Celebrate Asian Heritage Month

Celebrate Asian Heritage Month with CBC Ottawa. Throughout May, we'll be sharing stories of Asian Canadians in the community and providing a list of resources to help you mark this important occasion.

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. 

Throughout the month, CBC Ottawa will share the stories of Asian-Canadians in the community. We'll also provide resources to help you learn more about Asian-Canadians and ways to mark this special occasion.

Virtual events to attend

Panel: We Rise Together: Stopping Anti-Asian Racism | May 13, 2021 @ 5:30 p.m. 
Carleton University's We Rise Together: Stopping Anti-Asian Racism forum will feature leaders in the Asian-Canadian community discussing the disturbing rise of anti-Asian racism in Canada and abroad over the past year. CBC Ottawa's Falice Chin, Executive Producer of News will be a featured panellist.

Ottawa Public Library Event: Japanese Cooking Class | May 20, 2021 @ 7 p.m.
In celebration of Asian Heritage Month, the Ottawa Public Library presents a traditional Japanese cooking class. Adults can look forward to a live demonstration of Japanese cooking and test out their cooking skills. Learn how to make a vegetarian salad roll and a teriyaki chicken roll.

Ottawa Public Library Event: Draw my life in Uzbekistan | May 27, 2021 @ 7 p.m.
Join artist Kseniya who will take you on a journey of her life in Uzbekistan through drawings and commentary.

Ottawa Public Library Event: Bollywood Dance | May 29, 2021 @ 3 p.m
Come join dance instructor Kuljit Sodhi for a family-style dance class where you'll learn the basic movements of the popular Indian dance styles from Bollywood musical films. Kuljit will be teaching Bhangra (folk dance), Dhandia (stick dance) and Bollywood dancing.

CelebrAsian Dance: An interactive virtual evening of dance entertainment, instruction and conversation | May 30, 2021 @ 7 p.m.
The Autumn Melody Collective is hosting a virtual Asian dance program as part of the Ottawa Asian Heritage Month celebrations. Professional dance artists featured include the award-winning South Korean dancer Yeonji Hong, Kathak dancer Deepti Gupta and Chinese operatic dancer William Lau.

Books to read

The Ottawa Public Library staff has curated series of Asian Heritage Month book lists for kidsteens and adults. Here are some of their top picks:

Books for adults

  1. I am Asian: 50 people. 50 stories, by multiple authors
    The library description: Fifty stories told by Asian people on what it feels like to be Asian, primarily in the U.S., but also in Canada, Australia and several other countries around the world. In the stories about their lives, they discuss racism and COVID-19, growing up in a cult, coming out as gay, refugee experiences, depression and trauma, self-love and inspiration. Read more.
  2. We Two Alone, by Jack Wang
    The library description: Set on three continents and spanning nearly a century, We Two Alone traces the long arc and evolution of the Chinese immigrant experience. A young laundry boy risks his life to play organized hockey in Canada in the 1920s. A Canadian couple gets caught in the outbreak of violence in Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Consul General of China attempts to save lives following Kristallnacht in Vienna. An actor in New York struggles to keep his career alive while yearning to reconcile with his estranged wife. From the poor and disenfranchised to the educated and elite, the characters in this extraordinary collection embody the diversity of the diaspora at key moments in history and in contemporary times. Read more.
  3. One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, by Scaachi Koul
    The library description: A debut collection of essays about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada, 'a land of ice and casual racism,' addressing sexism, cultural stereotypes and the universal miseries of life by the irreverent, hilarious and incomparable rising star and cultural observer, Scaachi Koul. Read more.

Books for teens

  1. The Silence of Bones, by June Hur
    The library description: In Joseon Dynasty-era Korea, sixteen-year-old Seol, an indentured servant within the police bureau, becomes entangled in a politically-charged investigation into the murder of a noblewoman. Read more.
  2. Bamboo People, by Mitali Perkins
    The library description: Two Burmese boys, one a Karenni refugee and the other the son of an imprisoned Burmese doctor, meet in the jungle and in order to survive they must learn to trust each other. Read more.
  3. Butterfly Yellow, by Thanhha Lai
    The library description: A Vietnam War refugee in Texas partners with a city boy with rodeo dreams to track down the younger brother she was separated from six years before when he was evacuated by American troops during the waning days of the Vietnam War. Read more.

