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Refugee panel, cultural showcase for Asian Heritage Month

News release details

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) and the Asian Heritage Society of Manitoba today host a panel on Asian-Canadian refugee experiences and an evening of cultural performances in honour of Asian Heritage Month.

At 3:30 p.m. this afternoon, refugees from Syria, Malaysia and Vietnam will participate in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Muni Mysore in the Museum's interior Garden of Contemplation, included in general admission fees. (See attached biographies).

Free performances of the Asian Fusion Showcase begin at 7 p.m. in Bonnie & John Buhler Hall, with greetings from Museum president & CEO John Young and Asian Heritage Society president Art Miki. Visitors are invited to arrive early and explore the Museum galleries, which are open until 9 p.m. today (regular admission fees apply to gallery access).

Performers include Chinese drummer Phoebe Man; Sikaran Arnis Academy (Filipino marital arts); JCAM Koto ensemble (unique Japanese instruments); Aboriginal School of Dance; Manitoba Great Wall Performing Arts Inc. (Chinese-Canadian performers); India School of Dance (Indo-Canadian dancers); Aurora Odori (Japanese-Canadian dancers); Hinode Taiko (Japanese-Canadian drummers).

What: Asian Heritage Month panel and cultural performances

When: Wednesday, May 11, 2016, 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Where: CMHR, 85 Israel Asper Way, Winnipeg

The CMHR is also publishing a series of blogs this month featuring interviews with prominent Asian Canadians, including Art Miki, who was instrumental in winning redress for the Japanese-Canadian community: Senator Vivienne Poy; environmental activist and scientist David Suzuki; CTV television personality and blogger Elaine Liu; and boxer and human rights activist Pardeep Singh Nagra.

In 2002, acting on a motion raised by Senator 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 — have planned a variety of activities this year to share Asian culture with others, and included Aboriginal performances to demonstrate their connection to Canada and respect for Indigenous peoples.

Panel discussion: Asian-Canadian refugee experiences

Moderated by Dr. Muni Mysore, a panel discussion beginning at 3:30 p.m. in the CMHR's Garden of Contemplation will focus on the experiences of three Asian refugees to Canada:

  • Maysoun Darweesh and her family were the first Syrian refugees to Winnipeg after the conflict began, when they arrived three years ago. As human rights activists, Maysoun (a journalist) and her husband (a businessman) became targets of the Syrian government. Her husband was arrested, imprisoned and tortured, then fled to China. Maysoun and their two young children joined him in Macau and were eventually sponsored to Canada by the Winnipeg-based Douglas Mennonite Church. She now works as a settlement counsellor at Welcome Place for the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council and volunteers with Mennonite Central Committee and the Kurdish Association of Manitoba.
  • Hazim Ismail won his claim last month for refugee status in Canada, after fearing he would be sent back to Malaysia where his life was in danger as an openly gay man and an atheist. A University of Winnipeg student who co-founded the migrant justice group No One is Illegal, Hazim's story became public when a GoFundMe campaign was launched to help pay his tuition after his family disowned him and stopped paying for his education. Hazim serves as a director for the University of Winnipeg Students' Association and acts as an organizer for the anti-racism initiative 13 Fires Winnipeg.
  • MyLinh Tran was one of the Vietnamese "boat people" who arrived as refugees to Canada in the 1980s. She spent two years in a refugee camp in Malaysia before coming to Canada as a teenager with her younger brother. She was united with her family a few years later. MyLinh has a computer technology engineering diploma, a degree in computer science and a certificate in project management. She is currently the manager of the Project Management office at Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation. She and her husband, Man, have two daughters and a son.

Media contacts

Maureen Fitzhenry