Our Work

We organized a three day Community Reading Festival in October 2017. Events included readings from an anthology of stories of immigrant women in Canada, presentation of the ‘Elder Stories’ project, readings from a book based in Shanghai by a Culture Chats member, an intercultural story time event for children and parents as well as a word games sessiion to mark Canada at 150. An introductory workshop session on erasure poetry based on local literature was also very well received. Details are available in the ‘Past Events’ section on our Events Page.

Culture Chats BC Association was launched in 2015 with the support of the Burnaby Public Library and the Vancouver Foundation. In this event we invited two prominent local writers/activists for a talk and a dialogue on the theme of migration and culture.

Our first initiative was to start a multicultural book club at our local library using a small neighbourhood grant. Culture Chats currently continues to facilitate book clubs at two locations of the Burnaby Public Library. We meet monthly to read and discuss world authors. The book clubs engage local community members in lively discussions, sharing of personal experiences, and developing intercultural connections.

In 2016 we organized few arts workshops for preschool children based on festivals from diverse cultures. We also offered a creative writing workshop and participants were invited to develop their stories about the opportunities and challenges of straddling new cultures. Please see small excerpts below from participants at the workshop

“ How are you doing? “ : My shopping experience

The first time I went shopping with my partner in Vancouver was a very unfamiliar experience. The saleswoman came see us and asked “How are you doing? “. I looked at my partner, surprised. How are you doing?!!  I realized that my English was academicl and probably more British than American. Never had I learnt to use the phrase “How are you doing?” at school. I should probably have watched more American TV series before moving to Canada

Then each time we pass the door of a store, the salesperson was in a rush to ask us how we are doing. I must say it is unfamiliar to European people – at least for the French and the Italian- to receive much attention from someone we don’t know at all. Do they really care how we are doing? Are they listening to our response? Isn’t it too much?

I do understand now why French people can be perceived as rude by Canadian people traveling to France. But I must say it is also difficult for me to see my plate taken away in restaurant as soon as I have swallowed my last bite. In some cultures such as mine, this could be perceived as rude.

I’m a banana– you know, yellow on the outside but white on the inside. It’s a phrase that I have used time and again to describe me.
It says a lot yet, so little about me.

I barely speak Cantonese and what I know, can barely get me through in Hong Kong (they would say that I have a “North American” accent). I don’t know the history of my ancestors unless you count generalities such as the invention of paper and fireworks. I could not even begin to tell you what are their concerns – is it the same as mine? Do they have the same concerns about the world? Where is it headed? Do they even care?

Have they even heard of Vancouver? What would they think of our corner of the world (if they ever come)? What would they think of me and how I have become Canadian?

Our Well Wishers

Culture Chats Book Club is an open-minded group of book lovers who also seem to love exploring culture, anyone’s culture, represented in books from a variety of national settings. I have by and large liked the books presented for us. Discussions at the book club meeting provides insights into the authors’ works one might not have experienced oneself, but also help you to get to know the other participants better, and make new friends.

April Goodman
Book club member

What you are contributing is great. I really think there has been and will be an increased demand for cultural activities in Vancouver. We are welcoming more and more immigrants every year and Cutture Chats is a great way to develop ties between different cultures and backgrounds.

Karine Morcet
Writing Workshop Participant