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The Recipe of an Immigrant — January 25, 2022

The Recipe of an Immigrant

By Rehma

We all know opening up a successful business is no easy job, especially if you’re an immigrant. 

British Columbia is known for its ethnic diversity. Immigrants are a vital piece to the ethnic diversity in B.C. About 30% of British Columbians are immigrants from all over the world. Thanks to the new immigrants arriving in the province, the entrepreneurial environment has stable growth. Opening your own business in B.C. is a risky thing to do, but as an immigrant, the process can be particularly daunting. 

My mother Maria is the owner of “Minute Bakery” in Surrey B.C. From being a housewife to having an at-home business to opening up a shop, her baking business has been quite the journey, but as an immigrant, she had some extra obstacles to overcome.

Maria was raised in Lahore, Pakistan; in 2003 she got married and decided to immigrate to Canada. At this point in time, her reason for immigration had nothing to do with her passion for baking, but it was for her soon-to-be family. The relaxing atmosphere and beauty of B.C. were the perfect invitation for her to migrate there. 

It wasn’t until 9 years after Maria immigrated that she realized baking is what she wanted to do with her life, but she couldn’t take her first career step yet. She wanted to make sure her priority was raising her three kids, but even as a stay-at-home mom she found plenty of opportunities to improve her baking skills. She baked for a lot of school fundraisers and took baking classes in her spare time. Even though Maria had minimal time to focus on her baking skills she was grateful to be in B.C.; the opportunities she had to improve her passion were endless.

Opening a bakery was one of the most challenging things Maria has ever had to do. Being an immigrant made the already challenging process even more difficult. Since she had left her whole family behind in Pakistan, she had no one for support. She was experiencing the stress of balancing her home life and work-life to the maximum. The biggest difficulty Maria faced while opening her bakery was the cultural difference. When she first opened her bakery and holidays like Christmas rolled around, she didn’t treat it as anything special. As an immigrant, she based her thinking process on what it was like back in her home country. She thought that since back in Pakistan Christmas wasn’t a big deal, then it also wouldn’t be a big deal in B.C. Maria realized that she needed to create a broader mindset on the multicultural aspect of B.C. to understand what the community and customers want. 

With all these difficulties also came doubts; Maria’s biggest doubt while opening her bakery was that she was going to experience failure. This doubt is normal for anyone who’s going to open their own business, but as an immigrant, the lack of knowledge of a new market can be a very significant reason for your downfall.

After all the learning and growing Maria had to do to understand how the business in B.C. works, she is thriving more than she ever imagined. She took some of many entrepreneurship opportunities in B.C. to help her achieve her goals. Even though Maria’s reason for immigration was not for her business, there are many immigration programs in Canada that are made for entrepreneurs. If you seize the right opportunities and have the courage to take your first step, you can make B.C. the home for you and your business.



Chinese Immigration & Chinatown — January 17, 2022

Chinese Immigration & Chinatown

By Tracy & Abhiyan

For the past 18 months, COVID-19 has shaped the way we live our everyday lives, from the precautions we take at school, to how we visit each other during the holidays. Despite this, we as a community have come a long way in terms of accepting this new lifestyle. 

However, for some, the pandemic has been a rockier rollercoaster of emotions, fuelling a stark rise in anti-Asian racism all over the country, especially toward the Chinese community. 

Looking back, we can see that this, unfortunately, is not a recent development. But perhaps, by learning from our past, we can prevent such things from happening again in the future.

Our story starts in Chinatown in the late 1800’s, the core of immigration for many Asian-Canadians. Many laborers and entrepreneurs looking for a better life in Vancouver started their journeys here. By 1890, there were more than a thousand people living in Chinatown! 


Most of these immigrant laborers made their livings working for the Canadian Pacific Railway, where they were often made to do the most dangerous and “unsavoury” jobs. These workers only made a dollar a day, and had to pay for their own food and gear. White workers, on the other hand, made at least $1.50 a day, and didn’t have to pay for their provisions.

Due to the harsh conditions and unsafe work environment, upwards of 600 Chinese-Canadians died on the CPR – that’s more than 4 people for every mile of the railway. Over 300 of those bodies were unidentified.


Many were unemployed after the work on the CPR concluded, setting up storefronts and properties in Chinatown and Japantown. They were looted and smashed in 1907 by mobs organized by the Vancouver Asiatic Exclusion League and the Vancouver District Trades Council; Japanese and Indian immigration was also cut off in the aftermath. 

In 1923, Chinese immigration also almost ground to a halt with the passing of the Chinese Immigration Act, with under 100 new immigrants arriving in the next 25 years.


