Community·Asian Heritage Month

Montrealer Laura Luu embraces her own version of multiculturalism

Luu founded Local 88 at the start of the pandemic to help Montreal's Asian community unite and find solutions together. 

Luu founded a local group that highlights Asian businesses in the city

Laura Luu, founder of Local 88. (Jessica Wu/CBC)

Laura Luu has learned to see her identity in a whole new light.

"Before the pandemic, I thought I was just a Quebecer. During the pandemic, with all the hate incidents, I realized I was a Quebecer who was Asian, and that is very different."

In 2020, Luu noticed that, in addition to the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic, some Asian business owners in Montreal were dealing with incidents of racism and vandalism.

Those challenges inspired her to start Local 88, a Facebook group supporting restaurants and grocers that were suffering due to false associations with COVID-19.

"I'm a foodie and I really love Asian food. I was so scared that my favourite restaurants would close," she said. "That's why it was important for me to start Local 88, so that people can promote local gems." 

The group has grown to 13,000 followers and expanded to include all types of Montreal Asian businesses, from scrunchie-makers to paper flower artisans and massage therapists. 

To mark the start of Asian Heritage Month in Montreal, on May 1 Local 88 organized its first ever Majesthé Market to support local Asian entrepreneurs in collaboration with the restaurant Majesthé. (Jessica Wu/CBC )

While it started as a virtual space, Local 88 has recently expanded to include in-person events. It held the MajesThé Market on May 1 in collaboration with a restaurant by the same name, featuring a local dozen East and Southeast Asian artisans and food businesses and attracting over 1,000 visitors. 

For Luu, initiatives like Local 88 help the culturally diverse Asian community unite and find solutions together. It is in this diversity that Luu has also been able to carve out her own identity.

"I realize now that I can choose my own side and embrace my unique third choice, being a CanAsian (Asian Canadian)," she said.

"I am happy I will teach my kid this CanAsian identity and he's entitled to have his own version, too, because he is uniquely multicultural."

The MajesThé Market, which featured a dozen local East and Southeast Asian artisans and food businesses, took place on May 1 and attracted over 1,000 visitors. (Jessica Wu/CBC)

May is #AsianHeritageMonth and to celebrate, we've profiled Asian-Canadian businesses from across the country that are at the hearts of their communities. And for more Asian Heritage Month content, visit CBC Gem for a new collection of series, documentaries and films that honour the rich culture and talent of Asian-Canadians and follow the hashtag #ProudlyAsianCanadian on social media for more inspiring profiles. You can see profiles of other Montrealers here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rana Liu

Communications Officer

Rana Liu is a Communications Officer at CBC Quebec working in community engagement and outreach. She has previously worked in community development and education. She is looking for new ways to connect with underserved communities on the stories and issues that matter to them.

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