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Become a Cultural Navigator

Vancouver Hong Kong Fair will celebrate Cantonese language and culture while helping new immigrants build networks

Belmont
Belmont is one of the bands that will perform at the Vancouver Hong Kong Fair. The other is Story on Air.

Like many new immigrants, Raymond Choi is looking to forge connections and develop networks in Vancouver. The 26-year-old Hong Kong musician moved to Canada last August, and he acknowledges that he’s still finding his way.

“It’s not easy for us to come over and leave everything in Hong Kong to start a new life,” Choi tells Pancouver over Zoom.

But unlike some newcomers, Choi is being very proactive in his first year in the country. To that end, he’s coordinating artistic performances at the upcoming free Vancouver Hong Kong Fair.

The performances run from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on May 7 at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster. The fair itself takes place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the same location on the same day.

The annual fair aims to preserve Hong Kong culture, including the fading art of sugar crafting. In addition, there will be an art market, Cantonese storytelling sessions, mini museum showcasing Hong Kong’s lost spaces, handicrafts, and film screening of A Light Never Goes Out.

The Anastasia Tsang-directed film stars Henick Chou, Alma Kwok, Jacky Hoo-Yin Tong, and Maverick Chau Shing Mak.

Watch the trailer for A Light Never Goes Out.

Adrift showcases talent and develops networks

Furthermore, Choi developed the theme for a show called Adrift, which is also part of the fair.

“Migratory birds wander around mountains and seas and travel all over the world, just to look for a place to live,” the webpage for Adrift says. “Migrants in Canada like us may also share the same feeling. We leave our homes for many reasons, and we seek a better life.

“Throughout the process, there are always ups and downs, excitements and struggles,” it continues. “So what are the migratory birds actually looking for? What are we looking for?”

More than 20 artists will perform in this curated and choreographed live show. Most of them are also newcomers to this city from Hong Kong.

“It’s really a platform for lots of us to have our space, to share our thoughts, and share our cultural things with my Canadian friends,” Choi says.

Choi says that fair attendees can also expect to see brilliant dancers in addition to musicians like himself.  He acknowledges that many of the musicians, artists, and dancers are relatively new to B.C. and don’t know the movers and shakers in Canada’s cultural world.

“They’re struggling how to reach out to bigger audiences,” Choi says. “They think their creative work is really great but they don’t have a way to express their works. They don’t have the network. The Hong Kong Fair is a way to connect everyone together.”

Hosted by HK House and supported by 852 Kitchen, the fair will create a welcoming space for artisans, creators, and small businesses with links to Hong Kong.

Raymond Choi
Raymond Choi’s dream is to eventually open a studio in Vancouver to record Cantonese music.

Recording Cantonese music in Vancouver

Choi is a keyboardist with a love of pop songs. And he points out that lyrics are extremely important in Cantopop music.

Moreover, he says that Canto music is not just limited to the old-school love songs. In recent years, Choi emphasizes there’s much more variety, with the genre encompassing hip-hop, R&B, and other forms.

“My first job in Hong Kong was doing music production in a concert production company,” he says.

In those days, he organized gigs. But the pandemic had a stifling impact on the live-music industry, so Choi switched to public relations.

He has a couple of aunts and cousins living in Vancouver, which has made the transition to Canada easier for him. He’s currently working in marketing.

But Choi still has a dream of opening his own studio in Vancouver where Cantonese music can be produced.

“I just want to create some great music pieces—especially Cantopop—for people who understand Cantonese,” he says. “I mean, that’s my ultimate goal.”

The Vancouver Hong Kong Fair takes place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday (May 7) at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster. That will be followed from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. by Adrift, which features Hong Kong artist performances. For more information, visit the website. Follow Pancouver on Twitter @PancouverMedia.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.