Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture—Objects
The Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc. has been playing a crucial role in promoting Asian Heritage Month in Central Ontario in the past nine years. Asian Heritage Month was unanimously adopted by the Senate through a motion by our founding patron, the Honourable Dr. Vivienne Poy. Representatives of the Parliament subsequently signed a declaration proclaiming Asian Heritage Month in May 2002 following the passage of her motion in the Senate in December 2001, recognizing May as Asian Heritage Month. In 2005, The Government of Ontario made the same proclamation at Queen’s Park.
Asian Heritage Month promotes Canada’s diversity. It strives to celebrate the vibrant and growing Asian community from the arts and science to sport, business, and government. This initiative offers all Canadians an opportunity to learn more about the history of Asian Canadians and to celebrate their contributions to the growth and prosperity of Canada. The objectives of our foundation are:
- To advance education by providing artistic exhibitions and educational presentations about Asian culture at museums, educational institutions, community centres, and other venues that are open to the general public.
- To develop programs that remove barriers to equal participation for racial and ethnic minorities through educational presentations about Asian culture.
- To advance education by providing scholarships, bursaries and awards to high school and post-secondary students in the greater Toronto area.
- To provide equipment, furnishings, teaching aids, and supplies to educational institutions in Canada and to educational institutions outside Canada who are also qualified donees under the provisions of the Income Tax Act (Canada), with preference to educational institutions in Central Ontario.
Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture—History
We began in 2003 to reach out to the public, especially students in the Greater Toronto Area. We invited them to participate in two parallel competitions—design an official logo and a slogan for Asian Heritage Month.
In 2004, AHM celebrates 150 years of volunteerism by the Royal Hong Kong Regiment. The photo exhibition was opened in an popular mall, frequented by Asians and other Canadians alike, by Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson. We also held a choral competition among high schools. The University of Toronto held lectures and there were many other activities.
In 2005, AHM took a leap towards greater recognition and participation by Society at large. The Toronto Catholic District School Board, the Toronto Transit Commission, Queen’s Park, the University of Toronto, the United Way of York Region, among others, supported AHM in various projects. It was during this summer that AHM received our incorporation from the Registrar of Ontario Corporation under the name of Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Incorporated—CFACI in short.
In 2006, our journey to Multiculturalism gained significant advances. The Toronto District School Board, the TTC, University of Toronto, United Way, the Blue Jays, the Toronto Public Library and the Bata Shoe Museum, among others, were our partners to promote this national program.
In 2007, AHM reached maturity, with events held territory-wide in Toronto and spread from there to Oakville and other cities in Ontario. Our partners included the University of Toronto, Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board, the TTC, United Way, The Toronto Public Library, the Bata Shoe Museum, and the Foundation to Commemorate the Chinese Railroad Workers in Canada.
In 2008, Asian Heritage Month found its artistic mission. Focusing on “Inclusive Education Through the Asian Arts,” the Asian Heritage Month Festival was held in May with Canadian Heritage funding and City of Toronto support. The highlights include a performance by Asian Artists and a Marketplace at the University of Toronto, attended by more than 100 high school students and other members of the public, followed by the Fourth Annual Asian Heritage Month Education Roundtable. There were Asian Photo and Art Exhibitions at City Hall Rotunda and Metro Hall Rotunda, and the first ever Asian Heritage Month Film Festival held at York University.
In 2009, with Toronto Arts Council and Canadian Heritage funding, Asian Heritage Month was able to present two big initiatives. First is the Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage” (VMACCH), showcasing the artistic expressions of Asian Canadian cultural heritage. Second is the 2009 Asian Heritage Month Festival featuring performances by Asian Canadian professional artists, art and photo exhibitions at City Hall and Metro Hall, a Film Festival and lectures.
In 2010, with funding from Canadian Heritage, Asian Heritage Month presented the 2010 Asian Heritage Month Festival featuring an Education Roundtable entitled “Asian-Canadian Collaboration in Education: Pathways of Enrichment”; gala performances by Asian Canadian professional artists; art and photo exhibitions at City Hall Rotunda and Metro Hall Rotunda; a Film Festival; and lectures.
In 2011, with funding from Canadian Heritage, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, the Asian Heritage Month Festival was held successfully. The highlights include an Education Roundtable entitled “Enlarging the Educational Discourse: Lessons for Canada from Educational Reforms in Hong Kong, China and India”; gala performances by Asian Canadian professional artists; art and photo exhibitions at City Hall Rotunda and Metro Hall Rotunda; a Film Festival; Asian Heritage Month Lectures; and the first ever Asian Heritage Month National Videoconference Toronto.
In 2012, with funding from Canadian Heritage, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Ontario Arts Council, the University of Toronto and York University, Asian Heritage Month Festival offered a large range of events: an Education Roundtable entitled “Asian Canadian Studies: Theories, Politics, Pedagogies”; Pan Asian Celebration at Toronto Public Library featuring keynote speech by Senator Poy on “A Decade of Achievements: Celebrating Asian Canadian Heritage”; gala performances by Asian Canadian professional artists with keynote speech by Professor Chan Ka Nin; art and photo exhibitions at City Hall Rotunda and Metro Hall Rotunda; a Film Festival, Asian Heritage Month Lectures; and the Asian Heritage Month National Videoconference Toronto.
