Conference Explores the Future of Chinatowns
Second Chinatown Conference in Edmonton brings together stakeholders to discuss different aspects of Chinatowns.
June 11 and 12 marked the second Chinatown Conference in Edmonton. Whereas the first conference in 2013 examined Edmonton’s Chinatown from the past to the future, the focus of the 2016 conference was the future of Chinatowns, not only in Edmonton but in other cities as well.
The aim of the conference was to bring together academics, researchers, students, youth, community stakeholders, business people, planners, consultants, and policy makers to interact and discuss all aspects of Chinatowns in Canada, the United States, and other parts of the world. Participants were given many opportunities to share and learn from each other about the most recent trends, concerns, and challenges, as well as the solutions adopted or being planned in and for Chinatowns. Also, it was a chance to exchange economic, societal, and cultural choices that influence Chinatown development in the long term.
The first day of the conference included plenary and concurrent sessions and the second day’s focus was facilitated group workshops. Throughout the conference, youth and young adults were part of the voice of the conference. In addition to perspectives from researchers, community advocates, planners, and youth, the conference provided an exploration of how to use technology to remain connected with each other for the purpose of sharing or collaborating in developing tools and resources beneficial for the preservation of Chinatowns.
The first morning session, Snapshots of North American Chinatowns posed the questions: in your Chinatown, what are the biggest challenges? What are you most proud of? Speakers from Vancouver, Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, Edmonton, Toronto, and Calgary provided a broad perspective of challenges faced by Chinatowns in North America. During the second morning sessions, attendees were invited to hear two different perspectives on transforming Chinatowns. Speakers from Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Victoria provided their perspective on social, economic, and cultural trends while the session on development strategy and planning had speakers from Edmonton, Vancouver, Chicago, and Calgary present their perspectives.
The Hon. Dr. Vivienne Poy was again a speaker at the 2016 conference and provided the Keynote Lunch Address and readings from her book Heroes and Gamblers. The first session after lunch was a film screening and discussion with filmmaker Yi Chen about Washington DC’s Chinatown.
The afternoon sessions’ focus was Tools for the Future. Speakers from Philadelphia, Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton provided insight into community, economic, and education. During Development: Opportunities and Inspirations, perspectives on activating Chinatowns through arts and culture and how cultural spaces can attract and engage new and diverse audiences to Chinatown were provided by speakers from Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto. Speakers from Edmonton, Vancouver, and Washington spoke about tools and technologies for storytelling.
Coffee breaks provided an opportunity to connect and share more information. The afternoon sessions on Building Relations themes were Working with our Neighbours, Inclusive Multicultural Design and Government, Civic Engagement, and Community Leadership.
The second day provided an opportunity to come up with recommendations and actions that participants can adapt to promote, enhance, and sustain their Chinatown through circle conversations that asked three questions: How has Chinatown shaped your personal life? How has Chinatown shaped your community life? Imagine the Chinatown of your dreams. How do we get there?
The Conference was live streamed, and recorded for viewing at a later date through the Chinese Benevolent Association: www.CBAedmonton.com.
Jayne lives in McCauley.