Every May, Halifax Public Libraries takes the opportunity to celebrate Asian Heritage Month by programming several events to capture the many stories and cultural contributions of the city’s Asian community.
This year however, organizers had to pivot rather quickly when the provincial government suddenly locked down all live events and public gatherings due to COVID-19.
“This year, when we thought we’d be open, we wanted to make sure that we had events happening in the branch that were safe and enjoyable for the customers,” says Dacia MacDonald, the lead librarian for the programming team behind Asian Heritage Month. “But that had to all be scaled back last minute.”
Although organizers had a sense restrictions were coming, they only found out the extent of the measures on April 22 when the rest of the public did. As such, Halifax Public Libraries quickly adapted their in-branch ceremonies into an online celebration.
“It just required us to do a little bit of retooling,” says MacDonald. “We’re always celebrating culture at the library but we’re really happy this month to spend a little bit of extra time focusing on Asian culture and contributions.”
Drawing from members of various library branches as well external cultural groups, MacDonald’s team is proud to present a variety of Asian Heritage Month virtual events throughout the month of May through the Halifax Public Libraries website.
With everything from blogs about films and Filipino tinikling dances to cooking demonstrations and Zoom trivia, MacDonald and her team have devised a diverse set of regularly updated programs that will help showcase a range of Asian cultures.
Among the highlights of Asian Heritage Month will be a KPop trivia event on May 22. For participants who want to test their knowledge about South Korea’s popular musical genre, this fun event will be hosted on Zoom for registered participants.
“It’s popular and people love it so we made sure it was part of the line-up,” says MacDonald, adding people will be able to submit answers through a Kahoot link on their device. “It’s a tool or app that they use to showcase the trivia and then people log in to the event and play and then prizes are given out.”
Staying with the KPop theme, the library will also feature what’s described as a Polco Party.
“Apparently, it’s a very cool thing,” says MacDonald about the trend of decorating polaroids of KPop artists with stickers. “This is a craft program (so) people get together online to decorate their little pictures and display them in their space — it’s just a fun thing to do.”
Those interested in the Polco Party can register to obtain a free polco kit, which includes a polaroid of a KPop artist, stickers and other supplies in order to participate in the party through Zoom on May 26.
For those more interested in capturing the flavours of Asian culture, the library is also hosting a couple of Asian cooking events including a tasty spicy shrimp peanut noodles demonstration and a virtual Zoom class featuring the Dumpling Divas.
“They are very good at what they do and their dumplings are delicious,” says MacDonald, adding the one-hour class on May 21 will showcase Rui Nickerson and Jessica Zhang as they make vegetarian dumplings from scratch in order to “show the community how to do it.”
There will be several other events being added throughout May to the library’s website as well, including storytime events, reading lists and a panel discussion called Amplifying Asian Voices on May 27, which will serve as an important showcase for the challenges and contributions of the Asian experience in Nova Scotia.
“We reflect the community that we serve and we really want the community to see themselves in their public library to ensure it’s a welcoming space,” adds MacDonald about why the Halifax Public Libraries takes a significant role in celebrating Asian Heritage Month. “We have a large Asian population (and) we just want to make sure that people feel embraced and this is a way to do it.”
For more information on the Halifax Public Libraries' virtual celebration for Asian Heritage Month, visit their website.