Meet immigrants and newcomers from the Sea to Sky, keep updated on programs, events, and diverse points of view. We add new stories and updates every few weeks.  Connect with us if you'd like to share... 

Meet the team and learn what we do

June 5, 2024

Save the date! While June is a busy month with our Multicultural Festival, Cultural Crossings art exhibit, and Multiculturalism Day art party, it's also time for our Annual General Meeting. Join us on Tuesday June 25 at 6pm at the Whistler Pubic Library and online. Meet the WMS team and board, hear about what we've been doing over the last year, elect new board members, and in-person enjoy refreshments and multicultural crafts. You are important as we grow and develop, and we hope to see you there.

Watch this space for more info and details.

May is Asian Heritage Month

May 15, 2024

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada - a time to reflect on and recognize the many contributions that people of Asian origin have made and continue to make to Canada.

Did you know? According to the 2021 Census, a total of 7,013,835 people in Canada reported having Asian origins, representing 19.3% of the population. In 2021, South Asian (7.1%) and Chinese (4.7%) people together represented over one-tenth of Canada’s total population, while Filipino (2.6%), Southeast Asian (1.1%), West Asian (1.0%), Korean (0.6%) and Japanese (0.3%) people together represented 5.6% of the country’s total population

In Whistler and Squamish, a total of 4,855 people reported Asian origins from 15 countries including 4.7% from India, 2.6% from the Philippines, 1.6% from Japan, and1.5% from China. Together they represent 13% of the population of Squamish and Whistler. Look up and see all the things people of Asian origin are doing around you, at your work and in your community. Come, meet, and learn more at the Whistler Multicultural Festival on June...

Celebrating Songkran (Thai New Year)

May 1, 2024

In April, we celebrated Songkran (Thai New Year) with Pui (Narintip) Thilajai who joined our Multicultural Community Kitchen to show how to make pad thai and mengo with sticky rice. We met up with her beforehand to hear about Songkran and how it's celebrated in Thailand. Water is especially important at Songkran, so by the river it was!

If you weren't able to be there, the recipe is on the WMS food website - see pad thai recipe. Even better, here's a video from Pui to show you how. 

Cultural Crossings - Call for Artists

April 14, 2024

Arts Whistler and Whistler Multicultural Society are celebrating the journeys of immigrants and newcomers in the Sea to Sky with a new exhibit, Cultural Crossings. Artists are invited to submit original artwork that showcases their journey to the Sea to Sky, whether through direct reflections of their homeland, integration of Canadian influences, or the evolution of identity within the context of a new environment. Artwork incorporating elements from a home culture is encouraged but not mandatory.


Whether you are a professional or an emerging artist, we want you to apply!




Learn about our entry requirements and apply today:


Exhibition dates:

Exhibit | June 5 - July 27, 2024

Multiculturalism Day Art Party | June 27, 2024

Racism and discrimination in the school system - presentation by Angela Bueno

March 21, 2024

On March 21, 2024, Angela Bueno was a speaker and discussion facilitator at our Building Inclusive Communities event to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. As a Filipina who arrived in Canada in her teens, and now an educator, she talked about her own and other newcomers' experiences of racism and discrimination in the local education system. We are grateful to Angela for allowing us to share the text of her powerful presentation.

"We often hear that education is the key to a better life for everyone, right? But the truth is, racial discrimination throws a huge obstacle in the way for many people in our community.

Before I begin to tell you how racial discrimination in education affects our community, I’d like to tell you my personal story and stories that have been shared with me by our community members.

When I came to Whistler from Canada, I was at the age of Grade 11 students. But because the Ministry of Education requires all students to write and pass the provincial exams, I would need to wait a whole school year before going into Grade 11. I walked into the guidance counselor’s office to let them know that I did not want to wait. I felt ready and confident to write the exams as I’ve already studied the same curriculum in the Philippines. I was told that they’re not confident I would pass because English is my second language and therefore I would have a hard time with the exams. I advocated for myself 3 times but was continuously advised to wait another school year.

The second story comes from a mom from Mexico. Her son came home from school one day asking to “go home”. She said “we are home”. To which he replied “my classmates told me to go back home, I want to go back to Mexico.” When she reported this incident to an employee from the school, she was brushed off and was told that “kids will be kids”.

Lastly, this story is from another Filipino lady who used to attend the Whistler Secondary School. She had heard that students are welcome to see the guidance counselor for counseling. Her impression of this was that all students were welcomed to express their hardships and will be offered comforting, reassurance, and guidance on how to solve their problems. That was exactly the opposite of what she received. She expressed her challenges assimilating to a non-diverse crowd of students. She also talked about troubles at home with her parents and friends and family back home. However, instead of receiving understanding from the counselor, she was told that based on her low school grades, all of this must surely have been her fault. She thought that there was absolutely no regard or show of concern for the cultural differences that she was facing. No further support was offered after this encounter. This person also felt alienated by other students. She felt like they avoided her and that they thought she was “weird”. She had shared with me that high school was the loneliest time of her life.

So to go back to your question - Given how important access to education is, how is discrimination based on race affecting residents in our community?

Well, based on these stories, I believe that one of the worst things about racial discrimination is how it makes people doubt themselves. Just imagine being told, directly or indirectly, that you're not as good as others because of the color of your skin or the country you were born into. That kind of message can really mess with one’s confidence, especially for young people who are just starting to figure out who they are and what they want to do with their lives.

Because of this self-doubt, many people who face racial discrimination might not even try to go for opportunities like job promotions. They start to believe they're not good enough, even when they are just as qualified as anyone else, or even more so. This creates a cycle where doors that are open to everyone stay closed to those who have been unfairly judged.

Discrimination also makes it hard for people to stand up for themselves and their rights. When you're constantly made to feel like you don't matter, it's tough to speak out and demand fair treatment. This lack of self-advocacy further compounds the barriers to accessing quality education and meaningful opportunities.

And let's not forget about the ripple effects on families. Parents who see their kids facing discrimination start to question whether they made the right choice to come to Canada, hoping for a better future. It's heartbreaking to see them doubting themselves and their decisions because as a child of immigrants and a parent myself, parents do NOT make the choice to uproot their family from their home country lightly.

On top of all this, discrimination causes a lot of anxiety. The constant fear of being judged, overlooked, or excluded corrodes mental well-being, making it difficult to focus on learning, personal growth, or pursuing one's goals.

In essence, racial discrimination casts a long shadow over our community, hindering individuals from realizing their full potential and dreams. It undermines confidence, stifles opportunities, and erodes the sense of belonging for many. It's crucial for us to unite in our efforts to dismantle these barriers, fostering an inclusive society where every individual, irrespective of race or background, can thrive and access the education and opportunities they rightfully deserve."

Explore Holi with Raj

March 5, 2024

I grew up in Mumbai. If I was Anthony Bourdain talking about Mumbai in March, it would go something like this....

Picture this: A chaotic street, somewhat like a bustling kitchen on a busy Saturday night but with a few million people, and instead of an explosion of flavor, it is a riot of colors. For Mumbaikars as they proudly call themselves, it’s Holi, the festival of colors, It's not just about getting drenched in hues; it's a celebration that transcends social divides. The colors on our faces blur the lines, and for a moment, we're all just humans reveling in the joy of unity.

Yes, Diwali is the biggest festival celebrated in India, but we Mumbaikars, celebrate pretty much every festival with just as much gusto as Diwali. Sankrant (kite fighting), Holi (festival of colors), Ramadan, Ganesh Chaturthi (my personal favorite), Navratri, and Christmas. Mumbai, with its eclectic mix of traditions and languages, laid the foundation for my appreciation of diversity.

I moved to Kamloops, BC in 2018, Meeting people at TRU from different corners of the world, I realized that diversity wasn't just celebrated during festivals; it was ingrained in everyday life. There was a cultural shock to some extent, perhaps a good one. Moving from a concrete jungle with 20-25 million people or so to a beautiful desert with maybe 100,000 people surely slows life down and makes you stop and appreciate the beauty around you. You do miss the food, especially street food, and the social life is much more than just going to clubs or house parties. When I think about life in Mumbai, it is hard to think of a day when I did not meet my friends, play a sport, hang out on the bridge near our house, eat street food, talk about life, and watch the trains disappear under our feet.

I believe as an immigrant it was hard for me to lose my support systems time and time again. First moving to Canada, then my friends graduating and moving out of Kamloops, then the pandemic. I wasn’t aware of the support and social programs available to me, partly because it was not a thing for me in Mumbai or I never had to access them, which affected my mental health. Canada was difficult at times but it also brought a different perspective on a lot of things, the biggest one being the appreciation for the ‘great outdoors’. I struggled a lot during the pandemic, especially with my social life, so as I explored the outdoor wonders, I discovered a new passion – rock climbing. I always loved sports, but climbing to me was a new lens through which I started to look at life and its adventure, struggles, and victories. My passion for climbing drove me to the Whistler and the sea-to-sky corridor, I wanted to be closer to the mountains and to Squamish, the mecca of climbing in Canada. 

