How do human rights issues of past and present affect people of Asian heritage living in Winnipeg?
Panellists Nour Ali, Jennifer Chen, Art Miki and Pamela Rebello share their diverse perspectives in a discussion this Sunday (May 28) moderated by Dr. Muni Mysore at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), organized in partnership with the Asian Heritage Society of Manitoba. (See panellist bios below.)
May 2017 marks the 15th anniversary of Asian Heritage Month, celebrated at the Museum with a free afternoon of discussion, film and cultural performances.
Manitoba filmmaker Aaron Floresco will introduce a special screening of Facing Injustice: The Relocation of Japanese Canadians to Manitoba and lead a discussion. The film explores how Japanese Canadians were forcibly removed from the West Coast in 1942 and forced to work as labourers on sugar beet farms in Manitoba, where many finally settled.
An Asian Fusion Showcase follows, featuring vibrant performances by talented local groups including the India School of Dance; Great Wall Performing Arts; Winnipeg Sikaran Arnis Academy; Hinode Taiko; Aboriginal School of Dance; Korean drummer Yeyoung Won; and Colours of Indonesia.
Asian Heritage Month events
Sunday, May 28
Panel discussion — 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Film screening — 1:15 p.m. to 2:15p.m.
Performances — 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights,
85 Israel Asper Way
In 2002, acting on a motion raised by Senator Vivienne Poy, the Government of Canada officially designated each May as Asian Heritage Month. In Manitoba, the Asian Heritage Society – consisting of representatives from the Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Indo-Chinese, Korean and Filipino communities – plan activities to share Asian culture. They have included Aboriginal performances to demonstrate their connection to Canada and respect for Indigenous peoples.
About the panellists
Nour Ali is the director of the refugee committee of the Kurdish Association of Manitoba. He was born in Syria in 1978 and started his activities as human right activist in 2001, for which he was arrested, imprisoned and tortured before escaping to refugee camps in China and Macao. Mr. Ali came to Canada as a refugee in 2012 with his wife and two children – who became the first refugees to Winnipeg after the conflict began. He has continued to support refugees through community outreach and youth programs, as well as newcomer orientation and speaking in schools about the Syrian refugee crisis. He works as a restoration technician and business owner.
Jennifer Yijie Chen is an editor at the Manitoba Chinese Tribune who has served on the boards of the Manitoba Chinese Women's Association and Family Dynamics, an organization dedicated to strengthening families and building healthy supportive communities. She was active in the University of Manitoba Graduate Students' Association and worked as comments editor for The Uniter, the University of Winnipeg newspaper. She has volunteered extensively in the community, including with the International Students' Orientation program, Folklorama, Chinese Moon Festival, Chinese Mother's Day and with the upcoming Canada Summer Games. From 2014 to 2016, she worked as a constituency assistant in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. Ms. Chen holds a Master's Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Manitoba.
Arthur Miki has had a distinguished career as an educator and community activist, dedicated to promoting positive race relations and increasing awareness of human rights issues in Canada. He served as vice-chairperson of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and currently acts as president of both the Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba and the Asian Heritage Society of Manitoba. Mr. Miki served as president of the National Association of Japanese Canadians from 1984 to 1992 and led negotiations to achieve a just redress settlement for Japanese Canadians interned during the Second World War. He is a recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of Manitoba. Mr. Miki was also a citizenship judge for Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Pamela Rebello is a teacher, arts educator and consultant who is the executive director and driving force behind the India School of Dance, Music & Theatre. She has served on several boards and commissions, including the Canada Council for Racial Equality in the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council and the Manitoba Intercultural Council. She has received numerous awards and honours, including the Order of Manitoba and lifetime achievement awards with both Dance Manitoba and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation – which has featured her life story this year as one of 150 stories for its "Our Canada" project. Ms. Rebello has a Master's degree in Cross-Cultural and International Education from the University of Manitoba and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management.