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Migrant society searching for a home

Fundraising gala could help Richmond become new base for non-profit to tell stories of coming to Canada
The varied ethnicities of the board of directors behind the non-profit Pacific Canada Heritage Centre — Museum of Migration (PCHC–MoM) Society illustrates its diversity. The society formed in 2011 to tell the stories of migrants to the Pacific coast, but it needs a home of its own and is hosting a glitzy, fundraising gala at the end of the month. Photo submitted

Every migrant to Canada has a story to tell — and a new society is searching for its first home so those tales can be told under one roof.

The non-profit Pacific Canada Heritage Centre — Museum of Migration (PCHC–MoM) Society formed in 2011 to reflect a broad spectrum of communities, in particular those of Asian heritage.

The society has been functioning as a “museum without walls” for five years, offering educational programs related to the history, culture, and the “living stories” of Asian and Aboriginal Canadians with partners across the country through a dedicated team of volunteers based in Metro Vancouver.

The society’s core mission is to establish a dedicated facility with a dual function as a heritage centre, where communities can transmit and share knowledge across generations, and as a museum, where the stories and heirlooms can come together.

The organization, which operates out of an office in Vancouver, has recently been offered space in Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver.

But, like any non-profit, it relies on fundraising efforts and, later this month, the society will host its inaugural, charity gala to help make that dream become a reality.

One of its directors, Richmondite George Ing, explained to the Richmond News the connection between Asian migrants and those of Aboriginal heritage.

“Aboriginals were obviously the first people here, but then the Chinese were brought in to work on the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 19th century,” said Ing.

“When the railway was finished, around 1858, (the Chinese) were to be shipped back to China, but it never really happened and many of them were abandoned in rural B.C.

“The First Nations people took pity on them and took them in. Relationships were developed and some marriages took place.

“The Aboriginal community had lots of land that wasn’t being used and they got the Chinese in to farm the land and the gardens.”

Fast-forwarding to present day, Ing told how someone noticed there were museums and societies for migration in New York and on the east coast, but none in the west.

That was until historian Brad Lee, UBC professor Henry Yu and Winnie Cheung started the PCHC–MoM in 2011.

“As well as people from the Aboriginal and Chinese communities, there are also Filipinos, East Indians and Indonesians,” added Ing.

“We want to bring everyone together and tell our stories. Everybody has a story to tell and we want to capture all those stories in one place. Everybody has come to Canada with a story.”

The society’s inaugural gala — titled “From Far and Wide” — takes place Saturday, Nov. 25, at 5:30pm at the River Rock Theatre. Tickets are $150 (price includes dinner buffet, entertainment and a lucky draw.

Tickets can be purchased online at eventbrite:

MC for the night is CBC comedian Ali Hassan, who was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award for Best Breakout Artist.