In 2001, Senator Vivienne Poy proposed a motion to acknowledge Asian Canadians by proclaiming May as Asian Heritage Month, and in 2002, the official declaration was signed. The declaration reads, in part: "Over the last two centuries, immigrants have journeyed to Canada from East Asia, Southern Asia, Western and Southeast Asia, bringing our society a rich cultural heritage representing many languages, ethnicities and religious traditions.”
"Celebrating Asian Heritage Month is one way for all of us to understand and learn from each other and to acknowledge the fundamental contributions Asian Canadians have made to our labour movement, our society and our country," says British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union President Stephanie Smith. "This month is an invitation to learn about the history of Asian-Canadians and to stand in solidarity with the ongoing struggle for human rights and justice."
Asian Canadians have faced extreme racism and discrimination in Canada's history, with many of the most shameful events occurring in BC: from the Chinese Exclusion Act, to the denial of the right to vote or to run for public office, to the exploitation of Chinese railway workers, to the Komagata Maru incident, to the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.
During Asian Heritage Month, we celebrate the accomplishments of the Asian communities across Canada and in the world. Canadian diversity has enriched all of our cultures and enhanced our progress in economics, the sciences, arts and every aspect of our lives. Asian Heritage Month is about more than just fine cuisine or cultural events — it is a chance to look at the history, to see how far we’ve come and where we are going.
"It is important to recognize the rich culture, language and history that Asian people bring to Canada and how they have enhanced our society,” says Smith. “The BCGEU stands in solidarity with Asian Canadians and invites all of our members to take part in events that celebrate Asian Heritage Month this May."
Published in Partnership with Asian Pacific Post.