Spring Programming: Hapa-palooza MC's VAHMS Opening & more!

Opening of 2017 Vancouver Asian Heritage Month
Saturday April 22, 10:00am

explorASIAN 2017, produced by the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society, is featuring the Mixed Asian Heritage Community for Canada's 150th Anniversary! What better represents Canada than many heritages and cultures coming together to form a community of many different roots?

We are proud to work this year with the explorASIAN, which is hosting its official opening ceremony on April 22nd. Our very own Jeff Chiba Stearns and Anna Ling Kaye will be MC'ing the ceremony.

Check out all of Hapa-palooza's Spring programming (events on April 19 & May 4!) in our latest newsletter.


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Lauren Brevner on Being Mixed

with Nargis Dhirani

 

What is your heritage/ancestry/background/hapa?

I am half Japanese, a quarter Trinidadian, a quarter German.

When someone asks you about your background, what’s the worst way to be asked?

Probably the worst way is not asking but just telling me what I am, saying “oh you’re Chinese” and getting it completely wrong. I don’t really get offended that much by these questions because I’d rather people ask than assume. There’s a lot of assumptions made and the only way to get things clear, get things right and to learn is by asking, so if people just ask me I think it’s better that way. One thing I really don’t like… I hate the word Oriental, I’m not a rug! You know what I mean?

There’s certain choice words that people use Ethnic, Oriental, they’re all very broad terms that people just stick on people when there are lots of different ethnicities, I just hate broad labels.

How do you feel and what do you say when asked, “Where are you from?”

I know that can be touchy for some people but when people ask me where I’m from I always tend to say, “I’m Canadian.” I just say I’m Canadian because it stems from a deep insecurity of mine of not being able to identify with any one culture. I don’t feel like I’m Japanese enough, I’m not Black enough, I’m not White enough, so saying I’m Canadian is the only thing I feel comfortable actually saying. I almost feel like I’m an imposter Japanese or an imposter German and I don’t even speak Japanese.

I grew up in my Grandma’s house who is full and fluent Japanese, like came from Japan-Japanese. I’m totally immersed in the culture, I’ve even lived in Japan for a while and I still can’t fully connect. I feel like people are looking at me like “You’re not Japanese, you’re not Japanese enough to identify as one”, which sucks, especially when you’re young.

Do you remember when you first understood that you are mixed race? What was it like growing up?

Ever since we were young, my mom always spun it in our heads that being mixed is cool, different and awesome. She would tell us “You’re unlike anyone else, ask anyone in your class, there’s nobody who has what you have and that’s special.” So, my brother and I were always proud that we were different, we’re half this, a quarter that and we wore it with pride.

Then I had a couple happenings that started to feel not like that anymore, once you start getting a older and realizing okay I’m not like anyone else and that’s not a good thing. My hair for example, I can’t tame it the way others can, and there are all kinds of different things. My lunch, everyone would have lunchables and I would have miso soup and rice or sushi or something like that. I remember kids saying “Eww, that smells!” when I had boiled eggs, but I loved boiled eggs. I wanted the cheese and crackers though, I didn’t like them but I just wanted to be like everyone else, that’s all you want when you’re a kid. 

There are so many little random memories I have, when me and my brother used to act for commercials we would always get cast as the “Ethnic” kid. What does that even mean? In my little 5 year old brain it meant Me, that’s what I am, I’m Ethnic. I show up to the auditions and there’s Black kids and there’s Middle Eastern kids, and Asian kids, and everything except for the blonde hair blue eyed White kids who get cast for the main role and we were the background color. It just confused me and I didn’t understand until way later what that was, what that meant and why we were all being grouped together.

Growing up, I started to embrace my Japanese side and I moved to Japan and lived there for a year. After pretty much being raised by my Grandma who is Japanese, I wanted to know so much more and I always wanted to get to know that culture. Now that I’ve gotten to that, my desire is to delve into my other backgrounds. Trinidad is next, I really wanna go to see my family there.

What was your experience like living in Japan? Do you feel that you got to get closer to your roots?

It was the opposite, I’ve never felt so “White”. I really thought it would bring me closer and I would identify, but it made me realize that my Grandma also identifies as Canadian. As much as she is Japanese, she moved to Canada for a reason and she liked it, so she stayed here. Over time she became more Canadian, so the Japanese experiences I got were actually Canadian. After being in the heart of Japan, it’s not even close to what I experienced, it’s so different and also really alienating. Japan can be a very cold place.

What were your interactions like there?

They thought I was Japanese, even when I’d be walking on the street people would speak to me in Japanese and I couldn’t reply, I was still learning. They would just have a shocked look on their face and walk away, it was scary like I was some alien or something.