Raj is our Migrant Worker Support Worker, Whistler. If you have any questions about employment standards or anything else about your work conditions and situation, check out the migrant worker services he can help with.  You can drop in to meet him every Wednesday afternoon from 1 to 5pm at the Whistler Public Library or contact him by email or phone (604.935.6686).

Hinamatsuri - memories of girl's day - Tomo Miura

March 1, 2024

Hinamatsuri is one of many traditions and festivals we have in Japan for children, and is celebrated annually on the 3rd of March. Often translated to English as “Girl's Day”, “Doll’s Day” or “Doll’s Festival”, the tradition is to wish for the healthy growth and happiness of young girls.

The custom typically involves displaying a set of ornamental dolls called hina-ningyo (hina dolls) wearing imperial court dress of Japan's Heian period (794-1185 A.D.) on a tiered altar, and celebrating the day with a variety of special festive dishes.

In my childhood growing up with two other sisters in Japan, we used to set up our family hina dolls in our living room from late February to March 3rd, and would enjoy traditional sweets and snacks our parents had bought for us. Sometimes we would wear a kimono.

Hinamatsuri is also known as Momo no Sekku (the Peach Festival) with peach flowers being one of the symbols of the festival, although the season of peach flowers is usually not until toward the end of March. This is because Japan previously used the Chinese lunar calendar, based on which March 3rd was the time of the year peach flowers began to blossom in Japan. The name of the festival remained even after the country’s shift to the new Gregorian calendar.

Hinamatsuri is believed to have derived from an ancient Chinese custom where people purified their bodies by bathing in rivers to ward off evil spirits, on the third day of the third lunar month each year. This custom was later introduced to Japan, and became the tradition of people making simple human-shaped dolls out of paper or straw to transfer the people's sin and impurities onto them, and floating them down rivers in the hope that the misfortunes would be carried away with the dolls. Over time, these dolls have become more decorative and were placed inside homes, becoming the hina dolls we are familiar with today. This tradition, combined with a form of doll play (hina-asobi) that was popular in the Heian period among the children of upper-class families, was the origin of Hinamatsuri.

Because hina dolls are believed to protect young daughter(s) in the family by carrying their illnesses and bad fortunes for them, most families with young girls have a set of hina dolls in their homes. The set typically represents a Heian period imperial wedding, and could be as simple as just a pair of a male doll (obina) representing the Emperor and a female doll (mebina) representing the Empress, often accompanied by a pair of decorative lanterns (bonbori) on their sides and gilded folding screens (byobu) behind them. This is what my family had for my sisters and me. The Emperor and Empress dolls were hand made by my mom when my eldest sister was a baby. After I moved to Canada and my daughter was born, this hina doll set was handed down to my daughter, which I brought from Japan and since then, it has been put out in a special corner of our home every year in the Hinamatsuri season.

More elaborate hina doll sets could consist of a multi-tiered altar called hinadan, with up to seven platforms. The altar, depending on the number of platforms it holds, may carry dolls representing the imperial couple, court ladies, musicians, ministers and guards, as well as various doll-size court furniture, tools and carriages. The size of the hina doll set a family may own depends on the family’s budget, preference, space limitations or whether or not the set has been passed down from the family’s previous generations.

Enjoying a variety of traditional food and drink is also very popular in celebrating Hinamatsuri. Typical dishes include:

● Chirashi-zushi - sweet-vinegared sushi rice topped with seafood, shredded egg crepes, lotus roots and other vegetables. Each ingredient signifies good luck, prosperity or longevity.

● Clam soup - clear broth soup cooked with clams in shells. A clam’s double shells symbolize a married couple who complements each other perfectly.

● Hishimochi - diamond-shaped rice cakes with three layers of colours. Pink (red) represents warding off evil spirits (also signifies peach flowers), white represents purity (also signifies snow) and green represents health (also signifies new growth).

● Hina-arare - sweet rice crackers coloured in pink, green, yellow and white, representing four seasons.

● Sakuramochi - pink-coloured rice cakes filled with sweet red bean paste and wrapped in salt-pickled cherry leaves.

● Shirozake - sweet white fermented rice wine (there is also non-alcoholic sweet rice wine called amazake for children)

After reading and learning about Japan's Hinamatsuri, you might be wondering why only girls have a special day to be celebrated? Don't worry, Japan also has an annual tradition to celebrate boys' growth, known as Children's Day, which takes place on May 5th!

Lunar new year with Yami

February 8, 2024

Lunar new year is all about passing the Chinese traditions on to the next generation. I want to share my experience, the different and the rich culture and heritage I have and how that can be translated into your own experiences throughout your life’s journey.

Growing up in Hong Kong when I was a kid as a traditional family. I always travel to China for family reunions during Chinese New Year (CNY.  You have no idea how many people go to China just before Chinese New Year. I am not goanna lie. Its insane, Its around 226 million people travel to China during CNY. That’s the worse part but is worth it.  Why? Too many reasons.  I could just eat all day along for 7 days and endless amounts of sweets and coin chocolates. Have an excuse to wear new clothes, have a new hair cut. Fireworks and firecrackers is huge during CNY in China, I could have a chance to set off fireworks every night, It makes it really fun especially is illegal in Hong Kong, elders who are married will offer youth red pocket (called Lai see)  which is filled with money and good wishes and luck for the new year ahead.

Speaking of food, Chinese New Year foods is based on their pronunciations or appearance. Not only do the dishes themselves matter, but also the preparation, and ways of serving and eating mean a lot. We believed to bring good luck for the coming year. There are many must have dishes  in CNY. Such as Fish, Chicken, Poon choi and braised dried oyster with black moss. We always make '8 dishes'. In Cantonese, the number 8 means “prosper/wealth".

Fish (魚)In Cantonese, the word for fish ( – yú) has the same pronunciation as , which means ‘surplus’ or ‘extra’, signifying plenty of prosperity.

Poon choi (盆菜) is a uniquely Hong Kong dish, originating in village communities of the New Territories. Families would contribute whatever food they had to a large communal pot, which would be cooked and eaten over the course of the day and therefore, symbolised unity and togetherness. The ingredients, which can range from pork and bamboo shoots to oyster and abalone (to further emphasise wealth), are prepared separately, then layered in a bowl, soaked in Fat choi: Good Fortune.

In the Canton area where I from, Chicken is a staple for celebrations, and Lunar New Year is no exception. It’s not just about the taste; in Cantonese, the word for chicken (gei, ) sounds similar to “family” (gaa, ), symbolising family harmony and marital bliss

Braised dried oyster with black moss (髮菜蠔豉) This is well known to bring great things and abundance (發財好市). Dried oysters sound like “great markets” (好市) when pronounced in Cantonese, while black moss, also known as hair vegetable, sounds like “be prosperous” (發財). 

Yami is the Multicultural Outreach Worker in Whistler. Meet her every month at the Multicultural Community Kitchen. This month (February 2024) she'll be teaching how to make Chinese new year dumplings. Check out what's cooking and book your spot at

Meet Barbora Vaneckova, Multicultural Outreach Worker, Squamish

January 15, 2024

Tell us about yourself..

I started to have itchy feet when I was studying and would travel a lot during the summer break. When I finished my studies, I decided to visit and work in Canada for a year with my partner at that time, from the Czech Republic, and then come home and find a job, settle down and... you’re probably guessing that didn’t happen :) It’s been 12 years since then. 

I spent all my years back home at school, graduated with a Master of Arts. I was an English language tutor in my free time to earn some extra money for travelling. Culture shock hit me a big time when I came to Whistler. I was looking for a job and soon realized all my years of studying meant nothing for the employers here. I had no Canadian education nor any work experience which made me look for a job in entry level positions. I knew I had to make my way up from the very bottom and start from scratch in the new country. It took me a few years of working all kinds of positions in hotels and restaurants to finally find a job, which gave me a peace on my mind. I started to work for the Whistler Multicultural Network at that time as an outreach worker, took a few years off to bring up my children and now I’m back to my position of a Multicultural Outreach worker but in Squamish... 

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country?

Canada reminds me of my home country and I think that’s one of the reasons I ended up staying here. Nature looks very alike. There are beautiful mountains, rivers, waterfalls, farms etc. in Canada just like back home with only one difference; it’s triple the size. That applies to cars, roads, buildings, 4l milk jugs, just to name a few.

What I really like about Canada is the mentality of the people and their lifestyle. People are very friendly, positive and happy to help. It took me a while to get used to the greeting: “Hi, how are you?” I always questioned why people would ask me that and don’t even wait for the answer. Then I understood it was more of a greeting rather than an actual question. People are very active and fit which is very inspiring. Their priority isn’t necessarily to have a big clean house, or worrying about how one looks and does, no one really cares. Seeing an 80 year old coming down the bike park or skiing down the hill is what makes me want to be.

