Chinatown House offers free tech education with the Community Digital Lab

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      In the very near future, technology will touch every aspect of our lives. Having the skills to navigate and participate in that world will be crucial—but access to teaching remains a barrier to many.

      Chinatown House is stepping in to fill that void. A cultural centre that aims to build a community in the district that is vibrant, culturally sustainable, and easily accessible, the 188 East Pender Street building is the brainchild of an alliance of entrepreneurs, urban designers, cultural curators, and nonprofit organizations. Its latest venture puts the talents of each to work.

      This summer, technology-curious individuals of all ages are invited to Chinatown House’s Community Digital Lab. Launched with the support of Microsoft and the Vancouver Computer Graphics Society (VCGA), the instructional sessions offer free programming, workshops, and mentor-led labs in July and August for people of all ages in the Downtown Eastside.

      “Technology is such a huge part of our society today, and it is up to organizations such as ourselves to offer programming to those who are interested but may not otherwise have the means to access it,” says Minna Van, executive director of Chinatown House. “I’m proud of the team for helping this dream come to fruition. Part of the proceeds to get this up and running came from our Ca Phe Vietnamese Coffee House pop-up. I hope the courses, workshops, and lab time really invigorate the community to go after their own interest in tech.”

      The Lab will offer a hands-on approach, encouraging kids, youth, and adults to work with mentors of all ages on creative and exploratory projects. Attendees will be able to use leading-edge software to create their own artwork, simulations, multimedia presentations, virtual worlds, and music, with informal instruction offered in each area. Its organizers hope that it will provide individuals with a greater understanding of tech.

      “We are excited to cultivate this digital community through a culturally diverse team of professional mentors from industry to help bring new project ideas to Community Digital Lab,” says Nick Romick, president of VCGA. “We see the importance of tapping into the VFX powerhouse we have in Vancouver. For kids and youths who may have never talked to a professional who has made the movies or games they have seen or play, this opportunity may be a pivotal experience.”


      Kids programs include:

      Code Own Video Game with MakeCode Arcade

      Make Your Own Movies with 3D and Mixed Reality

      STEM Workshop: Soccer Celebration


      Youth and adult programs include:

      A six-part workshop series to help participants learn the tools to achieve more with their job searches. Skills will include understanding and using how to best use Microsoft Office tools, which can be used both professionally and at home.

      During lab hours, people can work with mentors in a variety of different topics in technology, such as gaming, film, virtual reality, and augmented reality.


      Chinatown House is currently giving organizations such as Exchange Inner City and groups in the Downtown Eastside priority in registering for workshops before July 1, 2019.

      Further details about each workshop can be found here. Interested participants can email for more information and to register.

      Kate Wilson is the Technology Editor at the Georgia Straight. Follow her on Twitter @KateWilsonSays