Chinese-Canadians lost the right to vote only a year after BC became part of Canada (1872), and in the span of only 38 years paid almost $23 million in Head Tax, which was a legalized fee that only Chinese immigrants had to pay in order to arrive in Canada. This sum of money is worth at least $1.5 billion today.

Many federal and provincial anti-Asian laws, although federal acts of legislation, wouldn’t have been passed without the lobbying and political support from the city of Vancouver.

It is important to note that we are making amends. It’s a long and tough fight, but Vancouver’s Chinatown remains a focal point for Chinese heritage, through cultural foods, celebrations and traditions!


In 2011, Chinatown became a national historic site. Many of its older buildings are now under provincial and municipal heritage legislation, and an official apology has been made to the Chinese-Canadian population by the Government of Canada, British Columbia, and the city of Vancouver.

Chinatown embodies the journeys of our Chinese-Canadian ancestors, the earliest immigrants, and is an intercultural space that allows us to share our cultures and stories with each other! Its unique cultural heritage is one that is vitally important to its community and to our province.


Ingram, Adam J. CVA 800-4779 – East Pender Street – Chinatown. Vancouver, 12 July 1980. 

Kruyt, Rob. Business in Vancouver. Vancouver, 28 Aug. 2018.

Unknown. Chinese Workers Living in One Room. Vancouver, 1890. 

Unknown. Statutes of Canada. An Act Respecting Chinese Immigration, 1923. Ottawa: SC 13-14 George V, Chapter 38. Ottawa, 1923. 

Sponsor Interview: Know History — January 10, 2022

Sponsor Interview: Know History

Written by Daniel, Alumni Council

We Canadians are generally proud of our shared history. Some among our number can trace their bloodline back to settlers who moved North following the American War of Independence and helped start our country. If you look in the right communities you might meet people whose ancestors built the Canadian Pacific Railway. And a few families, especially in the eastern provinces, may have progenitors who had fled from the slave-owning United States to Canada via the Underground Railroad nearly 200 years ago. We have come to regard our heritage in a very pleasant light.

But not all is as ideal as one would like when it comes to our nation’s history. On the news, in our schools, and in our workplaces we have begun to have conversations. Difficult conversations. Conversations about things like reconciliation, systemic racism, and government responsibility. With so much to be done, where should we start?

I had the pleasure of speaking to Ashley Henrickson, MA, a little while ago. She is the Manager of Marketing and Business Development at an organization called Know History. Their website describes the work they do as centering around “the research, presentation and documentation of Canada’s history.” Over the years they have created databases of information and maps that document regional cultures, and they also collaborate with leaders in governments and Indigenous communities. It’s all-around fascinating work, and the BCHFS is grateful to be sponsored by them.

During our conversation, Ms. Henrickson offered her opinion on many things. The interview took place on September 30th, the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. As a result, many of the topics we discussed dealt with understanding our past mistakes, education, and other similar subjects. She put forward the idea of empowering minority groups by creating local media companies that focus on the issues that the underrepresented face, especially to dispel misunderstandings and the danger of the single story. “I think what’s really important [is] that you are hearing from various groups of people […] not just a couple of big outlets controlling the industry,” Ms. Henrickson said. “Having space for lots of different voices I think is key to having a more thorough understanding of what’s going on in the world.”

Ms. Henrickson also had some advice for students who are thinking about a career in history. For instance, during the interview she praised the Six Historical Thinking Concepts, which she continues to use in Know History. Her suggestions also touched upon the presentation of our learning through Heritage Fairs. While she voiced her love of traditional methods of showing work, particularly the tri-fold/presentation board, she recommended branching out from the norm if it prevents you from communicating your findings. “Don’t let that limit you,” she advised. “Maybe there’s other ways you want to share the research you’ve done!”

She also jokingly observed how she and many other historians were probably introduced to their subject through historical fiction! It is, in her words, their dirty secret. So perhaps that copy of ‘I am Canada’ on your bedside bookshelf is what helped spark your passion for history!

To summarize my interview with Ms. Henrickson, I would say that it was quite enlightening. Her outlook on current events was certainly a keen and fresh perspective on the situation!

Discrimination in Canada, an ongoing cycle —

Discrimination in Canada, an ongoing cycle

By Shreyanshi

This year, the alumni council is focusing on themes of inclusion, reconciliation, and stories of immigrants. Through this article, I’d like to share a perspective of the historical and ongoing discrimination against immigrants and minorities in Canada and how as a country, we still have a long way to go before we achieve equity and equality. Canada holds one of the highest immigrant rates in the world of 300 000 people per year. Meanwhile, immigrants with permanent residency in Canada make up approximately 21.5% of Canada’s population.

