Let’s all celebrate Asian Heritage Month


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This article was published 11/05/2021 (753 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

May is Asian Heritage Month — a month devoted to celebrating and acknowledging Asian heritage. Winnipeg is a culturally rich city with many Asian communities. In the Point Douglas ward alone, I am proud to share that 46 per cent of our residents identify as having Asian heritage.

It is an honour to represent such a diverse ward. I have been privileged to share in important moments and celebrations in our community. Whether it’s wearing red to ring in Lunar New Year in Chinatown, enjoying a Ramadan feast or celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights — sharing and learning through these festivities connects us.

This month we have an incredible opportunity to learn and understand more about Asian culture in our city. Education builds empathy and understanding. With the recent rise in Asian hate crimes the education and celebration of Asian heritage has never been more important.

Photo by Jen Doerksen / Winnipeg Free Press photo archives Members of the Magdaragat Philippines dance company perform at the Pearl of the Orient Philippine Pavilion at R.B. Russell School on opening night of Folklorama in 2017.

Growing up in the 1980s as a first-generation Asian Canadian, I didn’t want to acknowledge my heritage, I grew up wanting to assimilate into what I thought was ‘Canadian’ culture.

Now, with my own family, I approach my Asian heritage with a new perspective. I married my Filipino husband and have been completely embraced by the Filipino culture. Raising my own family of second-generation Asian Canadians, I want my kids to embrace and celebrate who they are, not hide it.

My kids feel no shame in who they are. They hear (and understand) Tagalog and Mandarin spoken daily in their home. When they bring leftovers for lunch at school, they aren’t bullied for eating ‘different’ food. It’s celebrated — lumpia is a hot commodity.

During pre-pandemic times, they enjoyed the large Filipino family gatherings overflowing with pancit, barbecue pork, caldereta and lumpia. They have the Filipino family experience of playing with all the cousins and Lolos and Lolas offering you plates and plates of more food, even though you are full.

My daughter participates in Magdagarat, and proudly performs at Folklorama. She enjoys our traditional music and dances in beautiful traditional Filipino costumes.

My kids celebrate their culture and are proud of it, it is part of our identity. We are Asian Canadians. As a parent, it means so much to me that they grow up connecting to their roots.

This month is not only for Asians to celebrate, it’s an invitation for us all to connect and share our stories.

We all matter. Our stories matter.

Healthy, vibrant and safe communities are built on empathy and understanding. This month is a great opportunity to educate ourselves to strengthen our bonds with our neighbours and build stronger communities.

I invite everyone to take some time to learn more about our Asian communities here in Winnipeg. My friend and community leader Jennifer Chen is leading a wonderful calendar of events with a variety of activities to highlight the remarkable contributions of Asian Canadians and will be facilitating ongoing discussion on anti-Asian racism issues all month long.

Please visit to learn more.

Let’s learn and celebrate together.

Vivian Santos

Vivian Santos
Point Douglas ward report

Vivian Santos is city councillor for Point Douglas.

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