May 2021 Update

May 2021 Update r1 ...

May @ SOVI

Photo by Jon Hernandez, CBC. Photo shows a group of people standing on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery, holding signs. The signs read "Protect Asian Women", "We Are Not Virus, Hate is A Virus" "We Need Love and Justice" and "Hate is a Virus." The protestors are also holding a large banner reading "Proud to be Asian. We Build Canada Together."

A message from our Co-Chairs

May was Asian Heritage Month, which spurred events, conversations, and awareness surrounding the diverse heritage, culture and identity of Asian people, as well as dialogue on anti-Asian racism in Canada. This month, SOVI Communications Coordinator Julie Tierney spoke with Charis Tazumi. Charis is a 21-year-old Vietnamese-Japanese Canadian, currently attending University of Victoria for Child and Youth Care. When she’s not in school or working at a daycare, she works on anti-racist workshops with her mom, Thanh.

Over the past year, how has your work evolved?

I feel like it wasn’t until this past year that my work felt actionable or tangible. In the fall, my mom invited me to assist her on her Anti-Racism Response Workshops, and it led to opportunities to co-facilitate them, and to be mentored by her team- that’s been a great experience. 

But, after the shootings in Atlanta, I felt really helpless. I didn’t know what I was doing, or what my purpose was. After taking time to take care of myself and to process what happened, like many others, I decided to hold a fundraiser to donate to Asian Americans Advancing Justice, who had a fund for the affected families. I posted a video on Instagram, explaining I would be selling homemade bags of gyoza and 100% of the funds would be going towards donating. The response I got was overwhelming. I got over 100 orders in a week, ended up making 2000 gyoza in between my classes and assignments, and raised $1600. I felt so grateful and supported by the community I live in, and felt blown away by that experience.

What aspects of your work excites or energizes you most?

I think what excites me the most is that I’m still really new to this work, so there’s so much for me to learn. It’s really exciting, and also daunting. There are so many people who have been doing this work consistently for so long, and I hope one day I can contribute as much as they have. I’m also very eager to work with other people, since so much of what I have been doing this year has been virtual and distant. So, I’m excited to get back to campus and join new events and clubs.

Tell me about your upcoming webinar in June, and how you and your Mom developed it.

In the spring we were approached by the Atlantic Association of Colleges and Universities Social Services to speak about anti-Asian racism in the wake of what happened in Atlanta. We felt it would be so important to create a workshop and discussions that incorporate so many of the discussions we’ve been having since I was in high school. The workshop is very interactive and conversational, and focused on topics like microaggressions, the model minority myth, the history of anti-Asian racism in Canada, Western imperialism, and how it’s connected to the hyper sexualization of Asian-American women. We’ll also discuss how to confront our implicit biases and how to be an authentic ally.

We were then invited by Volunteer Campbell River to bring this conversation to our own community, and we’re so excited to work with each other. She’s my mom, and I feel so inspired by her, so working alongside her is the greatest honour.  It’s very empowering to work together and learn together, because we have many similarities in experience, but they're also different based on the times we grew up in.

What’s been important for you to hear, see, and read this Asian Heritage Month?

For me, it’s been time to reflect on my own family history. In the ‘80s, my grandparents and mom were boat refugees from Vietnam and they sacrificed everything to keep their family safe and create a new home here in Canada. And on my father’s side, my grandparents were actually placed in Japanese internment camps. What I’ve realized this month is how many young people have similar family lineages and histories to mine. It’s been beautiful to see people my age celebrating that, and their elders and parents.

Another big thing for me is that Asian Heritage Month is happening at the same time as Mental Health Awareness Month, which I know is a coincidence but it reminds me of how important it is for us to take care of our minds and ourselves while learning about these traumatic histories. But, to also to allow ourselves to be joyful and reflect on our successes too.

It is interesting to have Asian Heritage encapsulated in one month- there’s no one month to learn about Asian American history, it should happen all year, but it’s still useful to have this declared month to remind people to educate themselves and highlight events like my mom and I are doing.

What conversations about Asian heritage, identity, and culture would you like to see deepen or change in the future?

First, I’d like to echo what so many have said, which is that Asian identity and culture is so diverse. I come from a really small, predominately white town, so a lot of my knowledge or awareness of Asian heritage comes from my own experience, and my family’s. I think it’s so important for us to learn from each other, particularly those who don’t fall into the same social grouping as you. Especially people who have been marginalized from their own Asian communities. My biggest hope is to see conversations expand to include Asians of all ages, racial backgrounds, those who are mixed, citizenship status, income, ability, gender identity and sexuality. I think that’s so important because when we create these conversations, there’s people who are left out or kept out of these spaces.

Anything to add?

I’d like to give a shoutout to a great account to follow, @asiansformentalhealth on Instagram which is run by an Asian clinical psychologist Dr. Jenny Wang. She often posts talks and videos about interesting topics not often discussed. She also provides resources in multiple languages to be more accessible. It’s very cool to see an Asian psychologist, because mental health can be a taboo topic in many Asian communities. I follow her to check in with myself, so I’d recommend it. 



May was full of changes within the SOVI team. 

