The Government of BC and the City of Vancouver have joined together to make Vancouver’s Chinatown a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Today, Premier John Horgan and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson signed a memorandum of understanding to reaffirm their governments’ commitment to seeking the designation.
In its World Heritage Site program, UNESCO – short for the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization – selects landmarks or areas that have a cultural or historical significance, and such sites are legally protected by international treaties once formally designated.
Vancouver’s Chinatown is the third largest in North America, behind districts in New York City and San Francisco.
“Vancouver’s Chinatown is a powerful symbol of the resilience, determination and courage of generations of the Chinese community and people who have helped build this province,” said Premier John Horgan, in a release. “The contributions of early Chinese immigrants, and their descendants, touch every corner of our province. We’re working to honour this legacy and protect historical sites for generations of British Columbians to come.”
The province says a UNESCO World Heritage site designation would recognize the “global significance” of Vancouver’s Chinatown as a site of “ongoing cultural and historic value to the people of Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada.”
“The site will serve as a permanent reminder of the racism, discrimination and hardships faced by Chinese-Canadian pioneers, who helped build the province and nation.”
Vancouver’s Chinatown already has two historic designations from senior governments. It was declared a National Historic Site by the federal government in 2011 and a Historical Site of Significance by the provincial government in 2014.
The federal government would have to officially declare its support in order for Vancouver’s Chinatown to be considered for UNESCO designation.
With files from Kenneth Chan.