(Above: Carl Van Vechten’s photographic portrait of Anna May Wong, considered to be the first Chinese American Hollywood movie star) – May is a month for celebrating the many cultural and societal contributions and achievements of overseas Asian communities in North America. It marks the observance of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the United States, and Asian Heritage Month in Canada.

The commemorative month for Asian American and Pacific Islanders originated first as a Heritage Week with the US Congress in 1977, and was officially designated as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992. May was chosen to mark the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States in May, 1843, as well as to celebrate the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in May 1869. Most of the tracks were laid by young Asian men recruited as contract laborers from Southern China.

Asian Heritage Month, as it is known in Canada, was officially declared in May 2002 to honor Asian Canadian’s contribution to Canadian culture and history. Similarly, it was also the building of the railways, that first brought large numbers of young Asian men to Western Canada from 1880 from China and Taiwan.

Asian Heritage month is about honoring past generations of Asian immigrants that came before us. It is also about highlighting the richness of Asian cultures and traditions, but perhaps most importantly, it is about celebrating the Asian-American or Asian-Canadian experiences, and honoring the legacy and contributions of Americans and Canadians of Asian descend.

 

Here are some ways you can also celebrate Asian Heritage Month in your community:

  • Read about famous Asian Americans, including Amar Bose, chairman and founder of Bose Corporation; Perry Chen, founder and CEO of Kickstarter; and David Chang, founder of the Momofuku restaurant group, among others. You can also learn more about Noteworthy Historical Asian Canadians, including the much love Sandra Oh and David Suzuki.
  • Watch Crazy Rich Asians with an Asian friend and try to appreciate this experience through their eyes.
  • Catch couple episodes of ‘Fresh Off the Boat” a comedy series about a Taiwanese immigrant family in the 90’s, and “Kim’s Convenience” about a Korean Canadian family who run a convenience store in Toronto. Kim’s Convenience is the first Canadian sitcom to feature Asian Canadian family members as lead characters.
  • Check out “20 BEST THINGS ABOUT BEING ASIAN” by Fung Bros for some laughs
  • Go to a local Asian Heritage Month event this May that celebrates a different Asian culture than one that you are familiar with. Visit a Buddhist shrine, a Sikh temple, a mosque, or an ethnic church to learn about the diverse Asian communities and their values and believes.
  • Learn to cook Asian cuisine with a friend using unfamiliar ingredients. Check out blogs such as www.justonecookbook.com by Namiko Hirasawa Chen, and www.cookwithmanali.com by Manali.
  • Pick up a book by these amazing Asian American and Asian Canadian authors.
  • If you happen to be in NYC check out the American Asian Latino Film Festival NYC, on from May 17th to 23rd, 2019. The lovely Jackie Dallas, creator of PROUD (www.ProudShortFilm.asia) will be there for the screening of her new films! PROUD is about an Asian American woman who learns to embrace her ethnic heritage while trying to discover her identity as an American.
  • And finally, we hope you’ll share your Asian Heritage story on a .Asia domain. .Asia is the designated web address for Asia and Asian communities worldwide. Come hangout with us on Facebook and Twitter this May to celebrate the unique narratives and rich traditions of Asian-American and Asian-Canadians communities.

And feel free to download and share the .Asia Asian Pacific American Heritage Month badge below!

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