First, we are excited to welcome a new co-chair to the team, Patrick Makokoro! Patrick is  a social entrepreneur and educational researcher with extensive experience working in community and international development. We are feeling lucky to have his experience, knowledge and leadership on our team, and can’t wait to get to work together. 

Our accomplished co-chair Ruth Nakalyowa recently transitioned into therole of a SOVI Community Advisor, focused on anti-racism and cultural inclusion. Ruth will now assist the SOVI team in creating a more inclusive, diverse, and safe workplace. We would like to give a heartfelt thank you to Ruth for her part in shaping what SOVI is today in her role as a co-chair, and look forward to future collaboration.

Finally, we said goodbye to Julia Nunez-Eguiguren, who finished her placement as a SOVI Community Researcher in May. In her time with the team, Julia provided SOVI with valuable research and insight, by developing an anti-racism and anti-oppression community database. We are grateful for her work, and wishing her well in the future!

On the programming side, SOVI has continued to meet with our community through the Anti-Racist Community of Practice (ARCOP) and Book Club. We wrapped up our first book, The Skin We’re In, on May 20th and are planning for the future. The ARCOP continues to meet monthly to share resources and collaborate on challenges and opportunities; per usual, newcomers are welcome to join anytime. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get involved.



Photo shows the Fairy Creek Blockade, showing police and old-growth forest defenders underneath a banner reading Image shows a the bottom half of a woman, holding a sign that reads This month, the ongoing fight to protect old-growth forests has continued on Vancouver Island. In May there were dozens of arrests of old-growth forest defenders at camps on Vancouver Island, specifically at the Fairy Creek blockade. Previous analysis has recommended the province of BC defer development in certain areas, citing “irreversible biodiversity loss.” Currently, the RCMP is enforcing an injunction obtained by a logging company, which has been criticized by the Canadian Association of Journalists for heavily restricting media coverage at blockades. There have been youth organized demonstrations protesting the logging at the BC Legislature in Victoria, and organization’s pages mobilizing folks to join protest camps and solidarity demonstrations. Listen here for an interview for Indigenous reporter on the ground, Emilee Gilpin.

May 5th was the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, as well as Red Dress Day. They are an opportunity to remember and respect murdered Indigenous women- who are six times more likely to be killed than non-Indigenous women. It’s also an opportunity to teach about the traumatic impact of colonization in Canada, and to pressure both local and national governments to take concrete action to bring justice. On Vancouver Island, there were several vigils and demonstrations, including hanging red dresses, from the steps of the B.C legislature building, to highways, to outside homes. Several dresses were removed In Ucluelet First Nations treaty lands, and later put back up. The National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was released two years ago, and there is still no action plan in place to address Calls to Justice.



  • The Story You May Not Know: What does anti-Asian racism look like? | June 3rd | Volunteer Campbell River + Charis and Thanh Tazumi
  • Building an International Career: A Networking Event for Indigenous Youth I June 3rd I Global Affairs Canada, NCGC, ACIC
    •  A space to reflect on the philanthropic funding for young feminist organizing, and exchange experiences of autonomous resourcing for movement sustainability. We will share collective visions and demands on what can philanthropy do better to support young feminist movements in light of current global pandemic and beyond

    • Find details and register at
  • Nahanee Creative Speaker Series I Month of June I Nahanee Creative Inc.
    • Join Nahanee Creative Inc. for Indigenous Peoples History Month, and take part in interactive hour-long introductions throughout the month of June.
    • For details and sign-up, visit:
  • Victoria Pride Society Events I June-July I Victoria Pride Society
    • Victoria Pride is planning virtual opportunities to come together to be visible, to celebrate resilience, advocate for change and to feel a sense of community that has been missed over this past year.
    •  Details for the month long series of events, here:
  • CASID Conference 2021 Keynote Speaker Professor Felwine Sarr I June 2nd I Canadian Association for the Study of International Development

    • CASID is pleased to announce that the keynote speaker for our 2021 Conference will be the renowned Senegalese philosopher, economist, and musician–Professor Felwine Sarr, Duke University. In discussion with Rwando-Canadian scholar Jeanne-Marie Rugira, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Dr. Sarr will present his work on African imaginaries and decolonizing International Development Studies from a Senegalese perspective.
    • Registration and details, here:

  • Indigenous Economics: Reclaiming the Sacred I June 10th to 12th I Indigenous Climate Action
    • ICA invites Indigenous scholars, Elders, youth, leadership, land defenders, community members and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) allies to join a virtual gathering. Dive into discussions, workshops, panels and presentations led by Indigenous leaders, practitioners and scholars to redefine ecological economics from an Indigenous perspective. 

    • Register for the event online here: 




As the passion of emotion burns, we are tasked with leveraging emotion into courageous and committed action. Without action, emotions lose their transformative power over time. Instead, it is dedication to action that ignites us to change our world long after the glowing embers of emotion fade into the night.

-Dr. Jenny Wang, Asians for Mental Health Facebook Twitter Link Website Copyright © 2021 BC Council for International Cooperation - South Van Isle Chapter, All rights reserved.
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SOVI is based on the stolen lands of the Lək̓ʷəŋən Peoples (known by the colonial name of Victoria, BC). To contact us directly, please write us at r34.

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