Books for kids

  1. An Ocean Apart: The Gold Mountain Diary of Chin Mei-lingby Gillian Chan
    The library description: In 1922, in the Chinatown district of Vancouver, British Columbia, twelve-year-old Chin Mei Ling and her father work several jobs to save money for the "Head Tax" that will allow her mother and baby brother to immigrate from China. Read more

  2. Big Red Lollipopby Rukhsana Khan
    The library description: Having to take her younger sister along the first time she is invited to a birthday party spoils Rubina's fun, and later when that sister is asked to a party and baby sister wants to come, Rubina must decide whether to help. Read more.

  3. Nina Soni, Sister Fixer, by Kashmira Sheth
    The library description: The second title in a humorous series featuring a charming, distractible Indian-American girl and her family and friends. A long rainy stretch during spring break has Nina restless and hungry for a new project and aggravated with little sister Kavita's embarrassing behavior. A fresh pile of dirt just delivered to the neighbor's house for a landscaping project ends up being too tempting to resist. Can Nina fix Kavita and create something amazing at the same time? With her sister's help, Nina launches a grand engineering project with unexpected consequences.

Films and TV series to watch

From filmmaker Alice Gu (Epiphany, And Two If by Sea: The Hobgood Brothers), The Donut King documents the rise and fall of a Cambodian refugee who escaped genocide and overcame poverty to build a life for himself — by baking the U.S.'s favourite pastry and building an unlikely empire of donut shops. (The Donut King)

Celebrate with this collection that honours the culturally diverse and rich heritage of Canadians of Asian origin, streaming now on CBC Gem:

  • Bad Rap (Documentary) 
    From filmmaker Salima Koroma (Dreamland: The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street, That's Amazing) and starring Awkwafina (The Farewell, Crazy Rich Asians), Bad Rap documents four Asian-American rappers who run into tough obstacles as they try to make it big in hip-hop, a genre rooted in black culture.

  • Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. (Documentary) 
    Drawn from a cache of personal video recordings from the past 22 years, director Steve Loveridge's Sundance award-winning Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. is a startlingly personal profile of the critically acclaimed artist, chronicling her remarkable journey from refugee immigrant to pop star.

  • Indian Space Dreams (Documentary) | *Canadian exclusive premiere*
    From filmmaker Sue Sudbury (Hunger by the Sea, Village Tales), Indian Space Dreams is a documentary that has won multiple awards and grants extraordinary insight into contemporary India as it follows space scientists in Mumbai that prepare to launch the country's first astronomical satellite on a fraction of NASA's budget.

  • The Donut King (Documentary) | *Exclusive Canadian premiere*
    From filmmaker Alice Gu (Epiphany, And Two If by Sea: The Hobgood Brothers), The Donut King documents the rise and fall of a Cambodian refugee who escaped genocide and overcame poverty to build a life for himself — by baking the U.S.'s favourite pastry and building an unlikely empire of donut shops.

  • Palisa Anderson's Water Heart Food (lifestyle series) | *Canadian exclusive premiere*
    Respected cook, farmer, writer, entrepreneur, mother and member of a family business to a beloved restaurant chain, Chat Thai, Palisa Anderson is many things to many people. But ask her what connects her heart to it all, and she will simply reply "real, good food." From her farm in Byron Bay in the southeastern Australian state of New South Wales and its neighbouring salty enclaves, to the big smoke of Sydney and some of the city's best chefs, restaurants and out of town destinations, Anderson's Water Heart Food series sees her share a very intimate exchange with some of her favourite food industry icons and rising stars, exploring where their passion comes from and sharing food stories to discover we have more in common than we think.

  • Lost & Found (Documentary)
    On March 11, 2011, Japan was hit by the largest earthquake in its recorded history. The ensuing tsunami engulfed over 90 cities, killing more than 18,000 people, and causing millions of tons of debris to be pulled into the Pacific. One year later, beachcombers in North America began to find Japanese items washed ashore. Consumed with finding their owners, these beachcombers packed their bags and traveled to Japan in hopes of reuniting people with a small piece of their past. Lost & Found tells the story of the unlikely friendships that were forged in the wake of a massive natural disaster.

More on CBC Listen:

Full series hosted by Asian-identified hosts/subjects:

Episode highlights (Asian guests and topics):

Radio show podcasts:


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