B.C. invests $10M to establish Canada’s first Chinese Canadian museum

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government is investing $10 million to build a museum to honour the contributions of Chinese Canadians to the province’s history.

The province says the Chinese Canadian Museum will be the first in the country’s history, with a provincial hub in Vancouver’s Chinatown and several regional branches throughout B.C.

The $10-million investment includes $2 million for planning and development work, and $8 million to establish an endowment and provide ongoing support.

“We’ve been working closely with the community for years and it has told us how important this museum is for everyone in B.C.,” said Premier John Horgan in a statement Thursday.

“We are at a critical point when it comes to conversations about race, inequality and injustice in this province. Now is the time to come together to share the stories about how our province got to where it is – and to have conversations about where we want it to go,” the premier added.

In addition to the Vancouver hub and regional branches, the province says the museum will include an online portal and “digital experiences” centred around locations across B.C.

A newly formed, non-profit Chinese Canadian Museum Society of British Columbia will lead development and operate the museum, the province says. The society’s inaugural board is made up of 20 members, including representatives from both the provincial government and the City of Vancouver.

The society is chaired by Grace Wong, a former senior advisor to the University of British Columbia’s provost office.

The society plans to kick off the museum initiative with a temporary exhibit at 27 E. Pender St. in Vancouver in August. The exhibit, titled A Seat at the Table, will explore the history of Chinese immigration and is a partnership with the City of Vancouver, UBC and the Museum of Vancouver.

The society has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the newly formed Victoria Chinatown Museum Society for the first regional hub and the launch of a pocket gallery in Victoria’s historic Fan Tan Alley.

The pocket gallery is anticipated to open in time for the recognition of Chinese Cultural Heritage Week from July 20 to 27.

“Now more than ever, we need to come together and learn from each other,” said B.C. Tourism Minister Lisa Beare. “People told us they want a museum to showcase the diversity of Chinese Canadian history and culture, past and present. This museum will help foster a more inclusive society.”

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