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ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH

 

Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, I rise today to draw attention to the beginning of Asian Heritage Month. During the month of May, Canadians join together from coast to coast to celebrate the long and rich history of Asian Canadians. This month provides an opportunity for all Canadians to experience many cultures and celebrate the contributions of our Asian citizens to the growth and prosperity of Canada.

In December 2001, the Honourable Senator Poy introduced a motion in this chamber to designate May as Asian Heritage Month. Six months later, in May 2002, the Government of Canada officially recognized Asian Heritage Month.

Two years after the launch of Asian Heritage Month festivities in Vancouver, British Columbia, I still remember Senator Poy's eloquent speech at an explorASIAN gala event presented by the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society in partnership with the Korean community.

Asian Heritage Month events across Canada during the month of May celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Asian Canadians while promoting cultural harmony and community diversity.

One such notable Canadian of Asian heritage is an extraordinary woman, Jin-me Yoon, a Vancouver-based world-renowned artist who, through her evocative photography and video installations, challenges the viewer to question what constitutes Canadian identity. We are "soul sisters," both born in Seoul, Korea as eldest daughters to immigrant parents who arrived in Canada with hopes of a better life for their children. We are proud daughters of two great nations.

More than three decades after being my favourite Sunday school teacher, who included the best arts and crafts in her lessons, it is no surprise that Jin-me Yoon is a respected professor of contemporary arts and visual arts at Simon Fraser University, inspiring many budding artists to find their own voice as Canadians.

Jin-me Yoon was nominated recently for the Art Gallery of Ontario's prestigious Grange Prize. Each year, the Grange Prize recognizes the work of two Canadians and two international contemporary photographers, awarding $50,000 to one winner chosen through an international online public vote.

Honourable senators, I encourage you to visit the site, www.thegrangeprize.com, and cast your vote by May 20. I invite each honourable senator to take time this month to participate in one or more of the many festivals taking place across the country in honour of Asian Heritage Month.

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