I look back at the experience as a fond memory, but living there I felt alienated, I felt so far away from my own culture and so far away from a culture that I was supposed to be a part of. But at the same time, I’m still so glad I did it, I love love love Japan so much but it was tough.

How does your identity affect your work as an artist?

There wasn’t that many mixed people in mass media or anyone to identify with when I was growing up. There were some mixed people but it wasn’t as big or as many as there are now. I couldn’t turn on the TV or open a magazine and say “Oh that’s what I am!”.  I think that’s why with my art I’m creating that for myself because I couldn’t really find that anywhere. I’m still struggling with who I am and where to fit in so it’s almost cathartic to be able to create portraits. I’ve had extreme self image issues throughout my whole life and the fact that I can manipulate everything and it’s all in my control in painting it’s extremely rewarding in a really weird way. My work is literally about identity, it’s one in the same.

When did you first realize you were meant to be an artist?

After I got back from Japan in 2012, I had my gap year and wondered what to get into. I got into Special Effects Makeup Artistry and a part of it is knowing how to sculpt for prosthetics. I bought clay and started to play around with it and felt like a child again, I used to love crafting. I was just playing around then it lead it me picking up a sketchbook and pencil, then paint and then it just never stopped.

You portray strong and sensual women in your work, Who are you painting? Where is this surreal space they live in?

When I’m painting or drawing these pictures, I’m not trying to create an image. It’s more of a portrait I create that I then experiment different materials on. It starts with me just drawing right on the canvas, it’s very organic, very loose and kind of nonconceptual but I sit down, start working and let it happen. They don’t exist in any its in a kind of physical environment it’s more of a dreamscape and my ideal personification of beauty in my opinion. I’ll see a pair of eyes I think are beautiful or nose or tilt of a chin and that’s where it starts. 

 

How do you feel now that you’ve created your own representations of beauty?

It’s weird because I’m struggling again in my work, it’s now coming to a point in my work where I think my beauty ideals are messed up and I need to change that. The beauty industry is so horribly wrong and I grew up in an environment looking at these perfect photoshopped models in magazines. Now I’m starting to question, why do I see this as beautiful? There’s a whole plethora of what I find beautiful but I feel like I’m still painting this same woman. I think that's the result of growing up in North America and what our beauty standards are, its ongoing progress I think I'm trying to break it down.

When I began my recent series of work I kind of like the idea of art being beautiful for the sake of being beautiful. The art scene is has a huge amount of conceptual work out there. I know we’re not in the times of the old masters where a beautiful picture is a beautiful picture. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a beautiful picture, but the older I get that seems to be changing, I didn’t get to go to Art school and learn about how to conceptually think of which I really wish I had the opportunity to, I feel I will probably take some classes to learn about theory but for now, I like to paint. 

What's a favorite family dish you enjoyed growing up with?

Tuna Sashimi, if we went to grandmas house that was the special, she would get a giant piece of tuna from Steveston for us all to share. Also, Tako Sashimi, octopus. All the Japanese food really but then again if we’re going with my Trini side, my grandpa’s Goat Curry is the bomb. The bomb diggity.

 

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2016 Art Exhibit: Lauren Brevner

As part of its 2016 programming, Hapa-palooza Festival is delighted to present the art of Lauren Brevner in the Vancouver Public Library Moat. Free and open to the public during library opening hours. Lauren's paintings will be on display for the duration of September 2016 and spotlighted at our Sept 23, 2016 Hip Hapa Hooray Gala.

Lauren chats with Hapa-palooza on identity and creativity: check out the full profile here!

Minelle Mahtani opening words

On Sept 23, 2016, we are excited to have Roundhouse Radio host and academic Minelle Mahtani open our festival with a keynote address. Minelle is of Iranian and Indian heritage, and was raised in a Muslim and Hindu household.

On that evening, we will also honour Minelle with our Community Builder Award (past recipients include Kip Fullbeck and Margaret Gallagher) for her advocacy and advancement of mixed race identity and understanding. Elder Larry Grant and Director X will also be honoured, and comedian Sean Devlin will MC. All are welcome to attend, please RSVP at this link to guarantee attendance!

For a preview of Minelle's thoughtful approach, please see her opening statement for our Raising Mixed Race event with Sharon H. Chang at the 2015 Hapa-palooza. You can also read an excerpt of Minelle's book, Mixed Race Amnesia here.

It is almost irrelevant whether race is a social construction when the lived reality of race is so abundantly apparent in the lives of mixed race people.
— Minelle Mahtani, Mixed Race Amnesia

Can't wait to continue conversations and meaningful connections at our festival next week! See you there and please feel free to spread the word!

