NOW a truly North American event, the genesis of Asian Heritage Month
can be traced back to the United States in 1977.
Following a resolution introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives,
the year prior, by Frank Horton, a New York Republican, and Norman Y.
Mineta, a California Democrat, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint
Resolutionon on October 5, 1978, declaring the first ten days as
Pacific/Asian Heritage Week. Twelve years later, on May 7, 1990,
President George Bush proclaimed May as Asian Pacific American Heritage
Month. On October 23, 1992 the enacting legislation was signed into law.
IN CANADA, Edmonton's Asian Heritage Month was founded in May 1998 and
officially proclaimed by its Mayor, Bill Smith. It became the first ever
in Canada to have its event officially recognized by a civic and, later,
provincial, government. Three years later, in December 2001, the Senate
of Canada passed a motion officially designating May as Asian Heritage
Month in Canada.
Since its inception, Edmonton's Asian Heritage Month has continued to
lead in the production and presentation of cultural works to new
audiences, and the intergenerational exchange of ideas and experiences
among leading creators.
The Inaugural showcase in 1998 represented a seminal event, not just for
local Asian Canadian artists, but for the Asian Heritage Month festivals
across Canada. As the first national event of its kind, it received
immediate support from community audiences, as well as recognition in
the mainstream media. Award-winning Asian Canadian artists included,
Hiromi Goto, Marty Chan, Larissa Lai, Evelyn Lau, Raj Pal ,Sally Ito,
Yung Luu, Mieko Ouchi, Joseph Lai, Willie Wong, Kita No Taiko, M.J.
Kang, Terry Watada, Sean Gunn, and Kuan Foo.
Edmontonís Asian Heritage Month soon provided the impetus for other
cities, including Vancouver and Montreal, to produce regional and
national programmes of their own. Edmontonís official Proclamation of
Asian Heritage Month as a designated date by its civic and provincial
governments, would later influence the participation of Canadaís, other
major cities of Halifax, Calgary, (the return of) Toronto, Ottawa, and
Winnipeg, in this international event.
In 1999, the" Asian Canadian Excellence (A.C.E.) Awards" were created to
pay tribute to distinguished artists the likes of acclaimed author,
Kerri Sakamoto, of Toronto.
IN MAY 2005, marked by Alberta's Centennial Year, the ASIAN HERITAGE
MONTH SOCIETY OF EDMONTON will undertake the hosting of the annual
From 1998 to 2001, Edmonton's Asian Heritage Month was hosted through
the (then) Asian Canadian Writer's Workshop Society of Edmonton, and
between 2002 and 2004, as a collective of individual artists and groups,
reflected by the increasing number of diverse, artistic and cultural