May Is Asian American/Canadian And Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Throughout the month of May, AOII will honor, provide education and celebrate Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month in the U.S. and Asian Heritage Month in Canada.
Asian American/Canadian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month is observed annually in May to celebrate the contributions that generations of AANHPIs and Asian Canadians have made to American and Canadian history, society, and culture in the United States and Canada. A rather broad term, Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent, those Native to Hawaii and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. According to Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), the 2021 theme for AANHPI Heritage Month is “Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service.” According to Canada.ca, the theme for Asian Heritage Month 2021, “Recognition, Resilience, and Resolve”, embodies the myriad of sentiments that peoples of Asian descent in Canada have experienced and honours their contributions and their diverse stories which are rooted in resilience and perseverance.
The History of U.S. Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month
The story behind the celebration of Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a story of one woman standing up for her community. According to Time Magazine’s article How One Woman’s Story Led to the Creation of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, “One persistent voice expressing frustration toward the status quo can change the way history is remembered. Case in point: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The observance now takes place every May in the U.S. and is marked by communities within the country’s 22.2 million Asians and 1.6 million Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders. And yet, despite that scale, the seeds for the commemorative month originated from one woman.” Jeanie Jew, a former Capitol Hill staffer, addressed the lack of representation of her community to New York Congressman Frank Horton 15 years before it was made official in 1992.
The month of May was selected due to two reasons. The first, was to commemorate the arrival of the first known Japanese immigrant to the U.S. on May 7, 1843. The second was to honor the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 — the building of which up to 20,000 Chinese workers participated in.
The History of Canadian Asian Heritage Month
Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated and honored across Canada since the 1990s. In December 2001, the Senate of Canada adopted a motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy to officially designate May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. In May 2002, the Government of Canada signed an official declaration to designate May as Asian Heritage Month.
Each year, as part of Canada’s annual Asian Heritage Month campaign, it is encouraged for Canadians to learn about how Canadians of Asian descent have and continue to help shape Canada as it is know it today. According to Canada.ca, events such as Legislation Targeting Chinese Immigrants, The Canadian Pacific Railway, Voting Rights, Japanese internment during the Second World War, Mass Immigration following WWII and many more are important to remember, honor and learn from to understand the history of Asian communities throughout Canada.
While some of these events educate us about the horrific truths of the past in the U.S. and Canada for these communities, it is important to take this time to also celebrate the contributions that generations of AANHPIs and Asian Canadians have made to American and Canadian history, society, and culture.
Join us in celebrating and honoring Asian American/Canadian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month. We will be sharing resources throughout the month including virtual events, education from subject matter experts and other ways to honor the Asian American/Canadian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.
Resources & How To Participate
What To Learn
- How One Woman’s Story Led to the Creation of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
- Stories From the Veterans History Project: Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander American Veterans
- Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: How it Started and How to Celebrate
What To Watch
What To Read
Where To Shop
If you have resources to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.