By: Ananya, Cole and Himisha
Asian Heritage Month has its roots in the United States, after one representative from New York and one from California proposed a resolution in 1977 proclaiming the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The resolution was passed and a similar one was passed through the Senate not too long after. Finally, Jimmy Carter, then president of the United States, signed a joint resolution just months later affirming the new celebration. The month of May was chosen to commemorate both the first Japanese immigrant to the US (May 7th, 1843) and the completion of the transcontinental railway, built mainly by Chinese immigrants (May 10th, 1869). Today, the celebration spans all of May and has been recognized in Canada since 2002.
The theme of Asian Heritage Month this year is “Asian Canadian Youth: Shaping Canada's Future.” It touches upon the significant contributions Asian Canadian youth have made towards the identity and heritage of the country. The festivities this month were kicked off by the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism: “This year, youth are in the spotlight. Our youth are engaged, interested; they push us to challenge conventions.” The theme this year strives to engage more youth in Canada to get involved, and organizations like the Brampton Multicultural Youth Council are also paving the way for students to speak up about issues they are passionate about. Many events have also been hosted this month including the International Film Festival of South Asia, Asian art and photo exhibitions, and many workshops, concerts, and conferences.
Diversity; representation, equity, and inclusion. Diversity is a crucial aspect of society today, everywhere! Diversity shapes us as human beings. It refers to the shared languages, beliefs, values, norms, and behaviours passed down from one generation to the next. Asian Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the contributions that Canadians of Asian origin have made, and continue to make, to prosper Canada. This month comprises of activity that recognizes the traditions and celebrations of those with Asian Descent. Whether it be partaking in contemporary Asian-Canadian culture such as poetry and dances, or understanding the historical journeys and ongoing struggles for Asian communities in our nation, Asian Heritage Month allows members within our community to thrive in the melting pot that is our nation.