KAMLOOPS — The provincial government is consulting with citizens across BC on a plan to build a museum honouring the historic contribution of Chinese Canadians.
On Saturday, BC Minister of State for Trade, George Chow, was at Thompson Rivers University as part of that consultation process.
Since before British Columbia was part of Canada, Chinese immigrants have been an important part of the fabric of BC, which is one of the reasons the province is planning to build a museum honouring the contribution of many of those immigrants during the formative years of the province.
“Chinese Canadians have been in British Columbia for over 200 years,” Chow told CFJC Today at the meeting.
A significant part of building the museum is finding out exactly how British Columbians feel that history should be represented. On Saturday, Minister Chow and his team were in Kamloops, as they held their first consultation meeting on the Museum project outside the Lower Mainland at TRU.
“The footprints of Chinese Canadians are actually all over the province, so we wanted to pull in all the artefacts and museums that are in British Columbia,” Chow explained.
The meeting drew several dozen locals, including many members of the Kamloops Chinese Cultural Association. Considering the history of Chinese Canadian settlement in the city, they wanted to make sure their input was heard.
“Kamloops has such a long Chinese history,” Executive Director of the KCCA, Joe Leong said. “It dates back to the building of the railway, I think that’s of great significance. We have the first mayor of Chinese descent [in North America]. That was Peter Wing.”
Members of the local Chinese Cultural Association say they’d like to see the museum built here in Kamloops, as a way to honour and recognize that history.
“We were here during 1852 during the gold rush,” Leong said. “Definitely Kamloops deserves a world-class Chinese museum.”
“There are a lot of tourists going through Kamloops,” KCCA President Dali Li said. “They’re going to Banff, to Wells Gray Park, to Sun Peaks, so if they can stop by the museum, then when they go back home they can tell their friends and relatives. This will promote Kamloops in the long term.”
“Hopefully we’ll also know what’s happened in other communities as well, so we will know how to move forward in our community,” Lillian Kwan, KCCA Board Member said.
While the final decision on a location for the museum is yet to be made, Minister Chow is hopeful that the lessons the museum will hold can help guide our acceptance of other cultures into the future.
“I think e can learn historically what went on,” Chow said. “But we should also look at what is happening now, and what is going to happen in the future.”
For more information on the Chinese Canadian museum consultation process, or to give your feedback, you can visit the province’s website at www.engage.give.bc.ca/chinesecanadianmuseum.
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