Asian Heritage Month 2021

Throughout the month of May, we acknowledge and celebrate the many contributions that Canadians of Asian origin have made

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May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada: join us in recognizing and celebrating Canadians of Asian origin and their continued influences and impact within our society.

One of Canada’s greatest strengths is how diverse our country remains. For hundreds of years, people have been travelling to and settling in Canada from all across Asia. They have brought with them a very rich culture which includes various religious traditions, customs, and languages and have contributed to every aspect of life in Canada.

This designated month of celebration affords all of us the opportunity to learn more about the history of Asian Canadians and to acknowledge their many contributions to the country’s growth, progress, and prosperity. It is a time to showcase these contributions.

Asian Heritage Month is a nationally recognized commemorative month:

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History of Asian Heritage Month

Canada has been commemorating Asian Heritage Month for many years, but where did it start?

  • 2001: the first appointed Asian Senator, Vivienne Poy, proposed a motion in the Senate of Canada to acknowledge Asian Canadians. Learn more about Vivienne Poy in The Canadian Encyclopedia
  • May 2002: the Government of Canada signed an official declaration and designated May as Asian Heritage Month
  • For the past 19 years, Asian Heritage Month has become a nationwide festival

The celebrations that occur throughout Asian Heritage Month aid in connecting different societies, to understand and learn from one another.

Notable Figures

Agnes Ah Fung Chan: the first Chinese Canadian graduate of the Women’s College Hospital’s School of Nursing in Toronto. Learn More

Har Gobind Khorana: Nobel prize-winning Indian American biochemist who worked with the British Columbia Research Council at UBC. Learn More

David Suzuki: a Canadian geneticist, science broadcaster, and environmental activist. Learn More

Irene Uchida: a groundbreaking Japanese Canadian geneticist from Vancouver who attended UBC for two years. Her aunt, Chitose (Josi) Uchida, was the first Japanese Canadian to enroll at UBC and became its first female graduate in 1916. Learn More


Change is never easy, and it often creates discord, but when people come together for the good of humanity and the Earth, we can accomplish great things.
David Suzuki

Learning and Celebrating

The Asian Library at UBC supports Asian-language research, learning and teaching.

Find events, collections, and resources:

A video from the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice (CCNCSJ). This #AsianHeritageMonth, they are calling on allies to confront the historical and present injustices facing Asian communities, and #FaceRace.

UBC’s Department of Asian Studies will be hosting this event on May 6, 2021. This virtual event will feature a moderator and four panelists who will respond to various pre-recorded audio, video, and written submissions from UBC and Vancouver community members who have self-recorded responses to a series of questions.

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This May 15, 2021 event is part of a series to support racialized communities, address racism, and build community networks. These sessions aim to empower, educate, and build allyship. This session will be focusing on the model minority myth. Which communities are most affected? How is this myth perpetuated? In what ways is it harmful? How can we begin to deconstruct it? Guest speakers will provide their perspectives, followed by participant discussion in breakout rooms. All are welcome to join in this conversation.

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On June 10–11, 2021, a constellation of community organizers, scholars, and public intellectuals, along with key figures in government, health care, media, journalism, the corporate world and the not-for-profit sector will convene frank discussions about anti-Asian racism in our country with the aim of articulating bold and concrete recommendations for action.

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Find more events on REDI’s Events page: