Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage – 2009
Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage | Dream to reality
Dr. Kay Li
The dream of a space to highlight the unique cultural heritage and contributions of Asian Canadians became a reality in June 2009 with the official launch of the Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage (VMACCH) at York University. Senator Vivienne Poy, the Patron of Asian Heritage Month Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc. and Honourary Chair of the Board of Advisors, Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage (VMACCH), announced the VMACCH literally with a bang, beating on a Japanese Taiko Drum. The festive occasion was followed by a spectacular performance by Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers.
Caption: Senator Vivienne Poy (Centre) beat on a Japanese Taiko Drum, overlooked by the Board of Directors of Asian Heritage Month, Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc., Japanese-Canadian writer Joy Kogawa (2nd right), Indo-Canadian classical vocalist Gauri Guha (1st right), York University President Emerita Lorna Marsden (2nd left) who is also a Trustee of the Gardiner Museum, Dr. Martin Singer, Dean Designate of Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies (3rd right), Dr. Susan Henders (4th right), Director of the York Centre for Asian Research, and Dr. Adrian Shubert, Associate Vice-President International (5th right).
“I am delighted that there will finally be an online forum to showcase Asian Canadian culture and heritage. This virtual museum is a great opportunity for Asian Canadians to come together across the country in an ongoing dialogue,” said Canadian Senator Vivienne Poy, the Patron of Asian Heritage Month Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc. and Honourary Chair of the Board of Advisors, Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage (VMACCH). “It also has the potential to be a superb educational tool for students, among others, who want to learn more about our Asian Canadian communities.”
Partnership between Volunteers and Museums
VMACCH is spearheaded by the Toronto voluntary organization Asian Heritage Month—Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc., which provides opportunities for Asian Canadians to share their heritage and to promote a better understanding of Asian heritage by focusing annually on the month of May, designated as Asian Heritage Month. The virtual museum is a prime example of how volunteers can team up with museums not only to create new online teaching resources for teachers and students in schools, but also make museum exhibits accessible to the general public free of charge in Canada, and introduce Asia-Canadian cultural heritage to people all over the world.
The project is made possible by partnerships with museums: the Bata Shoe Museum and the Gardiner Museum. It also features online exhibits from the Canadian Foundation for Chinese Heritage Preservation. The Lead Partner is York Centre for Asian Research, York University. Other Partners include 2006 art club, Alphabeta Consultants, Chinese Canadian Photographic Society of Toronto, Chinese Pen Society of Canada, Richard Charles Lee Library, University of Toronto, Social Services Network and WE Artists Association. Asian Heritage Month organizations from other parts of Canada, especially Accès Asie, Asian Heritage Society of New Brunswick and Ottawa Asian Heritage Month Society also contributed much to the project. In addition, there are School Board Partners: Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board.
The project was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy.
The Online Exhibits
VMACCH showcases the cultural experiences and expressions of Asian Canadians in a variety of capacities from across Canada. It provides insight into how this demographic experiences life in Canada, how Asian Canadians choose to express their traditional culture and heritage, and what these expressions and experiences mean to Asian Canadian communities
The virtual museum aspires to be as inclusive as possible in regards to the material it exhibits. From videos of professional artists’ performances, photo galleries of contemporary Asian photographers’ work, stories shared between grandparents and grandchildren, to other multimedia to work on traditional festivals celebrated within Asian Canadian communities; every effort was made to examine a variety of perspectives and give them all an equal voice in the project, said the organizing committee of VMACCH.
VMACCH not only allows for the preservation and online showcasing of one of Canada’s most culturally diverse communities, but it also provides a meeting place for Asian Canadians and other Canadians to come together to share in cultural experiences. By creating an easy to navigate, accessible meeting place, it opens the barriers often encountered in cultural exchanges.
The educational value of the project is also significant, as the museum allows free, online access to a rich and abundant cultural ocean of knowledge for both students and educators.
The featured topics are:
- General history of Asian Canadians
- Prominent Asian Canadians
- Artistic Contributions—Visual Art, Music, Dance, Written Word, Festivals
- Traditions and Storytelling
- Science, Technology & business
- Cultural History & Education
- Social History
- Political History
The VMACCH theme music is written by Professor David Keane, Professor Emeritus (Theory/Composition) of the School of Music at Queens University. It is creative combination of Asian and Canadian music, including a variation of “O Canada”.
“The experiences of Asian Canadians nationwide are an important part of Canada’s past, present and future. We want this museum to reflect and celebrate these contributions,” said the organizing committee of the project.