In 2013, with funding from Canadian Heritage, Asian Heritage Month Festival features Asian Heritage Month Lecture by Joy Kogawa; Asian Heritage Month Education Roundtable on the theme “Youth, Identity and Asian Heritage” with Plenary Address by Donna Quan, Director, Toronto District School Board; Book launch of The Honourable Dr. Vivienne Poy’s book, Passage to Promise Land: Voices of Chinese Immigrant Women to Canada; Chinese Cultural Festivals at Toronto Public Library; art and photo exhibitions at City Hall Rotunda and Metro Hall Rotunda; and a Gala Performance of Asian Canadian Artists at Bata Shoe Museum.
In 2014, with funding from Canadian Heritage and Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the overall theme was “The Silk Road Connecting the East and the West.” There were Asian Heritage Month Lectures by Donna Quan, Director of Education of Toronto District School Board and Angela Gauthier, Director of Education of Toronto Catholic District School Board; Asian Heritage Month Education Roundtable on the theme “Multiculturalism, Education and Youth”; Chinese Cultural Festival and the event “IRON ROAD: History, Opera and Film” at Toronto Public Library; art and photo exhibitions at City Hall Rotunda and Metro Hall Rotunda; a Concert Gala Performance of Asian Canadian Artists at Bata Shoe Museum; and a Film Festival with panel discussions on “Asian Canadian Women in Film.”
In 2015, with funding from Canadian Heritage and Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the highlights included an Art and Photo Exhibition featuring works from Dr. Neville Poy, Mr. Stephen Siu and Mr. Tam Kam Chiu, together with Asian Canadian photographers from the Chinese Canadian Photographic Society of Toronto and the WE Art Association. Other events included an Asian Heritage Month Presentation and Concert entitled “Silk Roads II-Mongolia”; an Education Roundtable entitled “The Heart of Asia, Right Here, Right Now: As Celebration of Asian Wisdom Traditions in Canada” with talks, presentations, complete with Japanese tea ceremony demonstration and talks; Taoist Tai Chi; Sufi Dhikr at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Aga Khan Museum. The Film Festival was on “Insight and Inclusion.”
In 2016, with funding from Canadian Heritage and Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the opening ceremony featured talks on diversity at the Art and Photo Exhibition. The theme of the Asian Heritage Month Education Roundtable was “Filipino Voices in the Arts & Academia.” Other events included an Asian Canadian Authors’ Panel on “The Japanese Canadian Experience in Literature”; an Asian Heritage Month Concert on “Asian Festivals”; and a Film Festival on Exploring the Themes of “Home” Through Asian Canadian Films.
In 2017, with funding from Canadian Heritage and the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada, the overall theme was “Canada 150 | Unity in Diversity: Fusion of Communities in Canada.” There was a series of Canada 150 events around this theme in the Opening Ceremony talks, the Authors’ Readings/Concert, the Film Festival and the Art and Photo Exhibitions. The Education Roundtable was on “Tamil Culture: Past, Present and Future.”
In 2018, with funding from Canadian Heritage and the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada, there were talks on forgiveness and the need to understand one another, Concert and Arts Showcase, the Film Festival, and the Art and Photo Exhibitions on Unity in Diversity. The Education Roundtable took place on location in the school boards.
In 2019, with funding from Canadian Heritage and Canada Council for the Arts, there were digital workshops for artists; Opening Ceremony talks on Contemporary Chinese Films and the Jews in Shanghai; the Concert on practising Asian Canadian arts within Western context; the Film Festival on Impact Filmmaking; and the Art and Photo Exhibitions. The Education Roundtable was on “Culturally relevant teaching and learning strategies.”
In 2020 and 2021 with the COVID-19 pandemic, there were online presentations around Asian Canadian arts and culture for artists and the general public. These were great successes, especially because we focused on helping artists to find ways to reach out to their audience through digital means. The virtual events held in collaboration the school boards were especially successful.
In 2022 and 2023, with the waning of the pandemic, Asian Heritage Month events adopted a hybrid model, with in-person events, such as the Asian Heritage Month Concert, beginning to take place again. 2022 marked the 20th anniversary of the the Signing of the Asian Heritage Month Declaration by the Senate of Canada, a Motion proposed by The Honourable Dr. Vivienne Poy, the first Canadian of Asian descent to be appointed to the Senate of Canada. Dr. Poy and Mr. Justin Poy talked about “Asian Heritage Month: purpose, relevance and what we can expect” at the Asian Heritage Month Opening Ceremony.
Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture—Mandate
The mandate of Asian Heritage Month-CFACI is to pursue the representation and dissemination of Asian Canadian experiences through art and culture created by Asian Canadian artists and Asian Canadians.
Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture—Mission
To enable Canadians to learn more about the historical contributions made by Asian Canadians and to celebrate their achievements in Canada, we will, persistently, explore, support and promote artistic expressions and creativities pursued and produced by Asian Canadian artists, who continue to bring out the distinctive voices from the diverse Asian Canadian communities into Canadian art and culture.
Our website is http://vmacch.com
Founding Honourary Patron: The Honourable Dr. VIvienne Poy
Honourary Patron: Mr. Justin Poy
Board of Directors
President: Dr. Kay Li
Vice-President (External): Mr. Zul Kassamali
Vice-President (Internal): Dr. Lien Chao
Treasurer: Mr. Naushad Hirji
Secretary: Dr. Jack Leong
For the story behind the founding of CFACI, please see Achieving A Dream by Zul Kassamali.