Monumental Reflections: The Chinatown Memorial at 20

Monumental Reflections: The Chinatown Memorial at 20

*Organized and submitted by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC and Chinatown Together*

When: Saturday, December 9 from 2 to 4pm (doors open at 1:30pm)
Where:Chinese Cultural Centre Exhibition Hall (555 Columbia Street)
Cost: Free!


Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Chinatown Memorial Monument with a special commemorative talk by sculptor Arthur Shu Ren Cheng (程樹人). Unveiled on November 2, 2003, this significant monument honors the sacrifices of Chinese Canadian railway workers and WWII soldiers. Situated at Chinatown Memorial Square, it stands as the sole monument of its kind in Canada, representing the rich history, contributions, and sacrifices of the Chinese Canadian community.

Arthur will delve into the story and process behind the creation of the monument, featuring his private archive. Following the talk, engage in a panel discussion with local Chinatown community members who played a crucial role in bringing this monument to life.

The talk and panel discussion will be offered in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Light refreshments will be served.

This event is co-hosted by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC (CCHSBC) and Chinatown Together.

About the Speaker:

Arthur Shu Ren Cheng (程樹人) is a Chinese Canadian painter and sculptor who was born in 1942 in Nanjing, China. He graduated from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1965, with a specialization in sculpture. In 1990, Arthur relocated to Canada, where he became widely recognized for his contributions to the local art scene, particularly in Vancouver’s Chinatown and Chemainus, BC.

One of Arthur’s most notable works is the Chinatown Memorial Monument (先僑紀念碑), a bronze sculpture that depicts a Chinese Canadian railway worker and WWII veteran, located at the Chinatown Memorial Square. This monument is the only one of its kind in Canada and stands as a symbol of the Chinese Canadian community’s history, and contributions. Arthur has also painted numerous outdoor murals in Vancouver’s Chinatown, honoring its rich history and the experiences of Chinese Canadians.

Before his move to Vancouver, Arthur served as the head of sculpture at the Shanghai Garden Design Institute. After settling in Canada, he became the Vice President of the Vancouver Chinese Artists Association and was a member of the China Artists Association. Additionally, he held advisory positions in the British International Biography Association.

Arthur’s artwork has garnered awards and recognition in both Canada and China. Some of his noteworthy pieces in Vancouver’s Chinatown include “Snapshots of History” (2010) on Carrall and Pender streets, the “Celebrating Spring Festival in Chinatown” mural at the Chinatown Plaza Mall, the “China Gate” (2005) sculpture located in front of the Chinese Cultural Centre, and the “Century Winds of Change” mural (2001).

About the Panelists:

Wendy Au

Wendy Au was the former Assistant City Manager and currently a member of the Vancouver Coastal Health’s Board of Directors. Wendy retired from the City of Vancouver in June of 2018 after 39 years with the City. She has always been a strong advocate of diversity and social justice, and her work at the City included providing leadership on Hastings Training Institute on Diversity, the Vancouver Agreement: an Intergovernmental initiative, City of Reconciliation and the recent formal apology to the Chinese community. Wendy has extensive experience working with governments as well as in the community, in particular, she has a long term working relationship in Strathcona and Chinatown neighbourhoods. She received the 2012 YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Non-Profit and Public Service and the Connecting the Community Award. In 2017, Au received the city manager’s City Service Award.

Fred Mah

For the last six decades, Fred Mah has been a respected BC leader. Through advocacy for water quality, anti-racism, heritage conservation, cultural celebration, community building, international trade and cultural exchange, Fred’s volunteer initiatives have had provincial, national and international impact.

Mah has helped found a number of different community organisations and trade delegations including the Vancouver-Guangzhou Friendship Society, the BC-Guangdong Business Council, the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver, the Vancouver International Dragon Boat Festival Society, the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC, the Friends of False Creek, and the Chinatown Society Heritage Buildings Association. He has chaired and/or sat on a number of organisational boards including those he helped found, as well as the committees that built the memorial statues and Shanghai Alley projects in Vancouver’s Chinatown, the housing committee of the Chinese Benevolent Association, Chinatown Visioning Committee for Chinatown Revitalisation (vice-president), the Vancouver Centennial Commission, Chinese Canadian Museum, and the Chinatown Legacies stewardship committee. It was also under Fred’s vision and leadership that guided the process that led to the federal designation of Vancouver’s Chinatown as a national heritage site in 2012, a crucial step in fulfilling his vision that Chinatowns should be recognised as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Since 2012, Fred has been honoured and recognised by various organisations for his tireless work in Chinatown and in the Chinese Community in Vancouver including the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012) City of Vancouver for the Vancouver Civic Merit Award (2013), the Chinese Canadian Historical Society (2013), and most recently the Order of BC (2022). (Source: Order of BC, Government of BC)

About Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia

The Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia is a non-profit, participatory provincial organization dedicated to broadening our shared understanding of history of the Chinese in British Columbia through research, documentation, preservation and education.

About Chinatown Together (華埠團結)

Chinatown Together aims to bring people together for Chinatown through inclusive and intergenerational public arts and cultural events rooted in the heart of Chinatown. Originating from Vancouver Chinatown’s anti-gentrification movement, our mission is to reclaim space and culture in the historic neighbourhood. We host a diversity of free community cultural events ranging from tea and paint gatherings to kung fu workshops and stand-up comedy – all with the goal of bringing the community in Chinatown together to advocate for Chinatown together. For more information and stay up-to-date with future events, visit:

COVID Safety Information

For the health and safety of all our community members (especially seniors, disabled and immunocompromised folks), we highly encourage you to wear a face mask (preferably KN95, KF94 or N95).

Accessibility Information

Transit: Chinatown is accessible by transit via skytrain. The closest skytrain station is Stadium-Chinatown.
Parking: The Chinatown Plaza Mall has a parkade one block away from the event venue, and street parking is also available closeby.