I think it used to be the food I would miss the most, now I got used to, found alternatives and/or my taste buds have changed. Bread is not the same, cheese is expensive. I miss “bryndza” which is a sheep cheese used for our national meal. The restaurants are very different here. It’s either Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Lebanese restaurant or then a blend of the cuisines having burgers and sandwiches for the main course - it’s not something we would have. Our meals also typically consist of at least 2 items: soup and then the main meal. And kids’ menu – it is so unhealthy here, missing veggies, grains and/or fruits.

The last but not least, it is the history, traditions, concerts, festivals, Christmas markets – all of these are not the same. There’s something missing for me…Maybe it’s the language. You know the feeling when you hear someone speaking your language, how your heart jumps. 

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why?

We celebrate all our holidays, cook traditional meals, bake, sing, read stories and listen to our music. Getting together with our friends across the Sea to Sky corridor and organizing St. Nicolaus day for the Czech/Slovak children (having attendance of around 60 people), celebrating Christmas and Easter has created one of the nicest memories. It is who we are, what makes us special and connects us deeply. 

How do you think immigrants contribute to Canadian society?

Slovak and Czech people have been mostly immigrating to Canada since the second half of the 19th century. They have contributed largely to the economic, social and cultural development of Canada. They worked hard on the farms, mines, and for the Canadian Pacific Railway. There have also been many highly educated people who made Canada their home. Many Slovaks have made a name in sports, music, arts, and politics. Immigrants work hard, bring many skills and knowledge with them and help shape the country. It has happened to me so many times I asked someone where they were from originally and we found out, Czechia or Slovakia was the answer. We can all learn from each other, share and be proud of our roots and inspire each other to make the world to be a better place.

Why is it important to raise awareness of the local Czech/Slovak community?

Czechs and Slovaks work very hard, attention to detail, being honest and responsible are the key values when at work. Many of us have their own businesses in town. We raise children on our own as most of us have no extended family here, which means no support. We are one of the minority community groups here and alongside with other community members of different cultures and backgrounds we strive to live in a harmony, peace, and mutual understanding and respect for each other.

December 11, 2023

Meet Lizet Martinez, WMS services administrator

December 11, 2023

Tell us about yourself..

I came to Canada in 2013 and entered into a 2-year college program where I got a Hospitality Management Degree, the plan at that time was to finish the program and then gain Canadian experience. However, I always had my goal set and that was to become a Permanent Resident of Canada. Even though it took me longer than I thought, finally I achieved my dream in 2021. I have a university degree in Industrial Administration back in Mexico and that helped me to be able to work in the finance department. I started to gain more restaurant experience and combine my admin skills in the food and services sector. Recently, I have been working as admin and marketing support for the Whistler Multicultural Society where I can implement and use my admin skills for the projects that we develop. 

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country?

I would say that definitely, the rules are different in the Canadian culture than in my home country. Any kind of rules like for example traffic rules, tax rules, medical services rules, and even just simply how to make a resume. In general rules and standards are more defined here in Canada than in my own country.  

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why?

I try to keep 3 parts from my own culture, first and the most important is language, the second is food, and lastly traditions. It is important for me that my kid would be able to communicate in Spanish with the rest of the family back home. Also, I try to cook as often as I can traditional foods like “fideo soup” “albondigas” “molletes” and other traditional ones like “enchiladas and tacos” all of that with spicy salsas of course. Traditions are important to me but unfortunately hard to maintain them alive in another country. One of the traditions that we try to keep is “Day of the Dead” and el “Raton de los dientes” which is another version of the tooth fairy over here.  

How do you think immigrants contribute to Canadian society?

I think that immigrants like me can bring traditions and cuisine into Canadian society and by doing this people from Canada can have a feel of what we do in our own country and be more open to accepting other’s people cultures. Also, I believe that immigrants bring an important workforce to Canada. It has been known that many immigrants get the opportunity to open their businesses and contribute to the economy in this country. Saying that we can contribute to being part of a more inclusive society as well. 

Why is it important to raise awareness of the local Latin American community?

I think it is important that we share our own experiences with others who might be starting to settle down in our community. By sharing what is important to keep in my culture maybe I can find more people that are looking for the same. I will never forget those people who helped me when I arrived in Canada, they certainly occupy a special place in my heart and sometimes the best way to give back is by helping others who might need help now.  

Anti-Racism activities Whistler Locals Want to See 

September 30, 2023

Anti-racism Initiatives: What Whistler Locals Want to See 

On September 20th and 26th 2023 we met with 15 different people across two meetings to discuss the kinds of programs and legislation the community wants to see from the Government of B.C. and the Whistler Multicultural Society. Nine different questions were posed to the groups to gain a better understanding of the support needed by the community and how current legislation and programs are impacting racial groups. Four of the questions and responses can be seen summarized below.


How can the Government of BC better support racialized and Indigenous peoples through anti-racism legislation?

Legislation needs to be clear, actionable and accessible to the public. The government needs to hold the institutions accountable for the acts of racism committed by the individuals within the institutions. However, group members came to agree that legislation was not the best way to combat racism because racism is often an unconscious act and rooted in the structures of our society.


What kind of programs can the Government of B.C. create to help heal communities, victims and survivors of racism?

The experiences or racialized peoples needs to be validated by the government and the greater community. The government should develop better and more accessible reporting tools for acts of racism. Any investigations into instances of racism should be investigated by an object third party centered on equity, transparency and accountability. In addition, programming and resources should be focused not only on helping individuals suffering from physical harm but also include mental health resources.


What kinds of programs can WMS create to support healing of victims and survivors of racist actions in our communities?

The creation of sharing circles that provide individuals with a safe place to share their experiences. Sharing circles should be developed with the help of counselors and other professionals. There needs to be more invested in education and continuous communication within the community. Initiatives such as intercultural sharing and greater education regarding the different racial groups in our community. There should also be resources for parents to help unpack topics of racism and bullying with their children. 


How can the government of B.C. be held accountable for the programs and outcomes of this legislation?

Create a benchmark with clear, measurable outcomes that benefit marginalized, racialized communities and can be monitored regularly. There needs to be full transparency on what the outcomes are and how they will be monitored and reported. There should be a visually compelling annual report written in plain language and offered in multiple languages.


Additional topics mentioned during discussion:

Racialized individuals feel as though they carry the burden of representing their entire culture. As a result these individuals carry a large emotional and mental burden.

When speaking with organizations in Whistler it was made clear that racism falls at the bottom of the list of issues that Whistler faces. However, each of the issues highlighted by these companies cannot be solved without taking into account the racial discrimination experienced by Whistler community members. Whistlerites need to understand the impacts of institutionalized racial discrimination on community members. 

Meet Pilar Rueda, Colombian art teacher

October 27, 2022

Tell us about yourself..

When we arrived in Canada we came to Whistler because my husband's aunt lives there. In Colombia, I managed a government art school for children and youth from low-income families. I am a wife and mother of 2 beautiful children and I dedicate myself to taking care of them and I have more children in my care to whom I teach Spanish. I also volunteer some time to teach Spanish classes for older adults who want to practice the Spanish language.

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country?

Canada and Colombia are very different countries, if we start with the geographical location, Colombia, being located on the parallel of the equator, does not have seasons and has all the thermal floors, it is located in the northwestern region of South America; this makes customs very different from countries that have seasons, like Canada, Canadian culture is linked to the time of year, preparing and acting according to each season, in my opinion; while Colombians have the same activities throughout the year. Colombians enjoy Carnivals such as the one in Barranquilla, which is the second largest in the world, the Carnival of Blacks and Whites, the Flower Fair and the Cali Fair that revolve around various musical genres, Salsa, Bachata, vallenato and merengue. This means that Colombia's economy revolves around agriculture, livestock, tourism and exploitation of gold and oil, it has diverse fauna and flora.

The tropical climate and the variety of altitudes of our country Colombia favour a wide variety of agriculture. That is why flowers, sugar cane, coffee, bananas, potatoes and plantains have traditionally been considered the main products that Colombia exports. The official language is Spanish. The political division or territorial organization in Canada is in Provinces and Territories that receive the powers of government directly from the Crown. In Colombia, it is divided into 32 departments and a the capital district is Bogota, it is a Unitary, Social, and Democratic state, governed by a president. It is no secret to anyone that Colombia has a very high level of corruption that does not allow the country to prosper.

On the other hand, Colombia is relatively small compared to Canada with 1,141,748 km², but Colombia has more population of 51.6 million inhabitants. Curious facts like their main meal is lunch and many Colombian families have very little. Children have been drinking coffee since they were very young and they love it. The school year vacations are in December and January.

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why? 

I really like a Catholic Christmas tradition that revolves around children, its name is Novena de Aguinaldos. The novena de Aginaldos consists of making a prayer to the child Jesus, for 9 nights, beginning December 16 until December 24, and has become a social event in a Catholic environment that brings together family members, workers in their companies or community groups in parks, community centers, churches, shopping malls. The event is accompanied by carol singing and the sharing of different traditional food at Christmas time and the one who brings the gifts is the baby Jesus on December 24 at 12 at night. This event is very popular in Colombia.