Nonetheless, as large of a community this may be, it doesn’t lower the amount of racism directed towards people of ethnic minorities in Canada. Let’s take a look at our history of mistreatment against immigrants. Discrimination towards Asian-Canadians started not during the pandemic but way back in the 1800s; whether it be the mistreatment of Chinese workers, the Japanese community, or Indian immigrants. Voting laws, policies, and relocation have all been a part of this vicious and racist cycle that still affects Canadians to this day. What’s worse is that in the media it’s often perpetuated that Canada is a perfectly welcoming country to all, and though many of us are inclusive and open-hearted, this doesn’t invalidate the numerous negative experiences of immigrants in our country. Discrimination can look like a lack of cultural acceptance in schools, passed promotions and opportunities solely based on ethnicity, and missing equity in our systems. Recent examples of this issue are the numerous Asian-hate crimes during the Covid-19 pandemic. I can write multiple articles that cover various discriminatory actions that have become acceptable in our society; however, I’d like to focus on actions we can take towards creating a more inclusive and caring community. The first thing would be to change the cultures of stereotyping and day-to-day usage of slurs and derogatory terms. Stopping these insults can itself be a big step towards acceptance. The next thing would be to introduce cultural learning in schools, in the hopes of creating and fostering a safe environment for people to learn, share, and appreciate their classmates’ backgrounds and stories. Lastly, I’d hope to see more public attention and communal action directed to these outstanding issues. Canada is a country full of amazing people and stories; if we unite, we can write an even better one for future generations.


Immigration in Canada: Statistics & Facts | Statista 

Racist labour exploitation continues in multicultural Canada 

Anti-Asian Racism in Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia 

South Asian Canadians

Sponsor Interview – Rob, BC Hydro Power Pioneers — September 26, 2021

Sponsor Interview – Rob, BC Hydro Power Pioneers

Today we start a new series: interviews with our 2021 Virtual Showcase sponsors! This interview is conducted by Shreyanshi, Alumni Council Member, with Rob Kikkert, President of BC Hydro Power Pioneers. You can watch the video here, or scroll down for the transcript.

Q: Can you please introduce yourself?

R: My name is Rob Kikkert, and I’m the president of BC Hydro Power Pioneers. I’m a retired employee of BC Hydro.

Q: What is the main goal of you organization:

R: The main goal for our organization is to support our communities and each other. We started Power Pioneers back in 1990, and we were three branches at that particular time, and now we’ve grown into fifteen branches throughout the province. What all of these branches do is support their local communities and the broader projects that Power Pioneers may have. The biggest thing for us is just getting together with each other, and meeting our friends, though it’s something we’ve missed (due to the pandemic). 

S: Absolutely, with the pandemic, we’ve all moved online.

R: And we’ve all still managed to do things. I think the heritage group has also had to go online, but we’ve managed to be able to continue to support you over the past couple of years.

S: We appreciate your support a lot!

Q: Going a bit deeper into your organization, what is your vision or goal for this upcoming year?

R: Well, we’re doing the normal things we always do; our main fundraising activities are around the BC Children’s Hospital. Within the past 30 years we’ve already raised a million dollars, and so we are on our way to our second million, and we’ll continue doing that. On the provincial side, where I work, we are trying to have some welcome back meetings, and we’ve asked our branches if they’d want to have some in-person meetings…subject to what Dr. Bonnie Henry says. We also have board work such as our bylaws and constitution, and we are also planning our AGM, we are hoping to have an in-person meeting soon!

S: Thank you for sharing, the fundraising goals you shared are very inspiring for me too!

R: Thank you. Not only do we fundraise for BC Children’s, we also have United Way. Also, all of the branches have their own charities that they support. We are quite active in that area.

Q: Can you share some of your experiences working with the BCHFS (BC Heritage Fairs Society)?

R: From my personal experiences, I was in the Vancouver branch, we supported the Sea to Sky Heritage Fair. I went to that fair, that was the first time I went, and I’ve now gone for about four to five years. I kind of have first hand experience on how these fairs work. We help out with judging and we always have our own awards that we present.

Q: Why do you choose to support Heritage Fairs?

R: We as retirees are big on heritage, so much so that we’ve written four to five books on the history of BC Hydro. If you’ve been to one of our fairs, we’d be giving one of those books to some lucky students. Even now, we are in the process of writing a book about the Bridge River, which was one of the bigger hydro dams that BC Electric (Hydro’s predecessor) built back in the forties or fifties. So we are writing a story, or rather a book of what happened back then.

