring Bazaar 

Hong Kong Fair

TJ Fest

Visit the Chinese Canadian Museum

Tour, take a workshop or attend the Vancouver Art Gallery's Asian Heritage Month events

Visit the Polygon Gallery on May 23rd for their special Moon Gate event

Attend a free online workshop or event hosted by the North American Association of Asian Professionals - Toronto 

Listen Tune in to a wide variety of audio files at home or on the go.

Leader Talks with Anne-Marie Pham: Ep 9 | Level Chan

  • The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion presents Leader Talks with Anne-Marie Pham, Executive Director of CCDI. In this episode, meet Level Chan, a lawyer originally from Alberta, who now calls Nova Scotia home. His unique experience of being an Asian lawyer in predominantly Caucasian Atlantic Canada has helped him develop a passion for issues around diversity and inclusion. Listen now.

The Secret Life of Canada Podcast (CBC)

The Secret Life of Canada highlights the people, places and stories that probably didn't make it into your high school textbook. Join hosts Leah and Falen as they explore the unauthorized history of a complicated country.

Notable Episodes:

  • The Punjabi Market: How did Vancouver end up with the oldest Little India in North America? We look back at the history of South Asian people in British Columbia to learn how the Punjabi market formed and why the next generation of community members is trying to preserve this one-of-a-kind neighborhood. Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
  • Chinatown: Most major cities across Canada have a Chinatown - but how did they start, and why? This episode, a look at the early history of Chinese people this side of the Pacific, and the historic Chinatown in B.C. that predates Confederation. (Hint: it's not in Vancouver.) Listen on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
  • Shout Out to Irene Uchida: Meet Irene Uchida. A Japanese Canadian scientist, she was one of thousands of Japanese Canadians who were imprisoned as part of the Japanese Internment during WWII. Dr. Uchida went on to become a ground-breaking geneticist, transforming maternal and fetal health around the world. Listen on Spotify.
  • Shout Out to Madhu Verma: Many Canadians may not have heard of Madhu Verma but her almost fifty years of social activism has greatly shaped the current landscape of Fredericton, N.B. and Canada's East Coast. Listen on Spotify.
  • Shout Out to the Gay Asians of Toronto (GAT): Formed in 1979, the Gay Asians of Toronto (GAT) is thought to be the first LGBT group for non-white queer people in Canada. Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
  • Where is Japantown? Why isn't there a Japantown in every major city across Canada? This episode, we look into early Japanese Canadian history and figure out the “Asiatic Exclusion League” is not what we thought it was. Then, with the help of Lisa Uyeda from the Nikkei Museum we connect the dots between internment during the Second World War and the huge fallout for multiple generations. And what happened when theatre artists Julie Tamiko Manning and Matt Miwa, found out their families were both sent to Tashme — the largest internment camp in B.C. Listen now. 

The Nameless Collective Podcast

The Nameless Collective Podcast is hosted by Milan Singh, Naveen Girn, and Paneet Singh - a trio of historians, researchers, and explorers who travel to the archive to rediscover history, solve mysteries, and provide a space for the untold histories of Vancouver's South Asian community. A South Asian History and Vancouver History Podcast produced by Manjot Bains and Listen on PlayerFM.

Notable Episodes:

  • Country of Origin: The first challenge to Canada’s discriminatory “Continuous Journey” regulation took place on February 14, 1908, less than a month after the regulation was put on the books. Six South Asian passengers onboard the S.S. Aorangi made their voyage to Canada via Fiji but were denied entry because they did not come to Canada via their country of origin. In this episode, Milan, Paneet and Naveen – with special guest Anita Singh – share insight into Fiji and the indentured labour system and discuss how South Asians from anywhere in the British Empire were restricted from coming to Canada. Listen now.
  • Come Again? The Komogata Maru Story: What's there left to say about the Komagata Maru, 103 years after the boat was turned away from Canada on July 23? Naveen, Milan and Paneet discuss what was happening on the shore and behind-the-scenes with the Canadian government as the Komagata Maru ship made its way from Asia to Vancouver in 1914. Listen now. 

Pearls of Wisdom Podcast

Brown Girl Guilt Podcast

  • Brown Girl Guilt is a podcast that explores the nuanced perspective of brown girls and women through host Harpo’s softest and spiciest stories. Tune in every Sunday to hear vulnerable conversations rooted in introspection, shared experiences, and the pursuit of a deeper knowing of oneself. Available on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Be Antiracist with Ibram X. Kendi - Black & Asian American Solidarity: Exchanging Ideas, Sharing History

  • In the process of creating an antiracist, multiracial democracy we can learn a lot from the often-overlooked solidarity between Asian and Black Communities throughout history and today. Available on Apple Podcasts.
Support Support local Asian-owned businesses, creators, and artists throughout the year.

Support Asian-owned Businesses in Vancouver

  • A small curation of Asian-owned businesses around Vancouver. This list in not even close to exhaustive, so we encourage you to support your local Asian communities in and around the lower mainland.


  • Sher Vancouver is a registered charity for LGBTQ+ South Asians and their friends and families in Metro Vancouver, B.C.

Punjabi Market  

  • The Punjabi Market Collective is a group of passionate advocates, artists, students and entrepreneurs who are working towards revitalizing Vancouver’s historic Punjabi Market by beautifying the market, developing and promoting businesses and creating a hub for arts and culture. 

Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC

Richmond Night Market

  • Founded in the year 2000 by entrepreneur Raymond Cheung, the Richmond Night Market has grown from modest beginnings since its first location at the Continental Centre on Cambie Road. Richmond Night Market is the largest Night Market in North America and has become an international attraction, attracting over 1 million visitors each year. Be sure to check out this year’s Summer Magic Rainbow market starting April 29.

I’ll Know It When I See It™

  • This two-woman show creates sweet and slightly snarky paper goods™ from Vancouver, BC, Canada. From greeting cards to wine tags, stickers to calendars, and everything in between, I'll Know It When I See It provides sometimes nostalgic, often funny stationery that will bring a smile in the mail or on the desk. Bonus fun fact: Both Cassie and Christine are Langara Alumni of the Display + Design program, now known as Design Formation.