Recognition, Resilience, and Resolve

Asian Heritage Month in Canada is a time of year to highlight the Pan-Asian diversity of cultures and peoples and recognize the extraordinary contributions that communities of Asian descent in Canada have made and continue to make to our country.

It is also an opportunity to raise awareness of the on-going challenges faced by Asian communities across Canada and to confront and denounce anti-Asian racism and discrimination in all its forms.

This year’s theme, Recognition, Resilience, and Resolve, embodies the many contributions peoples of Asian descent in Canada have made. It also recognizes and celebrates communities of Asian descent in Canada, their experiences, and stories which are rooted in resilience and perseverance.

During Asian Heritage Month, Parks Canada wants to honour the memory of Canadians of Asian descent by remembering the stories of remarkable individuals and events, sometimes tragic, sometimes glorious, that have redefined our places and heritage.

Asahi baseball team National Historic Event

Asahi's athletic and sportsmanlike performances inspired spectators of all origins

Black and white photo of Asahi baseball team
Asahi baseball team © Nikkei National Museum

Between 1914 and 1941, at a time when Japanese Canadians faced racism, Vancouver's Asahi Baseball Team thrilled fans by winning championships in senior amateur leagues. Its signature offensive strategy, "brain ball," emphasized bunting and speed on the bases, reflected the values of discipline and teamwork, and, coupled with a sparkling defence, levelled the playing field with more powerful opponents. The Asahi became a symbol of the Japanese-Canadian struggle for equality and respect, and despite being disbanded during the Second World War internment, left a legacy of inspiration for future generations.

Watch the Vancouver Asahi Heritage Minute video on Historica Canada’s YouTube channel

D'Arcy Island Leprosarium

D'Arcy Island's beauty contradicts its past history

Black and white photo of men on a beach with barrels, boxes and other supplies being delivered.
D’Arcy Island © British Columbia Museum

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, D’Arcy Island, now part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, was part of a dark episode in Canadian history. Beginning in 1891, a small group of people afflicted with leprosy from the City of Victoria’s Chinese community were exiled to D'Arcy Island to limit the spread of the disease. Those on the island received food, but no medical care. Their only contact with the outside world was a supply ship that moored four times a year to bring goods to the island. Thirteen men died on D’Arcy Island during this period, while others were relocated or repatriated.

Today, nature has reclaimed the island, making it a beautiful destination for kayakers and boaters, but an interpretive plaque, old orchard and building ruins are a reminder of this tragic chapter in Canadian history.

Frank Wong’s battle after the war

In hopes for the right to vote

Frank Wong in front of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
Frank Wong © Veterans Affairs Canada

Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site highlights the inspiring story of Frank Wong, a Chinese-Canadian soldier, who volunteered to serve in the Second World War for two reasons: One, his love of Canada, and two, the hopes that serving might help Chinese-Canadians one day have the right to vote.

Upon his return to Canada, Frank and many other Chinese-Canadian veterans campaigned for the right to vote. This was finally granted in 1947, although immigration from China continued to be severely restricted until 1967. Frank would say later in his life that his time in the military was the least discrimination he ever faced. He later became one of the founders of the Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society, which collected the stories of these often overlooked veterans and preserved an important part of Canadian history. He returned to the Netherlands in 2003 and was awarded a medal for his participation in the liberation of the Netherlands.

Learn more about Frank Wong

Abbotsford Gur Sikh Temple

Seedling of a community

Outside view of Abbotsford Sikh Temple with its white façade and blue staircase
Abbotsford Gur Sikh Temple © Jacob Simmonds

In 1911, determined Sikh pioneers from India built this temple, or Gurdwara, with lumber carried from the nearby sawmill where many of them worked. Blending traditional Sikh and western frontier designs, the temple includes a prayer hall and a community kitchen. Not only a place of worship, it also became a centre for the social and political life of South Asian immigrants, helping them forge a vibrant community. Today, this oldest surviving Gurdwara reminds us of the immigrant experience of Sikhs in Canada, and continues to be a sacred symbol of their spirituality.

Learn more about Abbotsford Sikh Temple National Historic Site

Additional resources: Asian history and culture in Canada