Performers, politicians and the public filled Richmond's King George Park at a festive meet-and-greet opportunity highlighting municipal candidates from across Greater Vancouver last Sunday.
The Richmond-based group Chinese-Canadian GotoVote (CCGTV) organized the Summer Concert in the Park event to encourage Chinese-Canadians to be more politically involved in the upcoming municipal elections this fall.
The event kicked off with Richmond-Queensborough MLA Aman Singh and Port-Moody Coquitlam MP Bonita Zarrillo each making a speech at the opening ceremony.
Around 30 municipal election candidates running for city councils across Greater Vancouver were introduced on stage to event attendees.
Event attendee and vendor, Jessica Cao, a North Surrey resident, said she came out to support the organization when she heard they were trying to encourage more Asian community members to vote.
Many people in the Chinese communities don't "get involved in anything politics-related" because they are either not familiar with the system or just "scared" of politics in general, explained Cao.
"I know one of the reasons is because many are still only permanent residents and can't vote, but because we get a lot from the community and society, we need to see what we can do to give back even if it is just to share the word."
Cao told the Richmond News that the culture in China doesn't provide "much opportunity to express ourselves."
"(Canada) gives us the right to voice our opinions so we should use the opportunity to do so. For all the Chinese-Canadians, if you have the right to vote you need to come out to vote. If you don't, you're wasting your rights."
May Lao, a local resident, said she was in the area with her daughter and stumbled across the event.
"We saw the tents and heard the music, so we decided to check it out," said Lao.
"It's interesting to see an event like this taking place, and I'm quite happy to know there is an organization trying to encourage more (Chinese-Canadians) people to come out and vote. Voting is important, and it is something Chinese-Canadians should do if they are eligible."
Ivan Pak is the executive director of Goto Vote. Pak ran for the Richmond Board of Education with the "Parents' Slate" in 2018. He also ran as a People's Party of Canada candidate in Richmond Centre in the 2019 federal election.
As well, Pak has also been involved in organizing anti-Asian hate rallies in the community.
-with files from Maria Rantanen