Vancouver Chinatown, located in the heart of Vancouver East, is a national heritage site with monumental cultural and historical significance. Chinatown originally developed due to discriminatory laws forbidding people of Chinese heritage from living and working elsewhere in the city, a history that is shared with Indigenous, Black, and other racialized communities who were also marginalized in the area. This history is reflected in the physical and social constitution of Chinatown, where many of its historic struggles persist today.
The distinctive and beautiful buildings in the community, constructed by benevolent associations to help fellow community members, are living monuments to both the struggle and resilience of the community. Many of the historic buildings continue to serve the community today as gathering places, activity spaces, and homes for Chinese Canadian seniors. Monuments and museums in the neighbourhood continue to document and teach the history of Chinatown. A younger generation of passionate activists and cultural workers are fighting to protect Chinatown as a site of not only cultural preservation, but also as a community that can foster intergenerational connections and support the emergence a progressive and inclusive Chinese-Canadian culture.
However, despite its status as a national historic site, Vancouver's Chinatown on Heritage Vancouver and the National Trust’s endangered places lists. Gentrification and lack of affordable housing is having profound impacts on the community, as heritage businesses, families and low-income seniors are priced out. The pandemic has exacerbated the challenges faced by heritage businesses and low-income community members who were already struggling before the pandemic. Despite the passion and resilience of the community, Chinatown needs support from the government to survive. I will continue to stand with the Chinatown community in the fight for the heart and soul of this beautiful community.