S: That sounds very interesting, I’d love to read more about that.

R: Well we are very close to having that book finished. It was interesting to hear about some of the people who were involved…and all of the main characters got their own substation named after them, so it was fun to see what they’d done in the past.

S: Absolutely, I think also with Heritage Fairs we like to look into our history and I think that’s a common point for our projects.

R: Yes, and we are big supporters of your group.

Q: Moving on to our last question, how can the Heritage Fairs community support your group?

R: I think you can do that best by continuing what you are doing and teaching. Making history a key subject or area that students should get interested in. My own understanding of that is that if you don’t understand your history, you are condemned to doing it again. So, if you haven’t learnt from your history, you are condemned to repeat the same mistakes that were done in the past.

S: Thank you for doing this interview with me!

R: It’s been fun, thank you for having us!

That was it for the interview with one of our Sponsor Groups, Power Pioneers. We’ll have more interviews coming soon!

The Ethical Dimension – An Introduction — September 2, 2020

The Ethical Dimension – An Introduction

By Daniel, Junior Council

In confronting our past selves and looking into our past, we often note that some of our doings are seen today as immensely unjustifiable and wrong. But just as we regard them as gravely immoral today, people of the time justified these actions back then for numerous different reasons, most of them being thought of as outdated and unethical nowadays.

Some of Canada’s past wrongdoings include the internment of Japanese-Canadian civilians during the Second World War, or the horror of residential schools, the system meant to wipe out culture in a ruthlessly efficient way. Only in the late 20th century did a large majority of us realize that these actions were wrong, as part of our changing outlook on diversity. The right thing to do, we decided, was to make amends to survivors or descendants of those who had suffered in these horrible events, be it through compensations or official apologies. But what should we do in order to avoid making the same mistakes? What do we have to do now? 

This is called the Ethical Dimension, one of the most in-depth historical thinking axioms we consult in our reflections on history. We often judge historical events through a more fact-based lens, such as by considering the events that occurred, the numbers of people involved, and the places where the events took place. But it is not quite as often when we look at the effects of the events on the people who were involved, either involuntarily or voluntarily. We see conflicts like the War of 1812 and judge them based on the impacts they had on faceless entities like nations and governments. But rarely do we take a closer look at the psychological impacts the event had on the people involved, or how it changed a population’s thinking, or even how it changed our cultures. The Ethical Dimension means investigating the rationale behind events, how it has changed our cultures, and, if we now regard the rationale as in the wrong, how to avoid making the same mistakes. When combined with other historical concepts it provides one with a further understanding of a past matter, and hopefully in doing so we can make a change to our country and perhaps the world.

Day 2 Virtual Heritage Fair — June 30, 2020

Day 2 Virtual Heritage Fair

By Tracy, Junior Alumni Council

Aaand we’re back with day two of our first ever Virtual Provincial Heritage Fair! 

We opened with some introductory comments from Rachel, our Alumni Program Manager. She mentioned something about the Journal Elf(s)… what could that be about?

Robert Bateman Foundation

Our first presentation was Carey-Lynn from the Bateman Foundation! She played a video of Mr. Bateman talking about what each individual’s special place might be, and reminded us that in thinking of our home and the environment that surrounds us as a special place, we get to know it better, and identify why it’s special. That makes us more likely to take care of it.

Carey-Lynn also led us through some drawing exercises, and showed another video of one of Mr Bateman’s sketching practices. She recommends starting out with basic shapes and then adding in cross-hatching or shading for perspectives. Keeping a nature journal is also a great idea!

A quick break for some nature sketching, and then moving on to our next presentation!

Interview #1:

Rebecca was our first interviewee, and she was interviewed by Tracy. 

Many of the wider-known stories (such as collections and fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm) are sexist, and teach us one version of history, whereas many forgotten stories and legends are more “politically correct.” Stories like ‘The Nettle Princess’ shows the princess rescuing the prince, which is a type of narrative that we’re unfamiliar with in most popular fairy tales. Rebecca’s project compares the role of women in fairy tales and Indigenous stories, and she wrote a story based in an Indigenous community that shows a strong, female heroine. 

Interview #2:

The second interviewee was Dayna, whose project was on her grandfather and his journey in the RCMP. She was interviewed by Leona. Her research covered the extensive process and training as an RCMP Cadet, as well as techniques they used and animals in the police force. Dana showed us the RCMP uniform during her presentation, including her grandfather’s epaulets! 


