January 12, 2022

Brandon Leung, ‘Chinatown Forever Changing’: Jim Wong-Chu’s Pender East' - on January 19, 2022


Brandon Leung's presentation focuses on his Master of Art's thesis, which explores the historical context of late Asian Canadian artist and activist Jim Wong- Chu’s photographic and poetic album Pender East, which is held in the Jim Wong-Chu fonds, University of British Columbia Library Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC).  Leung discusses the album in the context of Asian Canadian Cultural Activism of the 1970s, the same time period when the photographs within the album were taken, applying the movement’s relationship to community, history and cultural representation to his analysis. Viewing the photographs and poems through this lens reveals how the album visually represents Chinese Canadian identity through the photographs, poems and its structure. Additionally, as much of this information is not accessible from within the RBSC database, Leung outlines how the relationship between the album and the knowledge surrounding it can be maintained through its catalogue record.   An article from Brandon Leung about the Jim Wong-Chu Fonds at the the UBC Library's Rare Books and Special Collections can be read here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022 from 4:00-7:00pm (PST) / 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (EST)

Register for this event on Eventbrite

January 3, 2022

Mata Ashita: The Japanese Canadian Writing Circle - Season 2

Mata Ashita is an intergenerational writing circle for Japanese Canadians that helps strengthen community connections and wellbeing.

About this event

On the first Saturday of each month from October to April (excluding December and New Year's Day), Mata Ashita will host its second season of virtual writing circles for Japanese Canadians of all ages and experiences.

No writing experience is necessary to join - just a commitment to holding space for yourself and others as we navigate what it means to be together in community. The workshops begin at 12 pm pacific/3 pm eastern and feature a 30-minute Q&A followed by an hour-long writing exploration and an optional 30 minute social time.

Each session will be led by an experienced facilitator (Sen Canute) and writing-for-wellness instructor (Leanne Toshiko Simpson), and will include a community support specialist (Nicola Koyanagi) to help process any difficult feelings that arise.

The second season speakers are:

Genki Ferguson, author of Satellite Love (2021) - October 2

Sachiko Murakami, author of Render (2020), Get Me Out of Here (2015), Rebuild (2011), and The Invisibility Exhibit (2008) - November 6

Darcy Tamayose, author of Odori (2007) and upcoming release Ezra's Ghosts (2022)- January 8

Tosh & Mary Kitagawa, longtime JC activists who helped achieve justice for UBC students sent to the internment camps - February 5

Kyo Maclear, author of Birds Art Life (2017), The Letter Opener (2007), and many children's books, including new release The Big Bath House (2021)- March 5.

Mark Sakamoto, author of Forgiveness: A Gift From My Grandparents (2014) - April 2

Register for multiple events ahead of time to keep your spot and help the organizers plan ahead!

Mata Ashita means see you tomorrow, and for us, that means a promise to take care of ourselves and each other during this difficult time. Japanese Canadian writing has long been a medium through which our community has found incredible power and meaning, and we hope to continue this tradition with writers new and old. If you'd like to see what we do, check out Return, the first collection of Mata Ashita writing launched with the Powell Street Festival.

To improve accessibility, Mata Ashita's events will have an intermission, captioning, text versions of readings and posted recordings of the Q&A sessions. If there are additional ways it can support your attendance, please email mataashitawriting@gmail.com.

Mata Ashita is made possible by support from the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) and the Tomoko Makabe Legacy Fund, which honours Makabe's contributions to Japanese Canadian research and writing.


December 24, 2021

City Poems Contest

What historical, cultural or ecological sites in Vancouver intrigue, fascinate, or move you? Perhaps it is the ancient Musqueam village and burial site at c̓əsnaʔəm, a specific building in historic neighbourhood such as Chinatown or Hogan’s Alley, Deadman’s Island in False Creek, Hastings Park where Japanese Canadians were interned during WW II, or Burrard inlet where 376 passengers on the steamship Komagata Maru lay at anchor for 3 months in 1914 not allowed to disembark, or one of Vancouver’s gardens, hidden streams or remaining old growth trees? Here’s your chance to write a poem related to the origins and the multifaceted history of places within the territory presently known as the City of Vancouver and the UBC Endowment Lands.   Website for submission: https://www.vpl.ca/poetlaureate


There are three categories for entering the contest:
  • Youth (grade 12 or under)
  • Adults (who have not published a book
  • Adults (who have already published one or more books)
For each category, there will be a first prize of $300, a second prize of $200, and a third prize of $100.

  • The poem must be original, unpublished and not submitted for publication elsewhere during the course of the contest.
  • Poems MUST relate in a significant way to a historical, cultural or ecological site within the area presently known as the City of Vancouver or the UBC Endowment Lands. (Poems about sites outside this area unfortunately will not be eligible.)
  • Word limit: up to 400 words per poem (less is fine). Spoken word or visual poetry: up to 3 minutes.
  • Limit of two poems maximum per poet.
  • Poems must be typed, 12 point font in Times New Roman or similar font. For spoken word poems, a print version plus a MP4 recording must be submitted..
  • Submissions will only be received between January 16 - April 15, 2022 and must be sent by email to a special contest email and submission form that will be available on the VPL poet laureate webpage on January 16.
  • Winners will be announced in June 2022.
Some possible initial resources (not a comprehensive list):

