Chinatown Reimagined: A Community Forum on Cultural Heritage-Making

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With growing community efforts to recognize Vancouver’s Chinatown as a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, UBC INSTRCC’s most recent project hopes to highlight revitalization efforts within an important site of Canadian history.

Our collaboration with the City of Vancouver’s Chinatown Transformation Team and Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group brought subject experts and community leaders to highlight active discussions and point out future directions. The goal is to bring together diverse people who are passionate about Chinatown and its future and to discuss its role as a local and global cultural heritage district. 

Chinatown Reimagined: A Virtual Community Forum

Taking place in October 2021, Chinatown Reimagined was a three-day community forum with 6 interactive sessions exploring innovative, community-led approaches on key topics surrounding the future of Vancouver Chinatown. The live sessions in total attracted over 1100 registered attendees across the three-day span of the event.

Presenters and panelists included community organizations, business operators, heritage practitioners, cultural groups, representatives from historic sites and Chinatowns around the world, the next generation of leaders, and academics.

You can read more details of this project on the Chinatown Reimagined website.


Virtual Exhibition

Led by the supervision team of Dr. Henry Yu, Jenny Lu, Tyler Mark, and Denise Fong, our student research team also played a critical content creation role in the curation of Chinatown Reimagined’s virtual exhibition. Student responsibilities touched upon a diverse set of skills, including interviewing, filmmaking, content curation, web design and development, translation, and overall engagement with the Chinatown community. 

Through months of detailed planning, research, design, and collaboration, our student team created a unique collection of interactive virtual interfaces that breaks down the historic background of Vancouver Chinatown’s cultural heritage and key community preservation efforts.


These projects include short film series, a web-comic, an interactive photo gallery, and other interactive guides. To appreciate these student creations in full, please visit Chinatown Reimagined’s virtual exhibition on a computer browser.


Bilingual Support

This project was designed with bi-lingual accessibility support for the Chinese Canadian community. Live Mandarin interpretation was incorporated during our live sessions and our student research team took the lead with translating communication material.

You can find full credits of the INSTRCC research team’s involvement on Chinatown Reimagined’s credit page. You can also view progress vignettes of UBC INSTRCC’s student research team through #ChinatownReimagined on Instagram.


What’s Next?

Historic Chinatowns across the globe are facing critical decisions about the next steps in cultural preservation and their futures as communities. There are plans to continue Chinatown Reimagined as a recurring event to help facilitate these conversations both in Vancouver Chinatown and global communities. 

New waves of community leaders are actively sharing their lived experiences while introducing new perspectives on their cultural history to the greater society. We hope events like Chinatown Reimagined can continue to encourage discussions and inspire people to fight for causes that are personal to them.


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Written by Daniel Chen