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Big Fight in Little Chinatown: Film Screening and Panel Discussion – SOLD OUT

Why do neighbourhoods such as Chinatown and Punjabi Market matter?

June 5, 2023
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

at UBC Robson Square (map)


About the Event

Big Fight in Little Chinatown opened the 2023 DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver during May’s Asian Heritage Month, and will be available for a FREE screening on June 5th at UBC Robson Square. This event is hosted by EYESTEELFILM and UBC’s Centre for Asian Canadian Research and Engagement (ACRE), and will feature a panel discussion following the film with the director, Karen Cho, and other UBC and community experts.

Reflecting on the film, the panel discussion will explore culturally significant neighbourhoods in Vancouver such as Chinatown and Punjabi Market as landscapes that are brought alive through the activities of everyday life and cultural experiences that tie people to their heritage. As our city continues to grow and face development pressures, how should we honour and sustain – including through policy approaches – the intimate connections these places have with the social history and living heritage in these communities?


All across the globe, Chinatowns are under threat of disappearing – and along with them, the rich history of communities who fought from the margins for a place to belong. Set against the backdrop of the unfolding COVID pandemic and an unprecedented rise in anti-Asian racism, Big Fight in Little Chinatown documents the collective fight to save Chinatowns across North America.

Coast to Coast the film follows Chinatown communities resisting active erasure. From the construction of the world’s largest vertical jail in New York, Montreal’s fight against developers swallowing up the most historic block of their Chinatown, big box chains and gentrification forces displacing Toronto’s community, to a legacy Chinatown business holding steadfast in Vancouver, Big Fight in Little Chinatown is the story of community resistance and resilience in a neighbourhood under pressure.


Event Schedule

6:00 PM – Doors open, light food and refreshments will be available

6:30 PM – Program begins, welcome remarks

6:45 PM – Film screening

8:15 PM – Panel discussion, audience Q&A

9:00 PM – Program ends



Dr. JP Catungal is an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice and Academic Co-Lead of the Centre for Asian Canadian Research and Engagement at the University of British Columbia. Trained at the nexus of critical human geography and intersectional feminist and queer theorizing, his research, teaching and public facing work concern community organizing and cultural production for and by migrant, racialized and LGBTQ+ communities, and is informed by his own experiences as a queer, first generation Filipinx migrant. He was co-editor of the volume “Filipinos in Canada: Disturbing Invisibility”. 

Karen Cho (曹嘉伦) is a Chinese-Canadian filmmaker known for her socio-political documentaries. Karen’s first film In the Shadow of Gold Mountain (2004) explored the legacy of the Chinese Head Tax, Exclusion Act and redress movement. Karen’s other films include the Gemini-Nominated Seeking Refuge (2009) a film on refugees in Canada and Status Quo? The Unfinished Business of Feminism in Canada (2012) that won Best Documentary at the Whistler Film Festival and launched in over 67 community screenings across the country. Karen’s TV work has touched on subjects like Indigenous health and wellness, Japanese Canadian internment, Quebecois cuisine, Vancouver’s downtown east side, and artist activists around the world. In 2018 Karen was nominated for a Best Directing Canadian Screen Award for her work on CBC’s Interrupt This Program.    

Bill Yuen is the Executive Director of Heritage Vancouver Society. Bill is dedicated to an understanding and practice of heritage that is centered on people and their ways of living and experiencing. He is committed to how diverse public memories, social histories, rituals and meanings of place can be better understood, experienced and appreciated through the environment around us.  

Jag Nagra (she/her) is a queer visual artist who is passionate about community development and ending the stigma against LGBTQ+ people within the South Asian community. She focuses her art practice on concepts that depict a sense of confidence and fearlessness—she unapologetically celebrates darker skin tones and South Asian garments and motifs.  Her artworks have been acquired by the Museum of Vancouver for their permanent collection and she has been featured in the multi-award winning internationally acclaimed LGBTQ+ documentary Emergence: Out of the Shadows. She is currently serving as the Vice Chair of Vancouver’s Punjabi Market Collective.  Through art, she has found her voice and a new appreciation for her culture and identity. 

Stephanie Leo is 3rd generation Chinese-Canadian. Having grown up in a multi-generational home in East Vancouver, she identifies closely with her family’s Toisan heritage and language. Stephanie was co chair of the former City of Vancouver’s Legacy Stewardship Group. Stephanie has engaged with Chinatown residents, businesses, and other community stakeholders, toward a common goal of safe-guarding the culture and heritage of Vancouver’s Chinatown, and supporting its vulnerable living community. This collaboration has culminated in the revival of the Fire Dragon Festival and support for many LSG projects now captured within the city’s Cultural Heritage Asset Management Plan. Her hope is to continue to contribute to creating a resilient and welcoming neighbourhood that will foster rich connections between the Chinatown of her grandparents and the Chinatown she will shape for her own 3 kids.  

Gurleen Cheema is the Director of Education of Vancouver’s Punjabi Market Collective. As a second-generation Punjabi-Canadian, Gurleen joined the INSTRCC team to better understand the common structural barriers faced by Asian Canadians. Inspired by her diverse and multigenerational upbringing in Surrey, Gurleen has a passion for community-based storytelling and has been involved in oral history work with the Punjabi community in BC. She currently conducts South Asian Health research, and is Director of Education at the Punjabi Market Collective. She enjoys drinking coffee, attending yoga classes, and reading a good book!

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