How do you think immigrants contribute to Canadian society? 

We all bring to the country the labour force, and we contribute to the economy, to increase the population, the people who are receiving pensions can do it and the new generations contribute so that there is a balance in retirement.
On the other hand, it is important that all immigrants from anywhere in the world have a sense of belonging to make a homeland and be aware of acting honestly so that our society continues to be one of the best in the world and is a set of good deeds. that contribute to making a country.

Why is it important to raise awareness of the local Latin American community?

I love talking about my country of origin and being able to share a little with you about what Colombia is. Thank you for taking the time and understanding a little more about Colombia.

Meet Angie Vazquez, Mexican realtor in Squamish

October 19, 2022

Tell us about yourself..

How I ended up here in Squamish is for love. I came here with a family project 14 years ago, first I arrived in Vancouver then my ex-husband got a job in whistler for the Olympics then we decided to meet in the middle because he was working in Whistler and I was working in Vancouver. To be honest, at the beginning I didn’t know anything about Squamish. 14 years ago, when I came here I felt like I’ll never be able to live there, this is such a small community, but now I’m the biggest promoter of Squamish so now I laugh about my response and how I felt back then. I used to live in Mexico City with millions of people and for me to move to a new community with 20k population was such a big move but I discovered pretty soon that it was the best way to raise a family, I’m very grateful for the community.

Over the years I had to move a lot and I have been to more than 20 different countries, a lot of people don’t know about me that I studied computer engineering, when I first moved here I tried to get a job with London Drugs in their computers department but they didn’t have any openings so they offered me a position as the cosmetics manager, and I said I will take it without hesitation. That was my stepping stone, then I went to UBC to study and become a realtor because I wanted to have some freedom to take care of my kids to manage my own schedule. When I went to take the exam for the first time, I failed because I didn’t read fast. When I came back home and told my kids that I failed in the exam they didn’t believe and they couldn’t process it because for kids, their moms are perfect and they can’t fail, so it was very interesting to see their reaction.

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country?

It’s definitely different where in Mexico you do everything in a group, everyone is nosy and involved in everything, while here I like the fact that people are more respectful and there are more boundaries, but my friends know that they can come to my house any time without an appointment or anything like that, I’m always welcoming of others to come to my place.

In the beginning when I moved here it was a bit shocking because there wasn’t any help, while when I lived in Mexico I had a lot of help. Back home, there is less middle class, there’s a 20% of the population that works hard and they will employ the 80% of the population, so it’s different than Canada where everyone can have the same opportunities and I love that about the culture here.

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why? 

I always make sure that my kids speak the language and understand our cultural norms and values, because when we go back home and visit my family I want my kids to be able to speak to their grandparents. I have been very very strict and we try to always speak spinach at home 

How do you think immigrants contribute to Canadian society? 

I always try to create a community wherever I go. I try to organize events in my community, for example, three years ago I organized a Salsa dance class and a Zomba dance class, I had about 140 people dancing at the same time. As immigrants, we bring our values, our hard work because when you are an immigrant you come here with a purpose. Regardless of where you come from, people will always appreciate when you work hard and that’s pretty much what all immigrants do.

Why is it important to raise awareness of the local Latin American community?

Again, it’s about promoting our values and our warmth, and to tell people that we come here to this society to contribute to the economy not only to work, I started a business about 10 years ago in the Sea to Sky corridor at the same time I’m trying to use my work and my business to support and help local organizations and my community. I would love to say to our Latino community to always work hard and share, and be happy, and it’s always known that Mexicans are equal to happiness, and if you help the community and be a good part of where you live it will be very fulfilling and make you happier.

Meet Deisy Monry, Colombian

October 19, 2022

Tell us about yourself..

I came two years ago to visit a friend and I really liked the place so I managed to contact an employer who offered me a job offer and now I’m back with a work visa. In the past, I worked in exportations as an interline agent in the aero transport area for Europe and the USA, now I work as a purchasing agent for a local construction company

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country?

Quite different, I came from the Colombian Caribbean part and everything is way different, not just in scenery and views but as well as lifestyle, I think the Caribe is more inclusive and more welcoming and here in Canada is very reserved, very polite and that’s amazing.

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why?

Mainly gastronomic and traditional events, I have found that the Latin-American presence in Whistler is very minimal so it's very important to keep with our traditions, celebrating our important dates and so on in a certain kind of way introducing new gastronomy to whistler.

How do you think immigrants contribute to Canadian society?

In relation to Whistler, I think immigrants play a role very important, I do not have that much knowledge in general but from my side of view and what I know so far most of Whistler's business has immigrants working in their business and making them grow and help the economy, every immigrant is bringing part of their culture and enriching in somehow, not just economical but in the matter of ideas cultural, gastronomic.

Why is it important to raise awareness of the local Latin American community?

It’s important to show a little bit to the Canadian community where we are living our culture, and our ideas. I think we are a very small community, and still very young. So we bring a lot of ideas, and even if sometimes the barrier of language gets complicated most of Latin-Americans here are well-educated and can bring a lot of new ideas to make the community grow not just economically but culturally and mainly make it more inclusive, I find it very interesting to go to places that are very diverse culturally and pretty much every culture can contribute and this will help any newcomer to feel like they're at home.

Meet Karine Espinoza, Chilean in Whistler

October 4, 2022

Tell us about yourself..

I met my Canadian boyfriend in the Ski Resort Valle Nevado in Chile, after a year in a long-distance relationship I decided to move to Canada on a Working Holiday Visa. Whistler has been his home for more than 25 years, so I moved here. Whistler has been my home since 2014. I worked in the Tourism industry for different hotels, my last job in Chile, which I am currently doing remote was as a Resort Manager for 10 cabins on Easter Island, now I am the reservation manager. In Canada I have 2 jobs and I am taking my master’s degree in environmental management at Royal Roads University. One of the jobs is at Canada Post as a Senior Assistant and the second job is as an office assistant for a small company located in town dedicated to Spanish-speaking consumers, kind of like a concierge during the ski season. 

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country?

There are huge differences between Canadian culture and Chilean culture. The food for example, and of course this is affected by geography and there is nothing we can do about it. There are a variety of flavours and fruits in South America that I miss a lot.
The weather, I exchanged the lovely Mediterranean weather for the cold winter in Canada, but I love skiing, and that is something different too, here the mountains are more accessible than in Chile.  

Security, I feel safe in Canada, I can walk at any time. 

I can’t kiss and hug people that I just met, that was a huge one for me to learn, I had a lot of awkward moments until I learned, I can kiss just my closest ones. 

Earthquakes are not common here and, in my country, we have them all the time. I am really scared of them, so I am glad I don’t have to deal with that anymore. 

I like how Canadians are polite and respectful of other people’s space, but I also miss the closeness of Latin people, how we are always there, checking in with others all the time, sharing and laughing around food and music, and having “siestas” not just on weekends. 

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why?

Music, food and language, my boyfriend and I speak Spanish at home, and if we have kids, we will continue to speak the language to them, because it is the most important gift that I can offer. We can communicate with our loved ones that are far away and be part of their life. 

Food and music are important too. My happiest meals are when I am eating something from my homeland and dancing to our music. 

How do you think immigrants contribute to Canadian society?

Immigrants bring a reality check to some people that have been living in the first world bubble. There is a world out there, there is inequality, families must separate in order to bring food to their tables, and people work in 3 different jobs to support their families in their countries. Immigrants usually emigrate because we want a better life for ourselves and we will work hard to get it, so that brings hard work to the country and additionally all the mix of culture, food, music, language, heritage, and stories that enrich people’s lives.

Why is it important to raise awareness of the local Latin American community?

Because there is so much more of us than the country that we were born into. Our culture made us who we are, our stories of growing up, and the different approaches to similar situations in life. Together we can figure life out from different perspectives, and I believe that is something beautiful and worth living for.

Do you want to have a say in your local community?

November 1, 2021

We know that immigrants who have chosen to live and work in Whistler want to participate and have strong opinions about their local community.  There are regular opportunities for local residents to give their opinions and get involved in decisions about, for example, transportation, housing, taxes, waste disposal, or climate action, energy and environment. But it’s not always easy to communicate your thoughts and give feedback when the municipality is asking.

We’d like to help immigrants and newcomers have a louder voice but to do that we’d like to understand more about what you’re interested in giving your input on and how you’d like to have your voice heard.

Help us understand by completing a short survey. If you’re interested after  completing the survey, we’re also inviting you to join us for a deeper conversation about getting involved in our local community and decisions about how our town develops and changes. And everyone who completes a survey has the opportunity to be entered into a prize draw. 

