Public art monument proposed for local park to celebrate Chinese contributions in Vancouver's history

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      Tonight, NPA park commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung will ask the board to accept funding from a group wanting to honour Chinese pioneers who helped build the city.

      The Chinese Immigrant Charity Reconciliation Monument Committee hopes to do this by funding a public art monument in a city park.

      It would recognize Chinese Canadians who've contributed to the "history, fabric, success and diversity" of Vancouver.

      Kirby-Yung's motion points out that the park board "values and celebrates public art in parks and the richness and joy it adds to our spaces".

      "This commitment has been demonstrated through the successful partnership with Vancouver Biennale, acceptance of a monument to recognize Irish Canadians that will be placed in George Wainborn Park, and the installation of the Survivors Pole in Pigeon Park honouring our Indigenous peoples," the motion states.

      There is also a monument in Stanley Park for the 329 people who perished on Air India Flight 182, which was the world's worst case of aviation terrorism prior to 9/11.

      The Air India Memorial in Stanley Park honours those who lost their lives when a bomb exploded on a plane near the coast of Ireland.
      Charlie Smith

      Kirby-Yung's motion directs staff to work with the Chinese Immigrant Charity Reconciliation Monument Committee on the design of the public art, as well as options on where it might go. 

      If the board votes in favour, staff would "complete the normal public consultation process that accompanies a gift and art installation of this nature", according to the motion.

      The NPA commissioner is hoping that the final siting and design recommendations could be brought back for approval "as soon as practicably possible" to support reconciliation work that's already underway.

      On April 22, Mayor Gregor Robertson will issue a formal apology on behalf of the City of Vancouver at Chinatown Culture Day.

      It will also be delivered in Chinese languages by former city councillors Bill Yee and Maggie Ip.

      These were two of the recommendations of the historical discrimination against Chinese people advisory group, which were approved by council in November. (For a detailed account of discriminatory acts perpetrated against Chinese Canadians by the City of Vancouver, read this article.)

      Kirby-Yung's motion notes that another recommendation from the advisory group was to strengthen relations with Chinese Canadians through legacy actions confirming the values of a just and inclusive community.

      Mayor Gregor Robertson will deliver a formal apology on behalf of the city on April 22, which is nearly eight years after a similar apology was issued by the City of New Westminster.
      Charlie Smith

      New Westminster was the first city in B.C. to formally apologize for discriminating against Chinese people.

      It was delivered in 2010 by then mayor Wayne Wright after a thorough review of city records from 1860 to 1926.

      The was welcomed by Bill Chu, chair of the Canadians for Reconciliation Society, who led the campaign for the apology.

      But another activist, Sid Chow Tan, questioned why the City of New Westminster didn't also research Chinese-language accounts of discrimination, which were covered in Chinese newspapers of the era.