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.

IN THE NEWS: CBC - Cultural sites ‘under constant attack,’ director says, as graffiti and vandalism blight Vancouver’s Chinatown

IN THE NEWS: CBC - Cultural sites ‘under constant attack,’ director says, as graffiti and vandalism blight Vancouver’s Chinatown

MP Jenny Kwan, who represents the riding of Vancouver East that straddles both neighbourhoods, said she's been advocating for more financial grants for the community at the federal level.

She's also among those lobbying for the neighbourhood to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which would deem it an international landmark with legal protection and could help secure the funding to preserve and maintain its streets.

"We need to do it, and work together to recreate Chinatown with its history and to value its character," she said. "But we need capital investment."

IN THE NEWS: Global News - ‘We’ve really reached a tipping point’: Scarred by COVID, Chinatown leaders want city to remember its commitment

IN THE NEWS: Global News - ‘We’ve really reached a tipping point’: Scarred by COVID, Chinatown leaders want city to remember its commitment

Said Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan: “Chinatown as we know will disappear if we do not get the support from all levels of government.”
Kwan wrote Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland in July 2020, calling for a lifeline for the National Historic Site in the form of federal emergency funding.
In comparison, federally-owned Granville Island received $17 million in emergency relief in 2020, with another $22 million earmarked in the 2021 budget.
She told Global News she received no response.  “I’d like to ask the government what is the difference between Granville Island and Chinatown. Are we less important?”
Global News put the question to Freeland, but she did not offer a clear answer, and instead used the opportunity to praise the federal wage and rent subsidies.
OPEN LETTER to Immigration Minister on delays in processing for family and spousal sponsorships

OPEN LETTER to Immigration Minister on delays in processing for family and spousal sponsorships

Could you please advise specifically innovation actions has been taken or are being planned, what budget and resources have been allocated within IRCC to employ these “innovative solutions” and what is the timetable for the implementation of these measures.
Finally, some of the individuals who are in the midst of the spousal sponsorship process have written me with their concerns that their letters or emails to the Minister, or even their participation in petition or social media campaigns to raise public awareness of the difficulties that they face are allegedly being logged as notes in IRCC’s Global Case Management System (GCMS). As one writer noted, “Our right to advocate peacefully is guaranteed by the Canadian constitution. Should these notes be held against spousal sponsorship applicants, or in any way hinder their application process, this would represent a serious and fundamental breach of our constitutional rights.” Could you please verify whether these correspondences or other communications are being logged in the GCMS, and if so for what reason. 

OPEN LETTER to Deupty Prime Minister and Finance Minister on federal emergency funding needed to save historic Chinatown

OPEN LETTER to Deupty Prime Minister and Finance Minister on federal emergency funding needed to save historic Chinatown

Your government has been made aware of the dire situation for businesses in Vancouver since the start of the pandemic. As you are aware, a recent announcement was made for Granville Island in Vancouver, a site owned by the federal government, where a special provision is made and $17 million is made available to provide rent relief for the merchants, theatres and artisans for a full year. While I support and appreciate the Federal government’s action in support of Granville Island, I would like to emphasize that historic Chinatown is in need of special consideration from your government. The significance of Vancouver’s Chinatown, a national historic site, is undeniably valuable to our city, our province and indeed our country.
Even before the pandemic occurred, Chinatown was already in a delicate state. The neighbourhood was ranked number three on the Heritage Vancouver Society’s top 10 watch list of endangered sites in Vancouver in 2018 and listed as the top 10 endangered places of the National Trust for Canada in 2016. In fact, ongoing gentrification and immense pressure from developers have already been impacting Chinatown’s rich cultural essence. The loss of small business merchants would only increase the risk of Chinatown losing its unique urban cultural characteristics.

IN THE NEWS: Make anti-racism part of COVID-19 response, opposition MP tells Ottawa

Anti-racism should be part of Canada’s response to COVID-19 in light of the surge of hate crimes across the country during the pandemic, says an opposition MP.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan is calling on the Liberal government to show leadership by hosting a federal-provincial-territorial meeting to discuss the rise in hate incidents and come up with ways to flatten that curve.

IN THE NEWS: Vancouver's Chinese Cultural Centre defaced with 'hateful' graffiti: police

Vancouver police are asking for help in identifying a male suspect after someone defaced several large windows of the Chinese Cultural Centre with what officers called "hateful" graffiti.

The suspect walked into the courtyard of the centre on Columbia Street on April 2 and wrote "disturbing, racist remarks toward the Asian community on four large glass windows," according to a release Friday.

Const. Tania Visintin said incidents like this are happening more often in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. She described them as "disheartening."

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