How interested are you in getting involved in the local community? To take the survey use this link or scan the QR code with your phone…

Meet Tina (Hyeseung) and Soyoung, South Koreans in Whistler

June 8, 2021

Tell us about yourself

Tina (Mother): 20 years ago, I had my daughter and son in Korea and when I thought of a good environment for children to grow up, moving overseas was my option.  Whistler is one of the biggest ski resorts in North American, and also I love skiing, so I decided to move to Whistler. I was working in the engineering industry before moving to Canada, now I am a ski instructor.

Soyoung (Daughter): I came to Whistler when I was just one month old (yes I was that crying baby on the plane). I am extremely grateful I grew up in Whistler, the most beautiful place on earth!

 Last year, I graduated from high school and I am now going to UBC. When I was 13, I got my first job. Now I work as a ski instructor, and lifeguard.

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country? 

Tina: For a typical high school student in Canada, the official school day may end at 4 p.m. In Korea, however, even though school ends at 4pm as well, we would go to study rooms and study till 11 pm. The competition is fierce and the expectations from society are sky high.

In Canada there’s a lot less societal pressure. Korean parents have lots of expectations for their kids to study hard and lead a successful life. For me, I think my kids growing up in Canada was the best and healthiest option, where their growing years were spent outside of school enjoying life as well.

How do you think being Asian has influenced your life?

Soyoung: Even though I grew up in Canada, I was raised in a Korean household. I feel very grateful to have experienced two different cultures. It made a huge impact on my outlook on life. I am a lot more open, and always interested to try  new experiences and learn new cultures.

One thing that is very different is the food in Korea compared to the food here.

Korean food is amazing, it  tends to be intensely flavoured, spicy and extremely seasoned.  It also differs in many ways such as the tools they use to cook/eat with, cooking styles, and table manners.

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why? 

Tina: When Soyoung turned 1 year old, we had a child’s 1st birthday ceremony, Doljabi for her. The primary purpose of the ceremony is to bless the child with a prosperous future and a healthy life ahead.  There are various items or objects (Usually 3 – 5 items) placed in front of the child. Then, the child is encouraged to grab one or two items from the set of objects where each choice represents a certain future of the child with respect to his or her career or a lifestyle. I remember Soyoung grabbed a pencil and thread. Pencil believed she will study well.

What specific parts of your Asian heritage do you try to keep?

Soyoung: I love Korean food! We eat kimchi and rice every day, if not at every meal. It’s also common to have traditional Korean breakfast like rice, soup, and a full array of side dishes.

I also like the trends the younger generations in Korea are following,  Such as make-up, K- pop, and Korean movies. I share Korean culture with some of my non-Korean friends, and they like it as well!

 I try to speak as much Korean as I can to my family and other Koreans to not lose my Korean I worked hard to learn.  Up to when I was 14, my Korean was so bad that I couldn’t even hold a proper sentence… but my interest to Korean culture (and with the help of K- pop and K- drama) my Korean speaking dramatically improved.

There has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected you personally?

We never experienced any hate crimes against us personally. I (Soyoung) think social media reporting the hate crimes that are going around do make me feel very worried for my friends who live in more populated areas, like the city. 

Why is it important to recognize/celebrate Asian Heritage Month? This year?

Soyoung: This year, the celebration of Asian heritage feels especially important, because it allows us to acknowledge the rich history of Asian-Canadians and their contributions to Canada. I’m thankful for all the opportunities they have created for us.

We are in a multicultural country, the anti-Asian hate crimes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating. More than ever, we need to stand forward together against racism, and celebrate diversity in our communities.

Tina: I think it is a good way to offer Canadians an opportunity to know about Asian culture and history. Especially since we are living in Whistler; we have a better chance to build good relationships with people from different cultures.

Meet Qiang Sean Wang and Yuan Yuan Ren, Chinese in Whistler

May 31, 2021

Tell us about yourself

My name is Sean and my wife, Vanessa, and I are from Beijing, China. In the past decade or two, Beijing’s air pollution has soared to hazardous levels. For our children’s health and safety, we decided to move to Whistler in 2015. The reason we chose Whistler as our second home is when I studied and worked in Victoria and Vancouver years ago, I frequently visited Whistler and came to know it as a very cosmopolitan village. People from all over the world are here to ski and so on.

We all love skiing and Whistler is also a wonderful place to raise kids.

I (Sean) had been an engineer and taught information engineering for a few years in Canada and Hong Kong before changing my career to investment banking, venture capital and entrepreneur in Hong Kong and China. My wife (Vanessa) was a dance teacher and choreographer in China.

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country? 

We’ve been impressed by the fact that Canadians love outdoor activities and nature so much! We share that passion, and are  doing more outdoor sport than before, such as water surfing, biking, and skiing…We also feel everyone is more appreciative of nature, especially in Whistler.

We realized that, in general, people here are more patient than those in Beijing in terms of the pace of life and work. In Beijing, everything moves at a fast pace: buildings come up pretty quickly, services are express, etc. In Canada, people are more polite, soft-spoken, more willing to spend time in listening to each other.

We miss Chinese food all the time. In Beijing, it is more often than not to eat out than to cook at home. However, we think Whistler is a good change for Vanessa. It forces her to practice how to cook Chinese food. Now, she is a better cook than before! (said Sean…).

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep?

Language: Mandarin Chinese is not only the world’s most spoken language with over one billion native speakers, it is also the most spoken language in the country with the second-largest economy in the world. We also believe Chinese language reflects Chinese culture and traditions. To understand Mandarin will make it easy to get to know Chinese culture. Various grammars and words reflect the way Chinese people think.

Chinese food: We usually like to share delicacies we cooked with family and friends. Westerners usually enjoy individual servings.

Chinese music: not just the classic Chinese music, we also listen to Chinese pop music. When we listen to Chinese pop songs that we grew up with, they bring back fond memory of our past. We also like poetic words of some Chinese songs. They can create powerful emotions.

There has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected you personally?

We heard one incidence from one of our friends who is originally from Singapore. He has experienced being told “go back to China” as recently as after the mountain had to shut down again due to the COVID case increase.

In our opinion, there is no place for hate crimes in this country. Canada is a country of immigrants; there are over 20% of people who are the first generation immigrants led by Asian. Asians are not just people from China! We are all human beings in this global village and we just look somewhat different. Why would someone hate a person over his/her skin colour or look?

When immigrants move to Canada, they also bring with them their rich heritage, cultural and religious. That has made Canada a multicultural society.

Why is it important to recognize/celebrate Asian Heritage Month? This year?

Last night I was watching a YouTube video about “Top 10 best countries to live in the world for 2020”. Canada is among them and one of the reasons is “being one of the most peaceful countries in the world”.  So yes, I think to celebrate Asian heritage month, especially this year, is important. It may help to stop the increasing Asian hate crimes.

Cultural exchange can promote a new level of awareness for Canadians who may not yet know about various cultures immigrants bring with them, and lead to an understanding that we are all more similar than different.

We are all learning from history and one day we will all be the history. If we do our small parts in a great way, people in the future will learn from us. If we don’t do anything now, and let the hate crimes to continue, we are not only wasting our spot in the history but also leaving a worse place for our children.

Meet Eva, Indonesian in Pemberton

May 31, 2021

Tell us about yourself

I am originally from Indonesia. I met my husband while he was traveling to Indonesia. In 1996, I moved to Pemberton because of marriage. I was a travel agent back home, after move to Pemberton, I am working at the Pemberton Valley Lodge as a lot of different roles.

There is a funny story when I came to Canada. I never travel overseas before I come to Canada. I don’t know I should adjust my clothes depends on where I am traveling to. You won’t believe it; I was wearing my nicest dress with high heel when I just arrive Pemberton. I was so excited and don’t even felt cold!

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country? 

The way you received your wage is different. Back home, we got pay per month, no overtime pay. In Canada is pay bi-weekly, and you usually received overtime pay for work.

Indonesian has a lot of different religion; Religion in Indonesia majority is moslem (Islam), minority: Christian, Catholic, Hindu, Buddies and Confucianism. In Bali, for example, the dominant religion is Hinduism, and there are localities where there are more Christians than Muslims.

Indonesia is large country, 17.000 thousand island big and small surroundings by water (sea), we have 714 tribe and 1100 languages but our national language is Indonesia. Different tribe’s different culture so we just have to respect each other. Canada is my second home, Canada also beautiful. I work as like others and I like where I work right now.

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep?

My husband is Swiss – Canadian, bread is important for him as like rice is important for me. I am not the person who like to eat sandwich night time after all day work I prefer cooking for my dinner and the easy food to cook when you tired is rice, but not every night I have to eat rice I have to tolerance with other food.

I often introduce Indonesian food for my guest at home as like satay with peanut sauce, Nasi goreng etc.

There has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected you personally?

In my opinion this is unfair to hate Asian people just because COVID-19 start in Asia.

No body want to get this pandemic, no one wants to die because of this pandemic and people shouldn’t point finger to Asian people. How about when this pandemic start in somewhere else? European or Canada? think about it before point finger.

Why is it important to recognize/celebrate Asian Heritage Month? This year?

