Announcing the Second Year of UBC-Burnaby Village Museum Partnership

We are excited to announce the second year of a joint partnership between the Burnaby Village Museum (BVM) and UBC – specifically, the Asian Canadian & Asian Migration Studies program (ACAM), the Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL), Faculty of Land and Food Systems, Go Global, and St. John’s College (SJC).

Last summer, ACAM, CCEL, Go Global, and SJC units worked with the Burnaby Village Museum to develop an innovative model for Global Engagement, Local Impact, a transformative approach to learning that exemplifies the uniquely international connections and characteristics of the Lower Mainland and Metropolitan Vancouver. This innovative partnership between UBC and the Burnaby Village Museum created a framework that allowed students to travel globally to conduct research and then transfer that knowledge back into a regional setting, thus creating local impact.

Two of the students from 2018, Stephanie Johnson and Jennifer Lu, created the “Story Garden,” and “Story Harvest Station” as historical interpretive experiences, for museum goers to learn about Chinese Canadian history in Burnaby.

“Our term at the BVM was very fulfilling and meaningful. Through the development, prototype, and execution of the Story Card Garden and Story Harvest station, we were able to engage, interact, and learn with museum guests and community members involved with Chinese-Canadian history research at the museum.”

Since 2018, BVM has also worked closely with Denise Fong, PhD student at UBC, who has co-curated the newly opened Across the Pacific exhibit. The exhibit explores the impact of Chinese Canadians in Burnaby since the late 1800s and is presented in English as well as traditional and simplified Chinese – and also includes audio components featuring several Cantonese dialects.

At the heart of this knowledge mobility model is a UBC Go Global summer field studies class: “The Heritage of Chinese Migration – ACAM 390A.” Taught by Professor Henry Yu (History department), this year’s class will immerse 18 undergraduate students in an experiential, qualitative research-intensive academic exchange experience. As a core part of its curriculum, the learning model ties research conducted in a global context to local work opportunities for students in community-based settings.

Upon returning to Vancouver, UBC will employ four students to work at the Burnaby Village Museum. Co-supervised by UBC and Museum staff in July and August, they will be expected to turn their research into interpretive material that can be shared with visitors. This will provide exciting opportunities for students to apply heritage conservation, medicinal eating practices, and migration history from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia to the Burnaby Village Museum’s research, programming, and exhibits. The students are also given a unique opportunity to help imagine and create new interactive educational resources using innovative technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality software.

Pauline Hong (centre) and her mother, Sui Ha Hong, joined Pauline’s father in Canada in 1958. They travelled aboard a Canadian Pacific airplane. Photograph part of the Across the Pacific exhibit at Burnaby Village Museum. Courtesy of the Hong family.

Professor Henry Yu remarks that Burnaby is a particularly apt location for the students to work because of “the long history of local Chinese market-gardens and produce farms along the Fraser River”. For much of the history of the Lower Mainland, Chinese farmers helped feed the local population by growing fresh produce in farms such as those at the “Big Bend” of the Fraser along Marine Drive. Students creating research knowledge about farming in rural China can help us understand sustainable, organic farming techniques historically used by Chinese farmers in Burnaby and the Fraser delta region.

Assistant Curator Jane Lemke is excited that the Burnaby Village Museum, which has long been a popular educational destination for school children and families, can provide this opportunity for students. “With a project as open-ended as this partnership, students get a chance to take their passions and school work and apply it in the real world. They can work with school groups or in an exhibit, such as the newly launched Across the Pacific exhibit, to create access for more diverse audiences.”

UBC students and visitors to the Burnaby Village Museum will benefit from an approach that mobilizes research to make it accessible to local communities.


Media Contacts

Jane Lemke
Assistant Curator
Burnaby Village Museum

Joanna Yang
St. John’s College Project Manager
604 827 1874
University of British Columbia