Pre-Symposium events

Getting on the same page to create action at the 2nd National Asian
Heritage Month Symposium

𝑪𝒐𝒏𝒏𝒆𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 – 𝑨𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 – 𝑴𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒖𝒎 – 𝑺𝒐𝒍𝒊𝒅𝒂𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒚
𝑺𝒕𝒓𝒆𝒏𝒈𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝑨𝒔𝒊𝒂𝒏 𝑪𝒂𝒏𝒂𝒅𝒊𝒂𝒏 𝑨𝒓𝒕𝒔, 𝑪𝒖𝒍𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑯𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒂𝒈𝒆

In anticipation of the 2nd National Asian Heritage Month Symposium, we held a Pre-Symposium event series. We wanted to create actions that address the challenges that festivals, organizations and artists are facing across the country.

The goal for these events were to:

  • equitize engagement;
  • encourage actions during the symposium rather than “preaching to the converted”
  • have better understanding of differing perspectives and options; and
  • engage with greater confidence after having met some of the participants prior to the event.

Note:  Pre-symposium online events was held in English with French translation chat offered. These events were not recorded in order to maintain privacy for those participating.


𝐓𝐮𝐞𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐀𝐮𝐠𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝟏𝟏: 𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐨𝐫 𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐀𝐬𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐌𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡
𝟕:𝟑𝟎-𝟗:𝟎𝟎 𝐏𝐌 𝐄𝐒𝐓

We opened with a beautiful open discussion on questions of identity and the importance of promoting Asian heritage. Actions were suggested to work together to break the isolation, to connect together across ethnicity, to share ideas, to understand our similarities and our differences, to fight our fears and to move forward together. We agreed that Asian heritage month is a means to strengthen identity, to promote and celebrate the diversity and depth of Asian culture and heritage. However we should move beyond the month of May, to amplify Asian presence in the arts and culture. Suggestions were made such as having a year-round showcase of Asians across the provinces, highlighting the contributions made, going to schools to educate and increase visibility of Asians across discipline and sector, using Black History Month as a model.

𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐀𝐮𝐠𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝟏𝟑: 𝐈𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐃𝐢𝐠𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐠𝐲 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮? – with Michelle Sullivan
𝟏:𝟎𝟎-𝟐:𝟑𝟎 𝐏𝐌 𝐄𝐒𝐓

Please see the below video excerpt of the executive summary of the digital strategy survey. More details on next steps will be discussed on September 13 at the symposium event.

𝐓𝐮𝐞𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐀𝐮𝐠𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝟏𝟖: 𝐂𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐀𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐯𝐬 𝐂𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐀𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧: 𝐒𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐅𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬, 𝐈𝐧𝐮𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐌𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐬
𝟕:𝟑𝟎-𝟗:𝟎𝟎 𝐏𝐌 𝐄𝐒𝐓

This group defined what is colonization and how we can decolonize our own artistic practices so that we can be in better solidarity with First Nations, Metis and Inuit. To summaries, we determined that we need dialogue, access and measures to counter erasure, time to share our thoughts and feelings, offer an apology, to let go anger and frustration, to consider expressions of art outside the understood cannon, to be more open minded, increase cultural sensitivity, etc. Collectively we created a manifesto of commitments that we would love for people to enact during the symposium in an effort to increase solidarity;

  • Act with equality and respect
  • Be mindful in communication
  • Be tolerant and aware
  • Actively listen
  • Acknowledging wrong doings
  • Appreciating the other
  • Recognizing English is not the language in our DNA
  • Recognizing the different entry and access points into the conversation may be different
  • Recognize privilege
  • Respect and honour
  • Understand that power dynamics exist
  • Constructively question Support eachother
  • Appreciation is fundamental
  • Questioning extraction
  • Radically collaborate and love

𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐀𝐮𝐠𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝟐𝟎: 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐓𝐨𝐨𝐥𝐬: 𝐀 𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧
𝟏:𝟎𝟎-𝟐:𝟑𝟎 𝐏𝐌 𝐄𝐒𝐓

This discussion centred on how to make tools and resources accessible to everyone. We explored our real needs, what we lack and what resources we can offer.
We spoke about developing a connection with all the Asian heritage chapters and organizations that celebrate Asian Heritage Month in Canada and beyond. Proposals were made to open conversations with artists on how they can be presented in the online space in the post covid landscape. We need to support relationships for mutual mentorship between “general population artists” and people from our cultural communities. We need to have workshops on digital literacy and a space real or virtual to archive the work of Asian artists. Participants also addressed the nuanced differences between Asian Canadians engagement with content and material and the barriers that exist.
Lastly, we spoke on the importance of how to create better connectivity with general audiences..

𝐓𝐮𝐞𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐀𝐮𝐠𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝟐𝟓: 𝐁𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐍𝐞𝐭𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐨𝐟 𝐀𝐬𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐂𝐚𝐧𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐀𝐫𝐭𝐬, 𝐂𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐠𝐞
𝟕:𝟑𝟎-𝟗:𝟎𝟎 𝐏𝐌 𝐄𝐒𝐓

Creation of a National Network of Asian Canadians in Arts, Culture and Heritage has its challenges and benefits, but overall there was consensus that we need to create an umbrella body to connect, collaborate and increase visibility. There is a clear understanding that each region in Canada has its own particular context, political stance, needs and desires and in some locations the Network does not serve to be useful.
The greatest opportunity is to create communication to collaborate and address gaps in training for POC, visibility, lack of touring circuits and funds. Promoting a better understanding of what is inclusivity, resource sharing, problem solving and support are potential benefits of a network.

Solutions proposed during the discussions to be put into action during the symposium:

  • More digital exchanges and collaborations
  • Support the artists to create more visibility
  • Virtual co-working spaces
  • Encourage the next generation to participate
  • Produce mechanisms nationally to engage in the education system
  • Creating partnerships with provinces to create exchanges that rotate
  • Develop a touring circuit
  • Residency opportunities not only for artists but also in administration

The National Network core team could also help to carry the momentum of the digital strategy and follow up national symposiums in different locations across the country.

𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐀𝐮𝐠𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝟐𝟕: 𝐅𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐀𝐬𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐫𝐭𝐬, 𝐂𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐠𝐞
𝟏:𝟎𝟎-𝟐:𝟑𝟎 𝐏𝐌 𝐄𝐒𝐓

The funding sources available to individuals and organizations were explained during the meeting. These are sites that offer summaries of Covid funding:

We already know that there are barriers to funding, for example: difficult to fit criteria, understanding of system, not user friendly, and difficult to find the appropriate funding. This leads to a lot of fear and stress compounded by the cultural norm not to self promote.
We touched on interesting questions on how to dismantle the current system to better serve under-represented populations, and how to help each other together.
We started to build a strategic plan to prevent barriers, to add suggestions and solutions for making funding applications easier. A few suggestions offering were:
– more welcoming environments to meet program officers,
– to have funders do more consultations with under-represented communities to understand the language we speak,
– to open conversations on the cultural translation between grant speak and Asian artist speak
– to normalize applying and not receiving a positive result, including more Asians on evaluation committees.

Everyone agreed for co-working and co-share meetings and to organize grant reading/writing workshops to help each other and be united.

Together in these pre-symposium events, we opened the conversations and we commit to getting the information to the correct stakeholders. However, we need your help in the symposium to activate and keep the momentum going.
Let’s move beyond this conversation and see change before the 3rd national symposium.