A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration and British Columbia
Hollywood Café staff on opening day, Prince Rupert, 1946. Prince Rupert Archives, JRW1125B. Photo: John R. Wrathall.

A Seat at the Table: Chinese Immigration and British Columbia

by Michael Turner

MUSEUM OF VANCOUVER, Vancouver BC - Opens Nov 19

This inventive, multi-venue exhibition highlights the importance of food and restaurant culture in the Chinese-Canadian immigrant experience. In addition to celebrating stories and visual materials, A Seat at the Table seeks to inspire a more diversified understanding of what it means to be British Columbian or Canadian. The show was co-curated by Denise Fong, a doctoral student in interdisciplinary studies at UBC; Viviane Gosselin, curator and director of collections and exhibitions at MOV; and Henry Yu, professor in the Department of History, UBC.

As much as this exhibition is rooted in traditional gallery display, featuring the work of emerging and practising visual artists and cultural producers, it functions equally as a place of collection and distribution. Visitors to the fi rst instalment at the Hon Hsing Athletic Club (site of the Chinese Canadian Museum project office) are encouraged to bring with them stories, images and objects relevant to their experiences as restaurant patrons and workers alike. Though mounted in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, A Seat at the Table is not limited to the histories of Vancouver’s Chinatown or Richmond’s Aberdeen Centre; it includes those from the province’s smaller, rural communities.

For the Museum of Vancouver instalment, the exhibition will, in the words of its curators, “showcase interactions between Chinese, other migrants and Indigenous communities. By featuring stories of connectivity and mobility that link Canada to the long history of Chinese diasporas, the project will continue to examine themes of belonging, racism, resilience and reparation as important facets of the complex experience of Chinese migrants and their descendants in British Columbia.” Both exhibition sites were designed by Goodweather Studio.


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