Yes, I think it’s important to share and celebrate Asian Heritage Month. It’s important to do culture share to our community.

There are a lot of people traveling to Asia country before pandemic, there have world’s oldest cultures, fascinating architecture, beautiful natural landscapes, delicious foods and friendly locals; they are interested at colorful Asia culture so they traveling around Asia. This is culture share!

I also think life is beautiful; we should spend our time in nice things. It may not always be comfortable and joyful. But it always manages to surprise us and to provide us with exciting opportunities for growth.

Meet Narintip, Thai massage therapist

May 28, 2021

Tell us about yourself

I am Narintip Thilajai (Pui), from Thailand. I have moved to Canada since 2011 because of marriage. I am a massage therapist back home, now I am working at the spa at Four Seasons Resort, Westin Avello spa and Whistler Day Spa as a massage therapist and Embarc Whistler as a housekeeper.

I have one daughter and one son who come to Canada with me, so I am a busy working mom!

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country? 

Growing up in an Asian family, you need to take care of all the family members, not just my parents. In Canada, most of the parents don’t need financial support from their children. Children left their parents’ house after 18years old. When elderly parents can’t care for themselves, they will be move into an aged care center. 

The reason I am still supporting my family back home is because there are no free doctor, no free school in Thailand. The pay in Thailand is not enough to support them to buy textbook, school uniform, bus…

In Thailand, after marriage, husband and wife are doing financial plan together or sharing expenses. In Canada, this doesn’t happen to most of the family. People have their personal finance.

Language, food, traditions, religious, and culture are different depends on which region you are coming from. There are 71 living languages, with the majority of people speaking languages of the Southwestern Tai family, and the national language being Thai. The traditional recipe for a rice dish would include as many as 30 varieties of rice.  

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep?

I don’t know many people from Thailand in Whistler, so I don’t do much home culture here. However, if I can, I would celebrate our biggest festival – Songkran (Thai New Year). Thai New Year starts from April 13. We celebrate the Songkran festival by splashing water over other people with a word of blessing.

I am from north of Thailand. 13 April is celebrated with gunfire or firecrackers to repel bad luck. On the next day, people prepare food and useful things to offer to the monks at the temple. People have to go to temple to make merit and bathe Buddha’s statue and after that they pour water on the hands of elders and ask for their blessings.

I am from country side of the north; each house in our community will have a potluck and drinks. We go to different houses, eating their home cooking, drink and celebrate New Year together.

There has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected you personally?

Before COVID-19 happened, my Filipino friend and I were waiting at the bus stop. Suddenly there was a drunk young man yelled something along the lines of, “I don’t like Filipino, I hate Filipino, why you are here.” We were so shocked that we decided to walk away and don’t want to start a fight.

People might think we are here to take over their job, sending money back home…but we are just here to seeking a better opportunity and life for us and still can support our family back home.

This is just my only hate crime experience for the past 10 years. Otherwise I feel safe in Whistler, because there are so many immigrants, people coming from different countries. Locals are nice to new comers, very friendly, open mind and always willing to help each other.

Why is it important to recognize/celebrate Asian Heritage Month? This year?

Yes, definitely! I think it’s nice if we can do culture share. I like to do Thai cooking culture sharing, I always have my friends over and we share each of our home culture, food share, and cooking together. There are all from different countries. If we do small things in a great way, other people will learn from us.

Meet Yaoki Sato, Japanese in Whistler

May 28, 2021

Tell us about yourself

I am from Japan and have been living in Whistler since 1997. One day, I saw a ski magazine which introduced backcountry skiing in Whistler Blackcomb. I want to learn and study more about backcountry skiing, so I moved to Whistler.

In Japan, I was a realtor.  After moving to Canada, I’ve been working different jobs, a tour guide for a Japanese travel agent, working in a Japanese restaurant, shuttle driver and ski rental associate.

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country? 

Living in Japan; In my opinion, most people are working hard for LIFE. In Canada, most of the people are working hard for pleasure and leisure. You will get a good work-life balance.

Japanese food is different between Canada and Japan. In Canada, we name Japanese food “Nihon shoku” (日本食). In Japan, we call Japanese food, Washoku (和食).  Nihon shoku is arranged in North America with Japanese cooking methods. We did not have inside out rolls like a California roll in Japan, but now we have. Some of Japanese food tastes light on purpose, but many North Americans like richer tastes, in that case Nihon shoku is made with a richer taste. Anyway, both of them taste good for me!

Relationships between friends, employee and employer, senior and young are pretty different. In Japan, the idea of respecting your elders has been clear since we were little, a firm hierarchical relationship is maintained in the workplace and in the team towards older employees and superiors. However, in Canada, regardless of age or position, everyone is more approachable with each other in the workplace or team. A characteristic feature is that they call each other by first name, even to seniors and bosses.  

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep?

I remember the first Hinamatsuri (雛祭り) after my daughter’s birth.  My mother-in-law sent us some Hina dolls (雛人形) to celebrate “girl’s day”.  Hinamatsuri means doll festival and for this reason it’s also known as Dolls’ Day. On 3rd of March, parents wish and pray for the healthy growth and happiness of their daughters.

We don’t usually wear shoes in the house. Traditionally, the Japanese eat meals sitting on tatami mats instead of chairs, and they roll out the futon to sleep on tatami floors. As we are very close to the floor, we usually take off our shoes for cleanliness.

There has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected you personally?

I have watched some anti-Asian news happening in Vancouver (city). Luckily nothing affected me and my family. Our family has tried to stay in Whistler after the pandemic started. Maybe it just does not happen to us because we do not see many people. However, last year, I was reading an article from Pique magazine and a hate crime happened to a local Japanese family in Whistler. This is very sad.

I understand in our culture, being Japanese, we tend to not speak out. But if it’s happened to my family, I don’t want to just walk away, I will try to talk to them (but not fight!) and understand why they said it.

I am also thinking when COVID just happened, social medias said the pandemic is happened in Wuhan, and most people also saw from the news saying Chinese government was hiding the pandemic information, so people (who are outside of Asia area) start thinking China government is not good, become Chinese people is not good, and then become Asian is not good. But this is not the right direction.

Why is it important to recognize/celebrate Asian Heritage Month? This year?

I am not too sure if this is the right way to do it. If we can share our food, culture with other people, they will probably like it or not like it. 

However, if we don’t do anything, I believe nothing will change or go slowly. I think it’s better we start doing something instead of doing nothing and waiting for other people to change their mind (Asian hate). Change is not just saying it, we need to actually do something. Otherwise, nothing will change.

Meet Sonia Dhaliwal, Canadian Indian

May 25, 2021

Tell us about yourself

My name is Sonia Dhaliwal and I grew up in an Indian family (Sikh). About 5 years ago, I was living in Vancouver, and looking for a change of scenery. I love snowboarding and I had always thought about moving to Whistler, so I finally did it. I have two jobs in Whistler: part time for The Keg (restaurant) and full time working remotely for BCIT.  A lot of this work involves projects related to employment, training and education, and career development. Much of my current work involves bringing BCIT education and training opportunities to our community here in Whistler, as well as working locally with Lil’wat Nation to provide training and awareness for employers around their culture, history and traditions. 

How do you think being Asian has influenced your life?

Growing up, I would sometimes go to the temple with my parents. Having a Sikh background has exposed me to spirituality and always having faith in the background of my life has impacted the person I am today, and I am thankful for that. If there is a wedding or any Punjabi style event, I wear Punjabi style clothing, make up, and a lot of jewelry, which is always fun!   

What specific parts of your Asian culture do you try to keep?

I am Canadian born, and I have Indian born parents. When I attend a family wedding or event, I will sometimes wear Punjabi styles clothes if the wedding is Punjabi style. The food and traditional celebrations are very relevant in my family. We follow the traditional events before and after a wedding.

Food is another thing we’ve kept. My mom always cooks a lot of delicious Indian food regularly, and during “Diwali.” During the Diwali, we see our family and friends, go to the temple, and houses are often lit up with candles.

Last but not least, my spiritual roots are something I keep close to my heart, even though I don’t go to temple often today. I think if there was a temple in Whistler, I’d visit more often.

There has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected you personally?

When I hear news related to Anti-Asian hate crimes, it brings me a lot of sadness and disappointment. Especially when I saw there were people being rude to elderly Chinese people. It hurts my heart and I wonder how this person would feel if the same was happening to their elderly grandparents.

We are all built the same on the inside as human beings. The differences between all of us is what we look like on the outside, where we come from, and our variety of cultures, traditions, and ways of living. And these varieties we have are beautiful and should be celebrated, not hated on.

Why is it important to recognize/celebrate Asian Heritage Month? This year?

I think it’s important to celebrate Asian Heritage Month, because we can share our beautiful cultures with everyone. We should celebrate our differences, not hate it. When sharing our culture, we can also educate people on different Asian heritages. For example, when someone says Asian, people commonly just think about one country, however this is not true. It’s the same with different skin tones. A white or lighter tone doesn’t mean a person is from the US or Canada, they might from Germany or England. A lot of people don’t realize there are so many different countries and cultures coming from Asia.

