Today’s Doodle celebrates the birthday of Canadian activist, community organizer, poet, author, editor, photographer, radio producer, and historian Jim Wong-Chu, who devoted his life to amplifying the narratives of the Asian Canadian community.
Born in Hong Kong, Jim came to Canada in 1953 as a paper son. He studied photography and design at the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art + Design) from 1975-1981 and also studied Creative Writing at UBC from 1985-1987. As one of the main founders of the Asian Canadian Writer’s Workshop, he was instrumental in creating its magazine, Ricepaper, and establishing its Emerging Writer Award. He also helped found the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society/explorAsian and literASIAN: A Festival of Pacific Rim Asian Canadian Writing. His photography and poetry have been widely anthologized and he is the author of Chinatown Ghosts, a collection of poetry, and co-editor of the groundbreaking anthologies Many-Mouthed Birds: Contemporary Writing by Chinese Canadians, Swallowing Clouds: An Anthology of Chinese-Canadian Poetry, and Strike the Wok: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Canadian Fiction.
Jim’s special gift was his ability to knit together diverse communities from grassroots community activists to university researchers across multiple generations. Endlessly curious about diasporic histories, he was always concerned about encouraging and supporting the current and future generations of writers and artists. He donated his papers to UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections in 2013, creating one of the most valuable archival collections available on Asian North American culture.