Sixth Annual Hapa-palooza Festival 2016

HAPAPALOOZA FESTIVAL: CELEBRATING MIXED HERITAGE

The 2016, sixth annual Hapa-palooza Festival runs for the month of September, including a month long art exhibit at the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library, and three days of free community programming welcoming all:

  • Fri., Sept. 23rd, 2016: Hip Hapa Hooray Awards Gala, with performances, music, hapatizers and drinks at CBC Studio 700, downtown Vancouver, from 7-9pm.
  • Sat., Sept. 24th, 2016: Hapa-palooza Family Day, with live music and dance performances, face-painters, henna, balloons, community art project, and photo-booth at Granville Island Picnic Pavilion from 1-4pm.
  •  Sun., Sept. 25th, 2016: Hapa-palooza meets Word Vancouver, workshops and panel discussion on mixed heritage at Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, noon - 5pm.

The Hapa-paplooza Festival celebrates mixed heritage and cultural hybridity.  The (Hybrid Ancestry Public Arts) HAPA Society aims to create opportunities for engaging community in raising awareness, dialogue and celebrating mixed heritage. Hapa is a Hawaiian term for people of mixed ancestry used globally today.

 

May 21 - HybrIDentity Art Workshop

Hybrid Ancestry Public Arts (HAPA) Society is excited to offer May and June events in partnership with the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society.

HybrIDentity Art Workshop - Join in on this hands-on art workshop that explores how immigration and multiculturalism continue to shape Canadian society and identity through language, text & image.
Led by Nargis Dhirani. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016 - 6:30-8:30pm
Heartwood Community Cafe (317 E. Broadway)
Free Public Event - RSVP on Facebook

HAPA Eco Film and Panel

Mixed Voices Raised:

Environmental Advocacy Panel + A Last Stand for Lelu Film-screening

HAPA Society / Hapa-palooza presents A Last Stand for Lelu film screening with hapa environmental advocacy panel featuring the film’s co-director Tamo Campos (Founder of Beyond Boarding), Anne Casselman (Environmental journalist), Toby Barazzuol (Owner of Eclipse Awards) and Kai Nagata (Communications Director at Dogwood Initiative). Panelist will explore the connection between their passion for environmental activism and being of mixed heritage.  Moderated by Hapa-palooza co-founder Zarah Martz.  In association with the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society.

  • Date: June 1, 2016 Time: 7pm to 8:30pm
  • Location: VPL Central Branch - Alice MacKay room
  • Free Public Event
A LAST STAND FOR LELU Produced & Directed by Farhan Umedaly (VoVo Productions) & Tamo Campos (Beyond Boarding) 2016, Canada, 24 minutes A great injustice is being done on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert, B.C., the sacred and traditional territory of the Lax Kw'alaams people for over 10,000 years. The B.C. provincial government is trying to green light the construction of a massive LNG terminal on the island – Pacific Northwest LNG, backed by Malaysian energy giant Petronas, without consent. The Lax Kw'alaams are the keepers of Lelu Island and its connected Flora Bank, a massive sand bar that is part of the Skeena River estuary and known by fisheries biologists as some of the most important salmon habitat in Canada. The project would devastate the Skeena River, the natural wildlife and countless communities in the path of the LNG pipeline that will feed the terminal with fracked gas from Northeastern B.C. The Lax Kw'alaams have voted unanimously against the project and became legendary when they rejected a $1.15 billion dollar deal from Petronas in an attempt by the company to gain consent. Ignoring the voice of the Lax Kw’alaams, Petronas, with full backing of the Provincial Government have illegally begun drilling into Flora Bank where they now face off against warriors of the Lax Kw'alaams who have occupied the island since August 2015. Join the resistance of the Lax Kw’alaams on both land and sea in ‘A Last Stand for Lelu’. Worldwide debut February 15, 2016: Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF) www.vimff.org www.vovoproductions.com www.beyondboarding.org

Hapa Family Day Story

Personal story - Hapa-palooza Team Member Nadine

When my son was born I asked my mother to write down her stories as a gift to him.  20 years later, she finished her autobiography and I finally met my mother.  Not the woman who raised me but the woman who left a tropical island to live in snowy Canada and fall in love with a white man, in the 1960’s.  I love her stories - about running to school in her bare feet then stopping to cram her dusty feet into leather oxfords before the teacher caught her - her first experience seeing snow - wartime in Trinidad - her crazy friends… stuff that happened before I was born.  My father is in her stories too, woven throughout.


So… my take away?  Hapas have great stories - we must write them down!  And Facebook posts don’t count, folks.  There is a voice to written word that is not captured in photos, videos or social media posts.  Even certain handwriting can stop me in my tracks, like a memory of a smell.  As a gift to your family and the generations that will follow, to those you will never meet but will have inherited your eyes, your love of marzipan … give your stories to them.  But whatever you do, do not attempt to bring teenagers into the living room to tell them your stories - this is very dangerous - best to write it down.

Siupatie’s ebook link here soon
 

 

Boca del Lupo 3.7% Initiative !

Boca del Lupo is now accepting applications for The 3.7% Initiative!

Named for the low percentage of key creative roles in Canadian theatre held by ethnically and culturally diverse women (including those of aboriginal or mixed racial heritage), this initiative supports women who have a strong desire to change that statistic by taking their performing arts career into their own hands.

Led by Boca del Lupo’s Artistic Director Sherry Yoon and Associate Producer Intern Ming Hudson, the group aims to build a strong and supportive community of diverse females who are willing to work together and create change right here at home in Vancouver. 

Members of The 3.7% will benefit from peer-to-peer support and free programming such as workshops, local and national guest speakers, open discussions and cultural activities. Monthly meetings will commence in March 2016 and will be held at various spaces in Vancouver. 

Are you a member of The 3.7%?

Boca is looking for women in theatre/performance arts who: 

- Self-identify as being ethnically and culturally diverse (including those of aboriginal or mixed racial heritage). - Have aspirations to have a career working professionally and full-time if they had the opportunity.

- Have either finished post-secondary studies in theatre or have equivalent theatre training or experience. 

If this sounds like you, and you want to be part of this timely initiative, apply today!

 

Application deadline: February 15, 2016.

Click here to access the application form.

Boca is also looking for established performing arts professionals who self-identify as being ethnically and culturally diverse women (including those of aboriginal or mixed racial heritage) and would be interested in lending their support and expertise to this initiative.

If you are an established professional, or have any questions around The 3.7% Initiative, please contact Ming Hudson.

It's a Wrap! Thank you for coming to Hapa-palooza 2015!

A huge hapa high 5 to all of this year's Hapa-palooza Festival goers!

We want to say an especial big thank you to all of our dedicated Festival volunteers and generous sponsors. Without all of you, there would be no Hapa-palooza Festival! We hope you had as much fun as we did!

Check out our
2015 Photo Gallery for some great shots!

Here's a sneak peek!

An energetic crowd learning the choreography to "Beat It" with Michael Jackson tribute artist Kyle Toy.

An energetic crowd learning the choreography to "Beat It" with Michael Jackson tribute artist Kyle Toy.

Festival founders Anna Kaye and Jeff Chiba Stearns flank Hapa-palooza's 2015 award recipients Lawrence Hill, Margaret Gallagher and Tamo Campos. Congratulations to the award winners on their many achievements! 

Festival founders Anna Kaye and Jeff Chiba Stearns flank Hapa-palooza's 2015 award recipients Lawrence Hill, Margaret Gallagher and Tamo Campos. Congratulations to the award winners on their many achievements! 

Hapa and he knows it! Love the pride this festival goer showed at our Hapa Family Day event!

Hapa and he knows it! Love the pride this festival goer showed at our Hapa Family Day event!

Hapa-palooza Co-Founder Nominated for Prestigious Literary Award

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Congratulations to Festival Co-Founder Anna Ling Kaye on being named a finalist for the 2015 $10,000 Writers' Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey PrizeThe Journey Prize is the most significant monetary award given in Canada to a developing writer for a work of short fiction published in a literary journal. Many past nominees have gone on to become some of Canada's most recognizable names in literature. 

Anna tells us her story "Red Egg and Ginger," originally published in Prairie Fire magazine, is about a young Cantonese girl making difficult decisions about her inter-racial relationship. Intrigued? Pick up a copy of the 2015 Journey Prize Anthology and read all about it!

Congratulations, Anna! We're all rooting for you!

 

Hapa Book Club Anyone?

Growing up mixed race can be confusing at times.  Thank goodness there are other Hapas out there writing about their experiences.  Chances are you will relate to the amazing authors and their books that we have dug up.  Here is a reading list we have collected so far.  Do you know any other books about mixed race heritage or mixed art culture?  Add them to the comment area and we'll add them to our growing list.  Can't find one you like?  Then it sounds like YOU need to write a book ! 

This year we are pleased to host two events that feature Hapa authors:

Lawrence Hill (Book of Negroes) with his new book "The Illegal"  and

Sharon Chang (Raising Mixed Race) will be conducting a parenting workshop.

Check out these events and bring your book club too !

The Bulletin & Hapa-palooza 2015

In celebration of the 5th annual Hapa-Palooza Festival, hapa Bulletin editor, John Endo Greenaway,  spoke to six members of the Festival Board.  It was an honour to be featured on the front page and to share our stories.
Read about each of our Hapa experiences and our upcoming Hapa-palooza Festival in the Bulletin!  with Jen Kato, Natasha Neale, Anna Kaye, Nargis Dhirani, Nadine Harding and Jeff Chiba Stearns.