I believe we all have a lot of unconscious biases. One of the ways to bring these to light is to talk about the different cultural dynamics we have and celebrate all our differences, especially here in Whistler where we have such a diverse group of people living and working. 

Meet Mae Ann de Real, Filipina music teacher

May 25, 2021

Tell us about yourself

I was born in Paranaque City, Philippines. I was a Music teacher for Elementary and High School levels in few elite private schools and worked as a writer and Musical/Choir Director in few concerts in the Manila South area for schools and churches way back in the Philippines. I also did have a Music studio for tutorials.

My husband used to work in Disney Wonder Cruise ship based in Florida, USA for 3 yrs. as he started working when our son, Israel, was 8 months old till he’s 4 yrs of age. He decided to look for another job where he can be together with us. We prayed for guidance from God. At that time, my husband went home to the Philippines, Fairmont Chateau Whistler placed an ad for job opportunities in Canada for their preparations for the 2010 Winter Olympics. My husband applied there, and November 2007 was when he moved to Whistler, Canada. He thought of our need to adjust to the weather and snow so he moved to Squamish before he brought us here on Feb. 2011. On Oct. 2012, we moved to Pemberton and fell in love with this place.

I am so proud to have 2 more extended families in this place, my church: Good News Bible Assembly and the school I work with since January 2013 up to present: Xet’olacw Community School. I am currently a Music teacher from N-7 and HS. I also offer private piano, voice, violin and glockenspiel tutorials in my home business. (The Master’s Touch Piano Studio Pemberton).

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country?

Filipinos have great respect to elders and authorities as well as visitors. From a young age, kids are taught proper conduct and kind words to use. I find that Canadian kids are encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings at an early age. However, stressing the importance of using kind and appropriate words should also be encouraged and implemented not just in school but in the home first and foremost.

Filipinos are religious people. Although Christianity is the majority belief, there are a few different ones we have. It has been a tradition to attend church not just once a week but more often. Here, there is only 1 service on a Sunday and 1 bible study a week.

Transit availability is minimal. In Pemberton, there are 2 trips in both morning and afternoon. Whereas in the Philippines, it’s 24 hrs. There are different types of public transportation including cabs.

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why?

We have raised our son to always keep his faith in God, as He is the one who directs our lives according to His plan. We never want our son to forget who he is: a Filipino. So, speaking our native language is still exercised at home or whenever. Being respectful at all times and a peace lover is really important. Spending time with the family should always be special. As Filipinos are known to be music lovers, we love to sing in karaoke machines or even from YouTube with a mic. 

There has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected you personally?

I believe that “Hate Crime’s” root is ignorance or lack of knowledge of other cultures. If people are not exposed to other cultures and don’t understand them, it can be difficult for them to appreciate differences. Exclusion rather than inclusion, and harm to others, can be the result. 

Why is it important to recognize/celebrate Asian Heritage Month? This year?

This draws the need to feature and celebrate different cultures’ uniqueness and contributions to the community to create awareness and educate everyone that even in our differences; we can work together towards the betterment of our communities, and countries respectively.

I am so thankful for all the efforts that Whistler Multicultural Network headed by Carole Stretch has been doing. Aside from celebrating and showcasing each culture, we all feel safe, informed and guided as we get to commune with other nationalities. Thank you so much for everything!

Meet Mohammed Al Jamous, Syrian mountain-lover

May 19, 2021

Tell us about yourself

I am from Syria and have been in Whistler for about  2.5 years. I came to Canada seeking a better opportunity and to explore this beautiful country. It has been great, got more into skiing and mountain biking and I love it. Right now, I have 2 jobs where I am working as a tour guide for Ziptrek Ecotours and another job with Whistler Multicultural Society helping with outreach and marketing. 

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country?

The food is definitely different. There are not many options for Eastern food in Whistler, so I try my best to make food at home (for example, I make my own hummus, baba ganoush and it tastes very good). However it’s hard to get some ingredients in Whistler. Sometimes I need to travel to Vancouver to get it. Weather is different, in Syria it is dry and hot in summer, rain and cold in winter. It does not snow as much as in Whistler, but the snow here is amazing because I love skiing!

 A lot of system, procedures are pretty similar but there are some differences. . Like driving, there are a lot of curvy mountain roads. More uphill and downhill roads.  Education, health systems are different.

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why?

Music (Jamous said it immediately)! I always listen to some Arabic music in the morning (especially Fairouz), music is like time travel, you cannot take your body to a certain place but definitely you can take your soul somewhere else, and I think music helps with that. 

There has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected you personally?

First all, when we talk about Asian, most people will think of China, Japan or Korea. Not many people know that Syria is also part of Asia. Because of how I look people think I am from South America or somewhere in Europe, but I am not. I think hearing about it and watching the news, reading reports, makes you feel upset, you may start to question, am I going to be the next person to encounter a hate crime?

It definitely makes people feel unsafe and uncomfortable and no one should ever experience something like that because we are all the same. But definitely racism is like a disease hard to get rid of. I hope that the people who have some hate in their life replace it with love because everyone deserves to feel safe and welcome. 

Why is it important to recognize/celebrate Asian Heritage Month? This year?

Yes, it’s important especially for this year, due to the pandemic and the increase of hate crimes against Asians. We can use this opportunity to showcase the cultures, food, and arts to other regions. This event can create a lot of activities and diversity to our community. Immigrants and Asian Canadian will feel more welcome and that will create more harmony in the society (Canada). 

Meet Hannyliz Villafuerte, Filipina vlogger

May 18, 2021

Tell us about yourself

I am Hannyliz Villafuerte from Philippines. Back home, I was a bank bookkeeper and I managed my parents’ restaurant and catering business in our island. In Whistler, I am a banquet captain server of Fairmont, and a YouTube Vlogger (Hannyliz Villafuerte in Canada).

In 2007, my sister accepted a job in Fairmont Chateau Whistler. In 2008, Fairmont Chateau Whistler also hired me for the upcoming world event-2010 Olympics.

Conference industries have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so I was laid off. When I started processing my application for the Covid-19 support benefits, I realized it is not easy especially for someone who is doing it for the first time like me. So, I shared every step of my application for CERB /EI benefits with my friends through YouTube videos. A lot of people reached out to me (not just Filipinos) to say thank you for the video so I kept posting videos to respond to questions on about anything that can help during the pandemic.

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country?

Hugging and kissing cheeks for greetings; growing up, I have not really noticed anybody hug a person for a greeting especially a gentleman greeting a lady. We are very conservative, so this was really a pleasant surprise.  

Addressing your Boss and anybody older than you in their first name; back home, addressing your Boss in their first name is disrespectful.  It should be Sir, Mam/Miss. And anybody older than us should be called Ate/Tita (older women), Kuya/Tito (older men), never in his or her first name.

Bringing food / drink to a party; in Philippines, when you attend a party, you go empty handed, except gifts (if it’s a birthday, wedding, or any kind of celebration that needs gifts).  If it is just a family dinner, or any informal dinner party or picnic you are invited to, we don’t really bring any food or drink as the host is expected to provide everything for the party. The only time we bring a food/drink to a party is when it is organized as like bring your own provision (BYOP) Party / Potluck Party.

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why?

Placing the back of an older Family member’s hand in the forehead of the younger members of the family “Mano”. This is Filipino tradition that expresses our highest regards for the elders. Though living in Canada gives children more freedom to make their own decisions, I believe our children should still maintain that understanding and acceptance that parents and relatives will offer their suggestions. Because they wish what’s best for you. 

Children don’t need to agree to their opinions, but just understand, and remember to never raise their voice to the elders, to take care of them ‘till they die, and to always be polite. That is why you bow your head when you “Mano” to show your outmost respect for that person. Kids also “Mano” to their parents’ close friends; friends they consider family. We also consider anybody that can be traced to the same Great Grandparents as family. Family needs to support, take care of each of other, and be present in each other’s life especially when we are far away from home

There has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected you personally?

I am a victim of an overt racist attack in Whistler.

Last December, there were unexpected comments in one of my posts. After a few minutes, a racist, messaged me via Facebook. This really hurt me because this attack came after I was trying to help. It felt like I was ridiculed for thinking I have anything else to offer besides serving these racists. (watch here for more details) 

This experience made me feel scared and upset. I have seen subtle racism before but an overt attack hits hard to the core.

I don’t imagine anyone to understand that it feels so threatening when you get attacked in your private space. I realized that this pandemic has probably added the hate for Asians more than the usual racist reasons. I am really careful now. I don’t walk alone anywhere, and I don’t allow my kid to be on her own anywhere. It is a scary world out there especially hearing and seeing on the news all these hate crimes against Asians.

Why is it important to recognize/celebrate Asian Heritage Month? This year?

