Government of Canada Supports the Chinese Canadian Museum
VANCOUVER, May 23, 2023
Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, announced an investment of $5,179,000 in the Chinese Canadian Museum. This support includes funding from both the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan).
Minister Ng made this announcement on behalf of the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for PacifiCan.
The first of its kind in Canada, the Chinese Canadian Museum will honour the history, contributions, and living heritage of Chinese Canadians.
Canadian Heritage has provided $3 million in funding through the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund for renovations to the Museum’s permanent home in the Wing Sang Building, the oldest building in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Once completed, this will create more than 21,000 square feet of modernized operational museum space. Canadian Heritage has also provided $179,000 under the Commemorate Canada program for the museum’s inaugural exhibition, The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act. The exhibition will present key themes and learnings about the Act, highlight personal connections through stories of individuals and families who lived through that time, and explore elements of the Act and its devastating impact on the Chinese community.
PacifiCan is contributing $2 million through the Tourism Relief Fund to the new permanent museum space that will enable the Chinese Canadian Museum to develop impactful and transformative visitor experiences. Funding includes support for renovation and curatorial plans, exhibition design, marketing, communications, and administrative operations. The development of the new museum will positively impact the local economy, all while drawing interest and engagement through domestic and international tourism, one of the most impacted sectors since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Funding for the Chinese Canadian Museum supports an essential space to honour, celebrate, and preserve Chinese-Canadian culture. As we near the centennial of the Chinese Exclusion Act, it is more important than ever that we reflect on the important, complex, and layered history of the Chinese-Canadian community and create opportunities for education and learning. Our commitment to building a more inclusive Canada is strengthened by projects such as this. Investing in the Chinese Canadian Museum and other heritage facilities enriches our communities and brings people together, ensuring that stories that have shaped the fabric of our nation are shared and its many voices amplified.”
— Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage
“Museums are focal points of our communities and have evolved as leading players that support our country’s economic development and sustainability through tourism. The Chinese Canadian Museum will provide a critical repository for the Chinese-Canadian experience—documenting art, history, and heritage—while creating a vibrant space where Canadians and visitors alike can learn about the stories, struggles, and successes of the Chinese-Canadian community. I look forward to the official opening next month, and welcoming Canada and the world to this unique, culturally rich experience.”
— Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada
“As we celebrate Asian Heritage Month, we also celebrate the resiliency, endurance, achievement, and progress of Chinese Canadians, all of which will now be preserved in the Chinese Canadian Museum. This remarkable facility creates a critical space for memory, history and identity. It serves as custodian of profound and important artifacts, artworks, spoken histories, teachings, and so much more—producing powerfully illustrative narratives of communal connection and chronicles of a community that has been continually challenged by discrimination and prejudice, all while continuing to make extraordinary contributions to Canadian society. Embracing our culture and history through the Chinese Canadian Museum will allow generations to come to feel connected to their heritage while marking our place among Canada’s most important heritage institutions.”
— Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
“Chinese Canadians are a significant part of Canada’s history that defines who we are as Canadians. British Columbia has been home to Chinese Canadians since the 18th century, where they have contributed significantly, from literature to arts; politics to civil rights; and business to philanthropy. Chinese heritage, like any other heritage, enriches our national fabric. I am proud to see the first-ever Chinese Canadian Museum housed in the historic Wing Sang Building, the oldest in Vancouver’s Chinatown, to showcase the story of Chinese Canadians across Canada for visitors and our future generations to learn and experience.”
—Wilson Miao, Member of Parliament (Richmond Centre)
“This pivotal funding from the Government of Canada is momentous in assisting us to continue the first phases of capital work to open the museum this summer. The Chinese Canadian Museum will present exhibitions and programs that celebrate the diversity of the Chinese-Canadian diaspora, including a wide range of communities under this grouping that span multiple generations and different waves of migration from across Asia and other parts of the world.”
—Dr. Melissa Karmen Lee, Chief Executive Officer, Chinese Canadian Museum Society of British Columbia
“We are very grateful for the Government of Canada’s critical support of the Chinese Canadian Museum. It comes at an important time in our collective history. The Chinese Canadian Museum will take its place in the Canadian cultural sector as a new permanent museum with provincial and national scope, focusing on public education, cultural heritage and the contributions and resilience both past and present of Chinese Canadians across British Columbia and Canada. It will be an important cultural asset, contributing to the vitality of Vancouver’s Chinatown, stimulating tourism and fostering cultural inclusion.”
—Grace Wong, Board Chair, Chinese Canadian Museum Society of British Columbia
The Chinese Canadian Museum will officially open to the public on July 1, 2023, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Immigration Act, more commonly known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, a discriminatory and racist policy that almost completely prevented people from China from entering Canada for nearly a quarter century.
The Wing Sang Building itself is considered a unique cultural destination. It includes an original Chinatown schoolroom on the third floor, a six-storey brick wall that was once part of an alley on the second floor, and renovated galleries on the second floor.
The Chinese Canadian Museum Society of British Columbia, which oversees the operations and management of the Chinese Canadian Museum, has developed, in the lead up to the museum’s official opening, six temporary exhibits in both Vancouver and Victoria’s Chinatowns, both of which are National Historic Sites of Canada.
The Canada Cultural Spaces Fund supports the improvement of physical conditions for arts, heritage, culture, and creative innovation. The Fund supports renovation and construction projects, the acquisition of specialized equipment, and feasibility studies related to cultural spaces.
The Commemorate Canada program provides funding to initiatives that commemorate and celebrate historical figures, places, events, and accomplishments of national significance.
The Tourism Relief Fund in British Columbia helps tourism businesses and organizations adapt their operations to meet public health requirements while investing in products and services to facilitate their future growth.
For more information (media only), please contact:
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
Office of the Minister Responsible for PacifiCan
Office of the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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