CGTN is launching a series that looks at Chinatowns around the world.
Many cities developed Chinese migrant communities that remain strong to this day.
In Vancouver it’s estimated that forty-three percent of metro area residents have Asian roots.
The city is home to a vibrant Chinatown, although the area continues to face challenges.
CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.
The New Town bakery is an unassuming but iconic establishment in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
It has been in business for 38 years. And on this evidence, it is easy to see why.
This is Canada’s largest Chinatown and dates back to the late 1800s.
It’s home to some unique attractions.
The Dr. Sun-Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens became the first full-size Chinese garden outside of China when it was completed in 1986.
“This garden is the pride and jewel on a cultural level. Partly because it symbolizes the accumulated depth of Chinese culture that was brought to Canada through Chinese migrations. So there is a lot of pride that comes with a cultural heritage asset that people can find attachment and associations with,” said Vincent Kwan the Executive Director of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
The city is now pushing to have this Chinatown recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, to serve as a reminder of the contributions of Chinese-Canadians.
For many years, Chinese-Canadians were restricted from owning or renting properties in other residential areas of the city.
Vancouver’s Chinatown is now one of the city’s key tourist destinations but just a few years ago the future for the area was less certain.
Although the Chinese population has continued to rise in Vancouver, demographic changes saw the development of other Chinese Canadian suburbs lessening Chinatown’s importance but that trend is now changing.
“In the last five years, we have seen a real growth in new businesses. Whereas five years ago there was a real problem with a lot of the older businesses. So we’ve been able to see a real turn where we’ve seen young people wanting to come back, who want to open businesses, who want to be in Chinatown,” said Jordan Eng part of the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Area.
June Chow is a co-founder of Youth Collaborative for Chinatown. She is calling for more focus on the cultural significance of the area.
“There has been a real gap in recognizing and investing in cultural revitalization. And revitalizing and understating the history that went into having how this neighborhood was built and why it continues to be relevant within this city,” said June Chow a co-founder of the Youth Collaborative for Chinatown.
Business and cultural leaders alike recognize that Vancouver’s Chinatown faces significant challenges ahead.
This is a vital part of the city’s heritage.
And there is a determination to keep it that way.
Ruonan Zheng discusses culture of Chinatown
CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Ruonan Zheng, a Chinese journalist, about the changing culture of Chinatown.