I think this year, more than ever, it is important to recognize / celebrate the Asian Heritage Month to spread awareness of the Asian culture, their contributions to their local communities, and their thoughts and feelings. If they get to know the Asians, acceptance will hopefully follow. I think that because they don’t understand or don’t know why we do/see things differently, they just label us strange or inferior. Sometimes it is easier to categorize something we don’t understand as wrong or strange and just think less of it.

I hope that learning about our beliefs, our heart, and our contributions to the community will make them see beyond the color of our skin, our English proficiency, and physical attributions. And my God stop this stupidity that we brought the virus to this country. Asians regard their families as their greatest wealth and position; they would never do anything that will endanger their families. This virus is killing Asians too. We are not immune to this virus.

Meet Ruby Jiang, Chinese realtor in Whistler

May 17, 2021

Tell us about yourself

I am from China and immigrated to Vancouver in 2006. I became a real estate agent in Vancouver in 2007, and I helped clients purchase properties in Whistler since 2010. I joined a Whistler local real estate company in 2013. That was how I got more chance coming up to Whistler. Whistler reminded me back home my childhood in China and I always love the scenic beauty of the mountains.  I decided to move to Whistler after my son went to university and have been here for over 4 years.

How is Canadian culture/life different from your home country?

In Chinese culture, you can always heard “Harmony comes first” (以和為貴 ). Chinese people commonly link “conflict” with “turmoil” and thus tend to dislike direct conflict and even avoid it out of fear or do not want to be bothered on it. In here, I realize that we would not get respect or appreciation by yielding or running away from issues. People believe that you give up only because you feel you don’t deserve it, not because of your seeking for a harmony with the society.  People here speak out to strive for the thing they believe in, and luckily, they have good chance to win from there fight.  

Child education shows some difference too. I realized that the western parents give their children more opportunities to make their own decisions. Asian parents are more tend to make decisions on behalf of their children  and we always convince to ourselves that it is for the benefit of their children. We as Asian parents need practice how to listen to our kids.

Which parts of your home culture do you try to keep (in Canada), and why?

Language. My son is 24 years old and I believe it’s critical that he communicate with me in Chinese language. Without the mother tongue, no heritage of a culture would be possible, not mention the difficult for our kids to communicate with other family members back home.

Festival.   We have many festivals in Chinese culture.  Most of the festivals back home are related to family.  One isn’t well known here but is very important is the Tomb Sweeping Day ( 清明節).  Family join together to worship and remember our ancestors and report to them the improvement and blessing the family received( usually more good than bad things).  While visiting the tombs of our passed ancestors, parents share family stories with younger generations to help them remember the family tree.  The Tomb Sweeping day is also a good time for family’s spring hiking as it is on April 5th.

Food, Confucius said it 2500 years ago: “If it’s not in season, I won’t eat it.” Back home, we eat different vegetable in the 24 Chinese seasons. Couple days ago, I called my father through WeChat video at my dinner time to show off that we have fresh broad bean ( or some people call it horse bean) here in Canada. It was my father’s lunch time and he was eating the same thing at the same time! How wonderful, we are thousand miles away! Connections through “food” are also unbreakable in our culture.

There has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that affected you personally?

Although most of us might not have the experience, in fact, Anti-Asian racism has been around for quite a bit longer than just the past 14 months. I didn’t pay much attention on this type of issue until the recently Stop Asian Hate movement. I read an article online about “Why I’m speaking out against anti-Asian hate”.   It’s sad to know that there are many people had these experience and are still suffering and carrying heavy burdens of being bullied and hurt in different ways. I will give no tolerance if it happens to me or my Asian friends around.

Why is it important to recognize/celebrate Asian Heritage Month? This year?

Asian Heritage Month is to remind the incredible contributions and achievements of people of Asian descent who have helped shape Canada. People forget things without being reminded regularly. All those contributions should be remembered and be grateful.

Happy Eid & Happy Ramadan - what are they and what's the difference?

May 12, 2021

Let’s start with Ramadan as it comes first before Eid al-Fitr!

Ramadan is the month of fasting for all Muslims around the world. According to Wikipedia: “Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting (sawm), prayer, reflection and community”.

Ramadan fasting is considered safe for healthy individuals; although it may have some risks for individuals with certain pre-existing conditions. Most Islamic scholars say that fasting is not required for those who are ill, and the elderly and pre-pubertal children are exempt.

Common greetings during Ramadan include Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Kareem, which mean (have a) “blessed Ramadan” and “generous Ramadan” respectively.

When Muslims are fasting, they do not eat or drink from dawn to sunset, yes, not even water. You can prepare for the day by eating a meal before sunrise and you break your fast when the sun sets. The pre-dawn meal is referred to as Suhoor, and the nightly feast that breaks the fast is called Iftar.

It is very common that in Ramadan people invite each other to exchange meals. It happens on so many levels where neighbors exchange meals as a sort of gesture of support and caring. Also, family members would gather at least once a week at the parents’ house to have Iftar (nightly feast that breaks the fast).

During Ramadan in the Middle East, a Mesaharati beats a drum across a neighborhood to wake people up to eat the Suhoor meal. In Southeast Asia, the Kentongan slit drum is used for the same purpose.

The spiritual rewards of fasting are believed to be multiplied during Ramadan. As a result, Muslims refrain not only from food and drink, but also tobacco products, sexual relations, and sinful behavior, devoting themselves instead to salat (prayer) and recitation of the Quran.

There are actually several benefits to fasting. These include increased insulin sensitivity and reduced insulin resistance. Research has shown that there is a significant improvement in the 10 year coronary heart disease risk score. Improvements are also seen in other cardiovascular risk factors such as lipids profile, systolic blood pressure, weight, BMI and waist circumference in subjects with a previous history of cardiovascular disease. The fasting period is usually associated with modest weight loss, but weight can return afterwards.

The holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal, the next lunar month, is declared after a crescent new moon has been sighted or after completion of thirty days of fasting if no sighting of the moon is possible. Eid celebrates the return to a more natural disposition (fitra) of eating, drinking, and marital intimacy.

Traditionally, Eid al-Fitr begins at sunset on the night of the first sighting of the crescent moon. If the moon is not observed immediately after the 29th day of the previous lunar month (either because clouds block its view or because the western sky is still too bright when the moon sets), then the holiday is celebrated the following day.

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated for one to three days, depending on the country. It is forbidden to fast on the Day of Eid, and a specific prayer is nominated for this day. As an obligatory act of charity, money is paid to the poor and the needy (Arabic: Zakat-ul-fitr) before performing the ‘Eid prayer.

People celebrate Eid al-Fitr by wearing new clothes, making a lot of desserts and nice meals. Adults give kids money so they can celebrate the end of the month, and families go visit each other and exchange gifts and greetings.

Celebrating Asian Heritage Month

May 4, 2021

So many immigrants from Asia have chosen to make Whistler and Pemberton their home – bringing our communities a rich cultural heritage representing many languages, ethnicities and religious traditions.

Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated across Canada since the 1990s and Whistler Multicultural Society is using this opportunity to showcase local people of Asian heritage, to share their stories and celebrate their place in our communities.

Who comes from Asia?

‘Asian’ describes people from a very large part of the world…. Did you know there are 6 regions of Asia?

*North Asia – Russia (most of Siberia and the northeastern edges of the continent)

*Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan.

*West Asia (The Middle East or Near East) includes… Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

*South Asia includes… Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.

*East Asia – China, Hong Kong, Japan, North Korea, Mongolia, South Korea, Taiwan.

*Southeast Asia – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

 How are we celebrating Asian Heritage Month?

Whistler Multicultural Society is spending the month interviewing locals from different Asian countries who have chosen Whistler, Pemberton and the Sea to Sky as their home. We’ll be having a conversation with each to explore their home culture, how they have adapted to local life, what aspects of their heritage they keep here in Canada, and how recent events have impacted them.

Want to know more about our local Asian immigrant’s journey to Whistler, Pemberton, and our region?  Watch this space; we are going to share with you stories of our local Asian immigrants.

Canapes Around the World

July 1, 2019

Back in November 2018, Whistler Multicultural Network was given an opportunity to showcase multicultural food at the annual Community Foundation of Whistler (CFOW) reception. Our chef, Petr, from the Czech Republic chose 6 types of canapes from 3 different countries: Japan, Spain and the Czech Republic.

The prep team and serving teams, made of our Whistler Multicultural Network members, worked very hard to make this catering opportunity a huge success. Everyone loved the colorful, tasty and diverse food! One event participant and community member was so impressed that he decided to donate to CFOW just because of the food we offered. Isn’t it amazing?!

Below you will find a recipe from Spain.

Recipe for the Sun dried tomatoes jam (Spain) for crostini.



Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1/3 of tablespoon of the reserved sun-dried tomato oil, olive oil, onion, and garlic. Stir and cook until the onions are soft and beginning to brown at the edges, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the sugar, vinegar, water, chicken broth, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue simmering until most of the liquid is reduced and the mixture is the consistency of jam, about 5 to 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.