Our next presentation was from our very own Alumni, Leona and Kevin, as well as graduated Alumnus Lucas! They showed us a video of George Elliott being interviewed last summer in Victoria, and how his father Dr David Elliott Sr. created the SENĆOŦEN alphabet. In doing this he hoped to preserve the rich and vibrant culture of the Saanich peoples. 

Leona, Lucas and Kevin also talked about how we need to use reliable resources to learn and educate ourselves about the Indigenous community and their needs and situation. We need to work towards improving Indigenous inclusion and reconciliation – because there are Indigenous voices that aren’t always heard, and it’s all of our individual responsibilities to champion these efforts to have suppressed voices heard. We need to work towards improving Indigenous inclusion and reconciliation.  

They also shared with us a fun Kahoot!

Alberni Valley Museum

Next, we got to go inside the Alberni Valley Museum, right from our screens at home! Shelley led us through the museum, and throughout the trip student participants enthusiastically and chimed in with appreciation for how cool the tour was! Alberni Valley Museum was built in 1971, but expanded to 3 times the size in the 1980s. Their mandate is to collect and preserve the human and cultural history of the Alberni Valley. Some examples are their Indigenous basket collection of 300+ pieces, their furniture gallery, machinery, artworks, and so many more exhibits. 

If you are curious, the virtual tour can be accessed from their website.

Lunch Break

At lunch, we premiered the documentary that both Alumni councils have been working hard on for many many months! The official film will be released on YouTube on Saturday June 4th at 5pm. If you would like, we are inviting you to attend the virtual ‘watch party’ at the same time, which can be joined at this YouTube link.

In the meantime, check out our trailer here!

Interview #3:

Our first presenter after the lunch break was Chloe, interviewed by Vedanshi. Her project was on the inventions, work, and lifetime of Alexander Graham Bell. Chloe talked about how his inventions have revolutionized our world of modern-day communication, especially how important it was to stay connected during this COVID-19 pandemic. 

She noted that the pandemic would’ve looked a lot different without Bell’s inventions, and it would be far more difficult to maintain contact with friends and family. 

Interview #4:

Our next presenter, Andreas, shared with us Canada’s role in NATO during the Cold War and the creation & meaning of Article 2. He was also interviewed by Vedanshi. 

Andreas talked about how different sources have different perspectives, but both are important because it’s good to see both (and all) points of view on the war. Some tellings may not include all the important parts, he said, but it was important to see all the details in the war, not only parts from the winning side.

Vancouver Japanese Language School

We were in for a treat in the next speakers! Dr Horii and Laura from the Vancouver Japanese Language School gave a fascinating presentation about the Japanese Internment and racism in Canada. 

Dr. Horii shared his personal experience with us during his time being in an internment camp, and anecdotes about growing up as a Japanese-Canadian. In this current COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Horii thinks that noticing racism towards Asian-Americans is more crucial than ever. If reconciliation is to happen, then we all must take our steps forward together. 

This is very special! ‘Living history’ from a person who has experienced WWII, is way different from a primary source. 

The Japanese Hall is now a National Historic Site! 

Interview #5:

Next up, with his project on Japanese displacement in the Second World War, was Jack, being interviewed by Ashley and Tom from Know History. His project was based on letters home from a Japanese-Canadian teen, Koji (a pseudonym) who’d been displaced to the Prairies, to his friend Joan. As part of his research process, he used archival sources from UBC Archives, including the original letters. Jack pointed out that in internment camps, letters were often censored, so we are lucky to have them to study today! 

Interview #6:

The next project belonged to Hiba, who was interviewed by Tom and Ashley. Her project was on Barkerville and focused on Billy Barker and the Cariboo Gold Rush. She points out that the starting of BC was in Barkerville, because of the Gold Rush, and that it was fundamental to the founding of British Columbia. It was a flourishing town, with a whopping 8,000 people at its peak!

Gulf of Georgia Cannery

Next up were Tara, Andrea and Johanna from the Gulf of Georgia Cannery! The Cannery is a Parks Canada National Historic Site that opened 126 years ago – before which Indigenous peoples had already been fishing on the land. The workshop was full of interactive activities, including understanding the various machinery. We learned about the Retort, the Iron Butcher and the Vacuum Sealer, which had been developed almost 100 years ago and before, the latest in the 1920-1930’s! They shared with us the importance of people in the canning line as well, not just machines. Did you know that the Iron Butcher can process and clean a salmon per second? Wow! 

The presentation wrapped up with a fun Kahoot. You can check out their interactive Virtual Museum of Canada website here.


