INSTRCC at the Burnaby Village Museum Neighbourhood Speaker Series

The Burnaby Village Museum Neighbourhood Speaker Series showcases talks presented by local speakers that explore a range of historical and cultural topics. This year, INSTRCC students and team members were invited to give two talks about Chinese Canadian history in Burnaby. 

On October 20th, four UBC students and alumni gave the talk, “The fecundity of food and family: A natural niche for Chinese Canadians in Burnaby,” in which they shared their experiences as summer interns with the Burnaby Village Museum and debuted the virtual projects they produced. The team’s research this summer highlighted the role of Chinese Canadians in the restaurant, piggery, and farming industries. 

Debbie Liang and Joty Gill shared a snippet from their short film, “Scraps and Dragons,” while Rose Wu and Wei Yan Yeong introduced their three-part podcast series, “Back to the Roots”. Both teams shared their favourite historical tidbits from their research and some of the challenges and lessons learned from creating virtual content. The talk rounded out with reflections on the importance of sharing lived experiences as a way to create empathy, and the team’s personal accounts of the critical need to diversify the portrayal of Chinese Canadians in history and in education. In the following Q&A session, the team shared digital content creation tips including pointers for beginners interested in video and podcast production.

Watch the full recording of the students’ talk here

Podcasts & Videos:

Created by UBC students, graduates and alumni for 


On October 27th, INSTRCC Research Director, Denise Fong, gave the talk entitled, “Eating your way through Burnaby: A look at Chinese Canadian history through food,” in which she shared stories and archival photos of early Chinese Canadian immigrants to Burnaby. 

Denise began the talk detailing some of her work as a community-based researcher, which included conducting oral history interviews and curating the Across the Pacific Exhibition at the Burnaby Village Museum. She then highlighted her research on Chinese Canadian family-operated farms in 1960s Burnaby, including stories from the Jung family farm, Hop On Farm, and Tong Yip Farm. Additionally, Denise gave a preview of her work on Chinese Canadian greengrocers in Burnaby; in particular, delving into the story of Tommy Mo Yee Chu, founder of Tommy’s Market on Edmonds Street (still in operation today). She shared lighthearted anecdotes about Tommy and Betty Chu’s time running the store with their limited English capability, and recounted the social role these shops played as gathering spaces for neighbourhood children. 

In closing, Denise shared the challenges she faced in piecing together Chinese Canadian history, as these stories were rarely recorded in formal accounts. She highlighted the key role that community research played in her work and why it was important for her to build relationships with these families in order to share their stories in a meaningful way. 

Watch the full recording of Denise’s talk here


Written by Rose Wu