ACAM 390A Guest Lecture: Carmel Tanaka (Cross Cultural Walking Tours)

On May 18th, 2021, the ACAM 390A class welcomed Carmel Tanaka, program coordinator of Cross Cultural Walking Tours (CCWT), to discuss her work. CCWT is a walking tour in collaboration with a number of cultural heritage organisations connected to Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood. Currently, the tour traverses Jewish Strathcona, Hogan’s Alley, Chinatown, DTES and Powell Street, focusing on histories and sites related to education. 

Carmel talked about how her own experience of the various existing walking tours in the neighbourhood shaped the conception of CCWT. She saw different cultural histories being told, at times in the same places. Noticing where these tours crossed paths, she wanted to know more about these communities’ shared histories.

CCWT seeks to unsettle multicultural divisions between communities by centering cross-cultural relations, while also inviting people to learn more about the myriad histories of Strathcona and its surrounding areas. It’s about multiple communities coming together and sharing their histories, and remembering that the neighbourhood was and continues to be a space where a diverse set of peoples interact. Carmel also expressed her hopes for the program’s future of improving accessibility, ensuring that communities are being appropriately represented, and sharing more stories of people experiencing each other’s cultures in this space. 

So much of the history we learn about our own communities is segregated and state-driven, so it was really exciting to see that an initiative like this exists, where communities tell their histories alongside each other. During the discussion, Carmel emphasised how important it was for her to build relationships of trust and reciprocity with her partners and the communities involved, and we were able to see how this practice was reflected in the vision for CCWT. Learning about shared histories is a part of building reciprocal relationships between communities and cultivating cross-cultural solidarity. 

Look for Cross Cultural Walking Tours on Facebook or Instagram to learn more about the program, or take the virtual tour!


Written by Moira Henry