And last but certainly not least, Ashley and Tom came back for one last presentation! They work for Know History. The company has 50+ full-time historians, hired basically to make Heritage Fair projects for clients. Sounds like a fun job! 

They shared interpretive writing tips & tricks, whether to caption historical photos or write short summaries. Try not to use unnecessary, fancy words or overcomplicate things! The readers want to know about what’s happening in the moment. 

Before they wrapped up, Tom and Ashley left us with one last task – a writing competition! They showed us a historical photo and asked us to create an interpretive writing for it. Most submissions have been sent in already and we are awaiting results! It’s, in Ashley’s words, a “chance to win some cool KnowHistory swag.” Participated in the fair but still haven’t submitted? There’s still time! 


Rachel offered some concluding remarks. Thank you to all the participants, sponsors, and planners, and supporters for making this such a successful Fair! Although we hate to see it end (and we were having such fun, too!) we hope to see you in the future, hopefully in person! 

And that, my friends, concludes our Virtual Provincial Heritage Fair of 2020!

Virtual Fair Day 1 — June 28, 2020

Virtual Fair Day 1

It’s a Fair tradition for alumni students to write a blog post detailing each day’s events, and this year’s Virtual Fair is no different! Check out today’s Virtual Fair notes, written by Vedanshi, Junior Council Coordinator, and Abhiyan from our Junior Council.

You can also see all of our students’ presentations on our Virtual Fair page. Did you miss out on Day 1 and you’re feeling the FOMO? Send an email to alumi(at)bcheritagefairs(dot)ca by 9am Sunday to receive the link for Day 2 of programming!

Introductory comments by Rachel Meloche, Alumni Program Manager

Land Acknowledgement

Theme: Community

Participants from all across BC!

Remarks from Kris Foulds, Chair of the BCHFS Board of Directors

Something cool this year was the Land Acknowledgements from various regions of BC because we are all signing in from different parts of the province. “Empathy, learning agility, and leadership”

Sponsors! Thank you! BC Hydro Power Pioneers, Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC, Know History, and Fraser Valley Farm Machinery Association. BC Hydro Power Pioneers and CCHSBC shared video messages.

Participants and presenters got to know each other in break-out rooms!

Native Land Presentation

Victor and Christine from Native Land are our first presenters! Learning process of education about the land that they live on. “It can be difficult for people to learn about the land they live on having a violent past.” So Victor made this tool to be a way to get that education and be less intimidating. If anyone is interested in making an interactive map, Victor recommends using MapBox. 

There are plans to add in pronunciation guides.

A really important part of Native Land is to make the boundaries as accurate as possible, but recognize that it may have errors and inaccuracies. You have to look at oral histories, old historical maps, but a lot of time, the authority or time period to be used may not be clear.

Native Land’s now a non-profit, and have an Indigenous Board of Directors, as are the Executive Director and Staff. Trying to reflect traditions and ways of knowing of First Nations People.

Land acknowledgements are personal to each nation, there isn’t one way – it’s really about understanding each nation.

Christine, the Executive Director of Native Land, and also an Archaeologist! Their platform is still growing as they fill-in gaps. In addition to maps, they also have land acknowledgment, or territory acknowledgment, tools. We need to make sure that these Land Acknowledgements have meaning each time we do them, and not simply something to say – it takes some more reflection and deeper thinking.

What does land mean to you?

Christine shared a personal anecdote: There are many Algonquin People who live off-reserve and understand their heritage, re-learn their traditions, and once again form connections with their land.

We need to make sure we’re inviting people to teach about traditional customs and knowledge, and get a better understanding and appreciation for the land we live on.

These communities are re-learning and re-connecting with their culture.

Why is it hard to relearn language? Only 10 people speak her specific dialogue. These individuals are often very spread apart – their community has been separated from land and family for over 130 years, and in that time, they were forced to give up their culture, language, beliefs, “we were taught that it was a shameful thing to be who we are.”

Participants got to ask the speakers questions, and we learned a lot about the incredible and extensive process that goes into piecing together traditions and heritage.

Interview #1:

Abigail was our first interviewee, with a project on Harriet Tubman, interviewed by Leona! Abigail made a really neat diorama, and it showed how enslaved people were rescued and transported secretly by hiding them in wagons under wood and vegetables. Abigail primarily used books to do her research.

Break 1:

Featured a video from the BC Power Pioneers – great facts and learning about how they contributed to the development of BC as we know it today!

