What is Chinatown Today?


To share Chinatown’s stories – past, present, and future.


Chinatown as a living community – a site of connection to heritage, and storying our collective futures.


We value visions of Chinatown’s futures built by and for our community.

Chinatown is a neighbourhood shaped by the activism of our communities, past and present. In the face of the continuing threats of gentrification and displacement, it’s  important that we share accounts of the historical activism that helped shape our community, and document the continuation of this legacy of activism in order to help build futures that serve our core community needs. 

We value stories as a form of education and a way of ensuring the sharing of knowledge.

Stories shape how we envision ourselves, our communities, and our futures. Stories are our way of sharing our relationships with place, and our relationships with each other. They help educate us, foster engagement in the issues that are important to our community, motivate activism and civic engagement, and ensure that the knowledge of our ancestors can be passed down to future generations. 

We value Chinatown as a place that cultivates relationships across cultures and generations.

Chinatown has served and continues to serve as home, refuge, and community for Chinese-Canadians, as well as for other marginalised communities and people of colour. Sharing history and relationships with Paueru Gai, Hogan’s Alley, and the Downtown Eastside more broadly, Chinatown continues to be a meeting point across cultures and generations.  Beyond and alongside settler history, the xwməθkwəyəm, Skxwú7mesh, and səlilwətaʔɬ nations hold relationships with the place we now call Chinatown. In sharing Chinatown’s stories, it’s important that we highlight the diversity of relationships in and with Chinatown; it’s vital that we help Chinatown continue to be a place that fosters these intercultural and intergenerational bonds.

We value Chinatown as a place of living history, and of tangible and intangible heritage.

As a living, cultural community, Chinatown is our inheritance from the generations that have come before us, through their activism, solidarity, and resilience. It’s vital that we preserve and document Chinatown’s heritage, both tangible and intangible, for the benefit of generations to come. Tangible heritage is embodied through Chinatown’s rich built environment, in the association buildings and businesses that serve as physical reminders of our history and place within society, of our community’s history and continuity, and of the people and experiences that have shaped Chinatown. The relationships and practices that make up our intangible heritage allow us to live the connections between community and history, and ensure the continuity of our culture for generations to come. Engaging with heritage, both tangible and intangible, ensures that we learn from our past to build a future that serves our community.

Indigenous Sovereignty Recognition

We acknowledge that this work is taking place on the ancestral, traditional, unceded and occupied Indigenous territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, and in particular, the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Tsəl̓ílwətaʔɬ /Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and Skwxwú7mesh Snichim speaking Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Nations. This land was never surrendered, relinquished, or handed over by these Nations to Canada or British Columbia through a treaty or other means; it is sovereign and unsurrendered.

A community older than the city it resides in, Vancouver is home to Canada’s largest historic Chinatown. This neighbourhood was home to early Chinese pioneers in the late 1800’s. Designated a Historic Site by the Province in 1971, a visit promises a photogenic look into the history of Vancouver’s Chinese Canadian community through its society buildings, commemorative murals and statues. This historic Vancouver neighbourhood also invites you to experience and engage in a distinct living heritage. With streets lined with traditional Chinese businesses, some over a hundred years old, the sounds of clacking mahjong tiles, laughter coming from lively clan houses and Chinese drumming as athletic clubs established in the early 1900’s practice lion dance, you get a chance to not only see history but live in it. So come and visit! Become a part of the community and the experience!

True to its cultural roots, Vancouver’s Chinatown is home to incredible authentic Chinese cuisine. With experienced chefs cooking and baking coveted traditional recipes that have been passed down for generations, your stomach will never go hungry! Chinese fish mongers ensure nothing but the freshest catch to appease the palate and markets are stocked with anything you need to make an authentic Chinese meal. In fact, many say Vancouver’s Chinatown serves some of the tastiest Chinese dishes found outside of Asia.

A neighbourhood also in a state of transition, you’ll additionally find an eclectic mix of new Chinese and non-Chinese businesses to enjoy. Authentic Chinese foods, a Classical Chinese garden are found side by side art galleries, museums, coffee shops galore among hidden alleyways and spaces that engage youth advocacy. It is this diverse combination of buoyant intangible characteristics, respect for heritage and new businesses that aims to draw intergenerational audiences – local seniors, youth, and tourists alike.

Chinatown Today reflects the intercultural and inter-generational aspirations of Chinatown- a discussion on what the space has been and what it will become.This platform bridges cultural and knowledge gaps that are critical to creating an inclusive and safe environment, to inspire solutions for respectful and informed community development and cohesion.

Chinatown Today chronicles the change, past and present, in Vancouver’s Chinatown through the lens of local businesses, people, shared experiences and passed on traditions. Chinatown Today uses found objects in Chinatown as a starting point through which we can study and explore opportunities and challenges in the neighbourhood. This is a not-for-profit project and a public platform to gather and share diverse perspectives and wisdom with the community.