A non-profit group is trying to engage Chinese-Canadians to be more politically involved – especially in anticipation of the fall municipal elections.
To start, they’ve organized a concert and meet-and-greet with politicians on Aug. 21 at King George Park.
Already, 30 candidates from across the Lower Mainland have confirmed they will be there, according to the Richmond-based group Chinese-Canadian Goto Vote (CCGTV) that’s organizing the event.
Two politicians were at an event Thursday to promote Goto Vote’s municipal election information campaign – Michael Lee, BC Liberal MLA for Vancouver-Langara, and Alexa Loo, Richmond city councillor, who was there in her capacity as acting mayor. Both come from families who originated from China and spoke to the need to vote and get involved politically.
Loo pointed out, although her grandmother was born in Edmonton, because she was ethnically Chinese, she couldn’t vote until 1947 when she was 37.
Chinese-Canadians now, however, have the opportunity to have “a space at the table,” Loo said.
“This is our chance to learn about the democratic process, to be involved in the democratic process and to have a voice and have our voice heard,” she added. “This is really important for all of us, to not be treated like second-class citizens like my grandparents were.”
Raising awareness about elections and politics is nothing new for Lee.
Already in 1986, he was involved as a university student in a get-out-the-vote campaign in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
He said that’s why he has supported the Richmond-based Goto Vote, which is also trying to get Chinese-Canadians involved in the democratic process, for example, in the last federal election.
“The work that (Goto Vote) did during the federal election was very important – it helped to educate new residents and Canadians of Chinese descent about the importance of voting in that federal election,” Lee said.
“Here now of course we have another opportunity to participate in the voting process with the municipal elections,” he added.
Goto Vote has also been involved in combatting anti-Asian hate and racism.
Lee pointed out this is an important reason to be involved in the municipal elections, especially as racism has risen during the pandemic. But there are also many other local issues that local politicians make decisions on, he added.
“(It) makes a difference on the determination around investments in the community, like community centres and parks, the education of your children, safety on the streets, support programs for seniors and elderly parents and grandparents, transportation issues, housing issues as we need to create more supply,” Lee said.
He pointed out these are just some of the issues “why it’s important to be involved in the political process.”
The executive director of the non-profit is Ivan Pak, who has run for Richmond Board of Education in the past, and ran in the 2019 federal election as the People's Party of Canada candidate in Richmond Centre.
Summer Concert in the Park takes place Sunday, Aug. 21 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the baseball field at King George Park, 12800 Cambie Rd. There will be music and booths for candidates to present their election platform.