Interview #2:

Next interview was by Jora, and about Walter Harris and George Klein, interviewed by Lucy! Important because their inventions changed the transportation methods for disabled for veterans – knowing that “mobility problems increase with age.” “According to the World Health Organization, there are 2 billion disabled people in the world,” and these Canadian inventors have invented a means of helping the 75 million individuals that need a wheelchair. Jora was really excited to do his first-ever Heritage Fair project, and learned a lot!

Interview #3:

Shared by Logan, about how silver mining in the Kootenays (interior BC) affected BC’s regional development socially, economically, and just in everyday life, interviewed by Keilin! Logan visited museums to look at their collection of artefacts, and also used several books, archival photographs of mines and miners for his research!

It was great to see other students and participants joining into the conversation, and asking questions! This interaction is something students normally get to experience at Fairs across BC in-person, but it is wonderful to have this interaction virtually!

Interview #4: Lyla

Lyla’s project was personal, on her family’s history, also interviewed by Keilin! Lyla talked about how Clinton has a very close-knit community, and everyone’s been helping each other out during COVID. Her grandfather used to write articles for newspapers, and that’s where she was able to get her archival photographs from! Lyla talked about the interview process needing to be modified as a result of COVID-19, and did a lot of phone interviews, and learned a lot of stories from her grandparents that she didn’t know earlier! Lyla felt closer with her grandparents after her project, and what a wonderful way for Lyla to connect with her grandparents, and keep their history alive! Lyla wants to continue doing more Heritage Fair projects!

Presentation by Stephanie Halmhofer on Archaeology and Pop Culture:

Stephanie studied pseudo-archaeology, which is about how archaeology can be changed in nefarious ways, for instance, people incorrectly sharing or manipulating archaeology to mean something different, and how archaeology influences pop culture. Material culture is important, but the context within which that artefact is found is more important to go beyond a superficial description. Students took part in a neat activity to try archaeological interpretation by thinking of the room they are in as the archaeological site, and picking an object to study! We even learned about the archaeological perspective of Star Wars – how material culture is interacted with by characters, for instance, Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber and how it’s a sign of lineage.

Presentation by Brianne by the Port Moody Station Museum

We got to see the trench virtually through a live-streamed tour by Brianne and Markus! The plane we saw was one of the most successful planes of WWI, however, when introduced in 1951, there were severe engine problems, and it hit the front line in 1918 once again. Markus has done scouting in this type of aircraft to find and hunt down enemy spy balloons. However, despite the engineering coolness of the plane, Markus noted that there is nothing nice to say about the war, since it is all about destruction. Markus told us that normally an officer in the days of the cavalry would have a sword on the left side, and so to this day, aircrafts are boarded from the left – that’s how this old thinking influences modern technology! The rest of the tour was super cool and fun, especially because we’re all mostly staying home, this allowed all participants to explore a new place and its history just from home!

Student Interview #5: Will

Brianne and Markus stayed on the line to interview our next student presenter, Will! Will talked about, amongst other things, people are very familiar with battles where we have had great successes, like Vimy Ridge, but Canadians don’t know about unsuccessful battles, like Beaumont-Hamel (only 3 out of 25 of his interviewees knew about this one). History is not just composed of independent events, everything is connected together “in a big web.” Our interviewer Markus also shared a fact that during one battle the officers put small mirrors on the back of their soldiers’ uniforms so that the sunlight would reflect on their backs, and they’d be able to see when the soldiers made it to the top of the hill, or identify the location of fallen soldiers. 

Presentation by Andrew Farris, Co-Founder of On This Spot

Andrew talked about why he started On This Spot. It actually started off as a travel blog, where he would post then-and-now photos, which is where the idea came about! The project started in Nagasaki, where Andrew overlapped a photo of the aftermath of the destruction after the atomic bomb, with a modern-day photo of the rebuilt city. Realizing when he was at Juno Beach that he wanted to know about the history of the place, Andrew realized that this would be a neat idea for an app, and partnered up with his now co-founders, and they’ve been adding in neat new features ever since! This is “a great way to get people engaged with history- especially young people!” We even got to see the first photograph ever taken- did you know it took a whopping two full days of constant exposure?

End of Day 1- Excited for Day 2 of the Fair tomorrow- programming starts at 9:30 a.m.!

Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his Connections to Canada — June 4, 2020

Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his Connections to Canada

by Daniel, Junior Council

In Summer of 2019 my family and I had made plans to go into Downtown Vancouver and visit the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Gardens. However, we never managed to find the time to last year, and now, due to the ongoing pandemic, we unfortunately won’t be able to for an indefinite period of time. But as we stay at home and follow the federal procedures, my family and I (me especially) like to reflect on the name the gardens bear: Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

Dr. Sun was a remarkable man in many ways. He is still viewed as an influential person even though he died nearly a century ago in 1925. Dr. Sun was born in Guangzhou in 1866. He had voyaged to Hawaiian colleges to get a better medical education in his younger years because he felt that there were better schools overseas. Upon returning, he became frustrated with what he saw as a collapsing China, which in his eyes contrasted with the progress of the USA and Britain. As such, he embarked on a lifelong goal to transform China into a republic, and gained notoriety for his novel philosophies which defined what a quintessential society meant to him, for which he is remembered today.

While this eminent person certainly had a great impact on his country, he also has a strong impact on Canada. As part of his international exploits, he had toured through Canada in the early 20th century to try to raise funds for the numerous revolutionary societies he worked for and educate expatriate Chinese about the possibility of a Chinese democracy. In doing so he had spread his philosophy even to Canada, and helped to impact the thinking of the population and BC. His actions even inspired a relatively unknown son of a Chinese coal importer to immigrate to Canada, who would later become a model civilian and would donate to many charities. His name was David Lam. And Mr. Lam would go on to sponsor the creation of Canada’s first classical Chinese garden, the one mentioned earlier that was named after Dr. Sun Yat-sen himself. In some regards Dr. Sun ushered into Canada a wave of Chinese culture in a place which once suffered from widespread segregation against the Asian community, and helped to make Canada the nation it is today, with its grand multicultural heritage and its diverse ethnic backgrounds.

So when we reflect on Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his unmistakable presence today, it is also interesting to note how he has changed Canada.

Sources for further reading:


Kamloops Chinese Cemetery — May 19, 2020

Kamloops Chinese Cemetery

By Trevor, Junior Council

Last summer I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend the BC Provincial Heritage Fair in Victoria.  It was such an amazing experience and so full of history as we visited significant places around the Victoria area.  It inspired me to visit some historical sites when I returned to my home in Kamloops.  One such site is the Kamloops Chinese Cemetery.  It was interesting to actually visit the site that I had only seen pictures of at our local museum.

The Kamloops Chinese Cemetery is located in the southwestern outskirts of downtown Kamloops.  It is on a grassy slope overlooking the Thompson River and Mount Paul as seen below in the photo.

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View of the cemetery looking down the grassy slope.

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This is a picture of the main gate going into the cemetery.  To the right of this photo is the grassy slope mentioned above.

Many Chinese immigrants first came to BC before it was even considered a province.  They came in search of gold, in the 1860s, during the Cariboo gold rush.  When the gold rush ended, the Chinese found work building the railway.  In the 1880s, The Canadian Pacific Railway was created through Kamloops and many Chinese came to live in the area as they worked on the railway.  There were over 17,000 Chinese workers who helped to build the Yale-Kamloops line. When the railway was finished many of these Chinese workers chose to settle in Kamloops and in 1890 there were over 400 Chinese residents. This was approximately one third of the Kamloops population. A section of downtown Kamloops was the original site for a Chinatown. In 1897, The Kamloops Sentinel created the first record of the cemetery in an article that they wrote.

It is one of Canada’s oldest and biggest intact Chinese cemeteries.  It showed that the temporary Chinese residents decided to become a more permanent part of the community in the 1920s. Many of the immigrants had intended to return back to China in 5-10 years and the cemetery was created as a temporary burial place.  They had not been allowed to bury their deceased in the Pioneer Cemetery, so the HBC decided to give them some land south of the town to use as a burial site. Surrounded by a wooden fence, there was an altar and a burner placed near the north section of the cemetery. Many of the graves were not marked until after 1923 when the Chinese Exclusion Act was created and they chose to settle down in Kamloops. At this time, permanent, marked tombstones started to be installed as early as 1927. Many of the marked graves are dated from the years between 1930 into the 1960s.

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Picture of the markers located in the cemetery.

In 1979 the cemetery was closed. It is all that is left of the Kamloops historic Chinatown. It contains approximately 125 burial plots. Over 50 of these plots were disinterred. More recently, the Kamloops Chinese Cemetery Heritage Society has been trying to restore and rehabilitate the area as a place for community commemoration and worship. It is the only Chinese controlled cemetery in BC. Many come to visit the cemetery today to pay their respects to the people who are buried here.



Editor’s note: If you’re also staying close to home, there are lots of great resources to explore heritage virtually: Historic Places Day website, Virtual Museum of Canada, or BC Culture Online, just to name a few. You can also check with your local museum to see what they’re doing virtually – many summer programs have been moved online.