Burnaby Village Museum Programs

Virtual Museum Programming during COVID-19

Summer 2020, four UBC students and alumni interned with the Burnaby Village Museum (BVM) on projects highlighting Chinese Canadian history in Burnaby. This marks the third year of a joint partnership between the Burnaby Village Museum, the UBC Initiative for Student Teaching and Research in Chinese Canadian Studies (INSTRCC), the UBC Asian Canadian & Asian Migration Studies program (ACAM), the UBC Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL), the UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems, UBC Go Global, and UBC St. John’s College (SJC)

Due to the restrictions of COVID-19, this year’s interns were tasked with creating virtual experiences that reimagined BVM’s historical Chinese Canadian programming in remote online spaces. Working under the co-supervision of UBC and BVM staff, these internships provided invaluable opportunities for students to apply what they learned in the classroom and on international travels to the Burnaby Village Museum’s research, programming, and exhibits. 

Debbie Liang and Joty Gill—UBC alumni and graduates of Dr. Henry Yu’s 2019 summer ACAM 390 Global Seminar to Asia—returned to work with the BVM this summer on the production of two short films showcasing the history of Chinese Canadian Chop Suey restaurants and piggeries in Burnaby.   


Film stills by Debbie Liang

Two other interns, Rose Wu and Wei Yan Yeong, are current students in UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems. This summer, they were tasked with the reinterpretation of the BVM’s market garden, highlighting its association with early Chinese Canadian market farming in the region. The resulting project was a three-episode podcast series, aptly named Back to the Roots, which delves into the topics of family-operated farming businesses, Chinese contributions to early local and alternative food systems, and Traditional Chinese Medicine and herbalism. 

Check out the students’ projects at: 


BVM Summer 2019 

In the summer of 2019, UBC ACAM390 students returned to do summer internships with the Burnaby Village Museum for the second year of a joint partnership between Burnaby Village Museum and INSTRCC.

Two student teams applied learnings from their Asia trip to contribute to the Burnaby Village Museum’s research and programming on Chinese Canadian history. Debbie Liang and Marcela Gomez conducted research on three early Chinese Canadian industries: piggeries, restaurants, and laundries; designing interactive programming around their findings. They created art panels that represented the three industries, including flip-up flaps that contained historical tid-bits. The pair also led visitors on short interpretive tours of the museum. 

Joty Gill and Vanessa Chan designed additions to living history museums in the form of a visual compilation of migration stories. Their work included a comic strip and other interactive activities for families and children. The pair were also charged with analyzing visitor attendance and survey data, creating a report for the Burnaby Village Museum on their findings. 


Story Garden, Story Harvest Station, & Garden Party 

The summer of 2018, students from ACAM390, Jenny Lu and Stephanie Johnson, interned at the Burnaby Village Museum for the first year of the museum’s partnership with the UBC Initiative for Student Teaching and Research in Chinese Canadian Studies (INSTRCC). Tasked with creating an interpretive experience for the museum’s Chinese market garden site, the pair came up with a 3-fold project that included a Story Garden, Story Harvest Station, and Garden Party, with the aim to “engage, educate, and empower museum guests”. 

The “Story Garden” explored the history of Chinese-Canadian farmers and their contributions to BC’s food system through six interpretive story panels, called “Story Cards,” in the Story Garden. Visitors were also introduced to information on the crops grown in the garden. The cards were translated into Traditional Chinese with the help of Lu’s grandma. 

The “Story Harvest Station” was a pop-up space that acted as an addition to the “Story Garden”. Museum guests were invited to share their personal stories of food, migration, and culture. Selected story cards were hung up around the canopy tent and visitors had the opportunity to read other people’s contributions. Both the “Story Garden” and “Story Harvest Station” aimed to address the lack of interactive exhibit objects that engaged visitors directly on the topic of Chinese-Canadian history and empower guests to recognize the importance of their individual stories in Burnaby’s local history. 

To close off the two-month summer internship, the pair planned a Garden Party inspired by Josephine Chow’s reflection on the community gatherings Big Bend farmers used to hold during the “off season”. The Garden Party was hosted to celebrate and thank the community (Burnaby Heritage Plaque Advisory Committee, ACAM staff, the Hong family, Edmund Leong, and other community partners) for their contributions toward BVM’s Big Bend market garden exhibit. The event was also an opportunity to share with community partners the Story Garden and Story Harvest Station, as well as other ACAM projects that were prototyped throughout the summer. 


Written by Rose Wu