In honour of Asian Heritage Month 2022, we’re pleased to share the story of our Gastown neighbour S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a social services organization supporting those embarking on their Canadian journey. Based in Chinatown, they are one of British Columbia's largest nonprofits.
We've also updated our ever-popular list of festivities and delicious Asian food favourites shared by our staff.
The power of coming together
The mission of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is to empower people of different diversities to realize and achieve their goals. Their programs support the human need—and right—for a sense of belonging, wellness, and independence.
Given the unfortunate rise in anti-Asian crimes across BC, it’s a priority more than ever for S.U.C.C.E.S.S. to bring awareness to the many ways in which Asians have enriched Vancouver. The organization has been integral in advancing anti-racism solutions with governments.
Our organization is proud to stand against racism and hate crimes in our communities, and across Canada. If we don’t take a stand, and hold our heads high, these events will spiral downward. We must learn to live harmoniously while respecting and sharing the values of one another.”Queenie Choo, CEO at S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
When COVID-19 hit, the organization pivoted their services to address emerging and evolving needs. Through more funding, they have expanded essential services to support those experiencing isolation, marginalization, and exclusion.
One of those essentials is a multi-lingual counselling program providing mental wellness services. The pandemic tripled the need for this service, and S.U.C.C.E.S.S. has responded by expanding the program to include virtual delivery. They have been able to serve 24% more clients than in previous years.
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. also offers a host of other important programs and services. With support from fundraising efforts and dedicated volunteers, the organization has accomplished a lot in 2021, including:
- A program giving isolated seniors and refugees in the Tri-Cities technology to access up-to-date government and community resources about COVID-19, and to stay socially connected.
- Increased support for affordable housing residents, including access to groceries and prepared meals, and ways to maintain their health and wellness.
- Welcoming and supporting over 9,600 temporary foreign workers (TFWs) arriving in Vancouver through the Community Airport Newcomers Network (CANN) program. Arrivers to BC received important health and safety information to live and work here.
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. offers many other services including: obtaining gainful employment, learning the English language, building economic resilience for female immigrants, and developing leadership skills for youth.
For more information, to donate, or check out their volunteer opportunities, please visit the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. website.
Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice
A community partner of S.U.C.C.E.S.S., the Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice supports the youth and low-income immigrant seniors living in Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside neighbourhoods. They offer a range of programs to help their clients, including the Sticky Rice Collective led by queer and trans youth who organize intergenerational events and engage in social justice leadership in Chinatown. Yarrow is also working to bring awareness and improve the language barriers for seniors whose first language isn’t English, in accessing COVID-19 related health care. To support Yarrow, you can take part in their Heart to Heart fundraising efforts running until June 20.
We hope you take the time to celebrate (and taste!) all the different ways Asians have enriched our community for Asian Heritage Month 2022—and every month. Here are just a few ideas from our staff on how to get started.
Be an ally
Together we can contribute to creating safe spaces for our community members. There are many ways to be an ally to people within a minority group or those being discriminated against. You can learn more by taking courses, reading stories, and joining initiatives. Here’s a few resources we’ve found to get you started:
- Right to Be’s free bystander intervention training
- BOLT Safety Society’s Safe Buddies program consists of volunteers who help individuals who are feeling unsafe get to their destination safely. This includes seniors, non-binary people, and women, and is inclusive of transgender and cisgender people.
- Organizations including Project 1907, Elimin8Hate, and the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice focus on providing confidential reporting tools for instances of racism. The data helps organizations and governments develop strategies, design interventions, and advocate for policies.
Festivities around Vancouver
Richmond Night Market
The Richmond Night Market is back for 2022. This year’s theme is Summer Magic Rainbow and boasts performances each weekend, an International Food Fair, and Express Passes. The market was founded in 2000 and it's now seen as the largest of its kind in North America. The market attracts over 1 million visitors from around the world each year. Founder Raymond Cheung incorporates entertainment and themes to the market each year. Previous themes include Return of the Dragon, Magical Candyland, and Pirates.
The 26th annual explorASIAN Festival features over 60 Asian Heritage Month events, both in-person and virtual, held across the Vancouver area. The event includes live performances, workshops, and speaker sessions.
This year’s festival spotlights emerging Canadians of Asian descent in arts and culture. There is expanded programming exploring important issues that Asian Canadian communities in our region and beyond are facing. The event runs through May 31, 2022. Check out the full event guide.
Vancouver Hong Kong Fair
The very first Vancouver Hong Kong Fair is happening on Saturday, May 14 from Noon to 6 pm. The event is hosted by HK House, and will take place at SFU Harbour Centre. A limited number of free tickets will be available at the door.
“The fair is a free gathering of Vancouver-based Hong Kongers to celebrate and preserve their unique culture. It’s also a safe and welcoming space where folks can support the community’s artisans, creators and small businesses.” —Heiky Kwan, HK House.
LiterASIAN is celebrating its 10th anniversary with this year’s event, Finding Our Voices: Telling Our Stories. Originally launched in 2013 as a community-building initiative, LiterASIAN is a festival celebrating the works of Asian Canadian and racialized writers. The event is May 7-15 and tickets are available through Eventbrite.
Support local restaurants
If you know anything about OXD (and our sister company ThoughtFarmer), you know we love to eat! Several of our staff considers themselves foodies, so we took to our #food Slack channel again this year and asked our staff for their favorite Asian restaurants and eats.
Preston Chang, a Software Tester at ThoughtFarmer, enjoys the Omelet Hayashi Rice from Noah’s Cafe, the Pork Belly Bowl at Yama cafe, the Omakase Aburi Sushi at Takenaka has take out only or you can try their food truck), and the Beef Noodle Soup at Torafuku.
OXD Designer Shirley Zhou says the food courts at Crystal Mall and Richmond Public Market will take you on an Asian food adventure. “Don’t be intimidated at how busy they get, it's worth it!”, she boasts.
User Experience Designer at OXD, Lilian Leung, says Healthy Soyfoods in Crystal Mall has the best tofu dessert in town! Other favourites are Mui Garden for Hong Kong style cafe food, Sun Fresh Bakery in Chinatown, Kam Wai Dim Sum for both in-restaurant and take home frozen items, and Lilian says the food is great and the portions are huge at Pho Super Bowl.
Lawrence Chan, Senior System Administrator at OXD, has lots of favourites, so we’re listing some new ones from last year’s recommendations! Check out Dosanko for homestyle Japanese food. For a diverse menu of hawker-style dishes, Singapore Hawker is worth the drive to Coquitlam. Family-run New Town Bakery and Restaurant has been serving the very best chinese and filipino baked goods and pastries since 1980.
ThoughtFarmer’s Director of Customer Success, Carolien Dekeersmaeker, enjoys Kissa Santo, a delightful fusion of Japanese and Italian cooking. And the urban atmosphere at Kingyo is perfect for their tapas-style Japanese fusion food and drinks.
Some restaurants may even be offering special meals or treats for Asian Heritage Month around Vancouver in 2022! It's worth the online search to see what's happening near you.
Let’s all celebrate Asian Heritage Month 2022… together!
What makes our communities great is the diverse and interesting cultures and personalities we bring to them. Use this month as a special opportunity to celebrate and value the contributions and culture of our Asian neighbours—this month, and all year round!
To learn more about Asian history in our area, read our 2021 article Ways you can recognize Asian Heritage Month in Vancouver.