BC: An Untold History (especially segments 3 and 4 in relation to Vancouver)
Vancouver Heritage Foundation
Places that Matter
Museum of Vancouver
Vancouver Public Library’s This Vancouver
Vancouver Public Library Local History Collections
The Pacific Canada Heritage Centre: Museum of Migration Society
Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre
Chinese Canadian Museum
The Jewish Museum & Archives of BC
BC Black History Awareness Society
Sikh Heritage Month BC
Becoming Vancouver: A History by Daniel Francis
Vancouver Exposed: Searching for the City’s Hidden History and Sensational Vancouver by Eve Lazarus
Vancouver: A Visual History, by Bruce Macdonald
Historical Atlas of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, by Derek Hayes
Vancouver Remembered, by Michael Kluckner
Saltwater City: Story of Vancouver’s Chinese Community by Paul Yee
Vancouver after Dark: The Wild History of a City’s Nightlife by Aaron Chapman

*Note: A few examples of the historical, cultural and ecological sites to explore through poetry: Stanley Park, Davie Street Village, Hastings Park Livestock Buildings (Japanese Canadian WWII internment), the Japanese Language School, Hogan’s Alley, Oppenheimer Park, Crab Park, Punjabi Market, Deadman’s Island, Second Narrows Bridge, Lion’s Gate Bridge, Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden, St. Paul’s Hospital, Fountain Chapel, Mountain View Cemetery, Nat Bailey Stadium, the Chinese Freemason Building, the Sam Kee Building, Fountain Chapel, the Ancient Musqueam village burial site in Marpole, Coal Harbour where the Komagata Maru tried to dock, and Still Creek. There are dozens of specific buildings, parks, community hubs, temples, churches, hidden streams, historic gardens and neighbourhoods that could be integrated into a poem!

November 7, 2021

CHINATOWN: a new opera by Madeleine Thien & Alice Ping Yee Ho

CHINATOWN is a new opera by librettist Madeleine Thien, Hoisanese co-writer Paul Yee, and composer Alice Ping Yee Ho; commissioned by City Opera Vancouver opening September 13 to 17, 2022 at the Vancouver Playhouse. This streaming event features the world premiere of two songs and excerpts of two Hoisanese arias from the opera. Enjoy commentaries from a panel of distinguished guest speakers and performers, followed by Q&A at the end of the performance sharing insights with audience.

CHINATOWN runs September 13-17, 2022, at the Vancouver Playhouse. 

Event Details
  • September 13, 2022 8:00 pm – 17, 2022 10:00 pm
  • September 14, 2022 8:00 pm – 18, 2022 10:00 pm
  • September 15, 2022 8:00 pm – 19, 2022 10:00 pm
  • September 16, 2022 8:00 pm – 20, 2022 10:00 pm
  • September 17, 2022 8:00 pm – 21, 2022 10:00 pm

November 6, 2021

My Art Is Activism: Part III with Sid Tan

Longtime Downtown Eastside ACWW board of director, documentarian and organizer Sid Chow Tan shares selections from his extraordinary archival video collection of volunteer-produced video journalism. Sid’s choices of videos highlight Chinese Canadian social movements and direct action in Chinatown, particularly community media and redress for Chinese head tax and exclusion. Sid is grateful for the community television volunteers and staff who made possible the production, broadcast and archive of these videos. Sid also thanks the Downtown Eastside Small Arts Grant and Heart of the City Festival for their support. Online presentation by the Heart of the City Festival 2021 followed by Q&A with Sid.

September 25, 2021

Congratulations to Jinwoo Park, Winner of the Jim Wong-Chu Emerging Writers Award

The Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop (ACWW) is pleased to announce Jinwoo Park winner of the 2020 Jim Wong-Chu Emerging Writers Award for his manuscript The Oxford Soju Club. Shortly after the North Korean regime change, Yohan Kim, a North Korean intelligence agent based in Brussels, is on the run after the assassination of his mentor, Doha Kim. Disguised as Junichi Nakamura, Yohan is tasked by the dying Doha to find Dr. Hongjin Ryu, a high-ranking intelligence officer who has gone missing. He follows the only breadcrumb he has been given: Soju Club, Oxford. Park’s accomplished fiction manuscript is a riveting “tale of mystery and intrigue, C.I.A. agents, false identities, betrayal and love, each character committed to their own cause.”

Jinwoo Park is a writer based in Montreal, has won the Jim Wong-Chu Emerging Writers’ Award for his manuscript, Oxford Soju Club. Jinwoo completed his Master's in creative writing at the University of Oxford in 2015, and has been working as a marketing professional in the tech industry since and is active in scripting for film and video games.

Created in 1999 as the Emerging Writers Award and renamed in 2017 to the Jim Wong-Chu Emerging Writers Award in honour of Asian Canadian writing pioneer and mentor Jim Wong-Chu. The award continues Jim’s lifelong passion to discover and encourage writers to develop quality manuscripts and promote their work to established publishing houses. Previous award winners include Rita Wong, Madeleine Thien, Philip Huynh, Catherine Hernandez, Karla Comanda, and Jamie Liew.  

The jury consisted of Dr. Trevor Carolan, an award-winning poet, biographer, editor, and professor emerita of English and Creative Writing; Edwin Lee, author of Sum Yung Guys; and Marlene Enns, former Asian Canadian Writers Workshop board director and spouse of the late Jim Wong-Chu.