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Celebrate Asian Heritage Month with CBC Vancouver

Highlighting the rich heritage and contributions of Asian-Canadians in the community.

Highlighting the rich heritage and contributions of Asian-Canadians in the community

May is Asian Heritage Month, a time to acknowledge and celebrate the rich history of Asian-Canadians and their contributions to our country. 

To commemorate the occasion, CBC Vancouver is sharing profiles of amazing Asian-Canadians every week throughout the month of May to highlight those who are making meaningful contributions in the community. 

Check out our first profile feature, New Westminster's Young Suh, below! And for more Asian Heritage Month content, listen to our special series on The Early Edition, visit CBC Gem for a collection of series, documentaries and films that honour the culturally diverse and rich heritage of Asian-Canadians and follow the hashtag #ProudlyAsianCanadian on social media for more inspiring profiles. 

Young Suh, New Westminster

Master Young Suh, OMAC Taekwondo school owner, is pictured in New Westminster on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and my family immigrated to Canada in 1977.

I grew up in a small town in Southern Ontario which had a population of around 1,200 people. Being the only Asian family living there, we did get a lot of strange looks in the beginning. I got into a lot of fights during that time, being called "ch**k" and people giving me the slant eye. Being in grade 2, I was scared. My father told me, "if anyone is being racist towards you, fight them" so I did and consequently got sent to the principal's office a LOT. Every time my father met me at the principal's office he would ask me in Korean, "did you win?" and my answer was "yes." Eventually all the bullies accepted me and we became friends.

Today, as a martial arts business owner and instructor in the Lower Mainland, the youth that I teach inspire me. The youth of today, especially the ones I work with, are more compassionate, understanding, and overall have kinder souls than the past generations.

I love teaching youth and when my studio's taekwondo instructor contracted COVID in the fall of 2020, I saw it as an opportunity to do more of what I love. I don't see the point in harping on things in a negative way – it just brings the energy down. I just try my best to be a positive role model to our students and to be a productive member of society. 

What makes me proud is the acceptance that I've experienced living in Canada. As a Korean-Canadian who's been in Canada for 44 years, I've travelled all over the country, and while I experienced some racism as a child, overall people have been kind, generous and helpful. I see nothing but a good future for Canada.

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