Author Archives: Angela Ho

Welcoming our new AA duo, Amanda & Angela!

Hua is recharging its batteries!


Amanda and Angela make up our new summer AA duo, who bring with them their passion for digital storytelling, youth empowerment, and community building.They are looking forward to exploring themes relating to culture and identity in their respective projects, while engaging with different community partners, both in Chinatown and beyond.

As the Chinatown Storytelling Coordinator, Amanda will be working closely with Chinatown Today to curate stories and educational pieces relating to Chinatown’s past, present and future. Meanwhile, as the Chinatown Food Security Coordinator, Angela will be building upon her work with hua’s food security research last summer, and managing our seasonal community partnerships. Keep an eye out for new connections, stories, and publications over the course of this summer.

Check out their individual bios on hua’s staff page here, and look out for more updates in the near future!

Summer recap: Our experience working at hua!

And just like that, 14 wonderful weeks of working at hua have come and gone. This summer has been an incredibly memorable and humbling experience for us, full of new connections, laughter, and personal growth. Where do we even begin?

We kicked off our internship with an ambitious plan for the summer, – among some of the things planned were cooking workshops, a new bite-sized web series, and potential(!) raft tour with the Gold Mountain Tour Initiative. Little did we realize, there was a lot more in store for us.
2016-07-09 14.52.25Our Summer Workshop Series brought friends, allies and new faces together to learn, cook, and bond over delicious, homemade food. We also piloted shopping tours in Chinatown to compliment the cooking workshops, and found that many of our workshop participants enjoyed learning how to shop at our local greengrocers and dry-goods stores in the neighbourhood. Our Choi Identification blog posts also complemented these efforts for those who haven’t been able to join us in person. During our workshops, we discovered that there is a strong interest amongst our audiences to explore cultural knowledge gaps. We were able to do so under the direction of Auntie Julia who taught her tips and tricks as we shared stories about family, culture and identity, all the while finding the sense of belonging that we’ve been searching for.

IMG_2121Working in such a unique space, we were presented with many opportunities to dive deeper into what it means to be Chinese-Canadian. We collaborated with hua foundation board member Jackie Wong to write about the intersections between our intercultural identities, intergenerational conflict and involvement in progressive communities (editorials coming out soon, keep an eye out!) We also supported the Gold Mountain Tour Initiative while learning about the important history and legacy of Chinese miners in BC and spoke at Roundhouse Radio about our lived experiences as Chinese-Canadian youth.


As we wrap up our time here at hua foundation, we’d like to reflect on the highlights of what we’ve learned and the lessons that we’ll take with us into the future.

  1. Breaking the status quo: hua foundation’s name has many roots, one of which refers to the Chinese word “變化” (m: biànhuà / c: bin3faa3). Embedded in both its vision and its approach, hua foundation is changing the game by opening up new spaces for conversations around what it means to value intercultural presence and people. These spaces are important for intercultural youth such as ourselves to engage in critical self reflection and connect with people just like us.
  2. Building community, intentionallyThe hua community tapestry is woven from a plethora of threads made up of individuals, families, community groups, businesses, and networks who share similar and yet unique life experiences. It was easy for us to take the bigger picture for granted at first, but we realized over time that the intentionality behind every thread of colour, conversation, and connection within the hua community has imbued it with a special feeling of family and belonging. While the time we’ve spent working at hua might has been short, both of us feel an undeniable sense of home here at the office and in Chinatown.
  3. Intercultural awareness – what exists around and before us: We have always been living interculturally, even before we stepped foot at hua. However, it was only through the work and conversations that we’ve shared together that we’ve come to realize its implications for our identities and day-to-day lives. Where we used to feel confusion and shame, today we feel a sense of confidence and pride that we will take forward with us instead. Our new sense of interculturalism has grounded us and will shape our future endeavours to come.

IMG_0859We are so incredibly grateful for our families, peers, community allies, hf board, hua staff, friends both old and new. Thank you for the sea of change and learning you’ve inspired in both of us. We’ll be back for more before you know it!

From your AA team,

Alan & Angela


Choi Identification: Local Tong Choi (本地白骨通菜)

Water spinach, water morning glory, Chinese watercress…these are just a few of the names that this week’s featured choi is known as! We know it best as tong choi, a nutty and tender vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes. This week, we found a great deal for tong choi at Jia Mei Market, one of Chinatown’s major green grocers.

IMG_0192 Our local green grocers referred to tong choi as ong choy or “白骨通菜” (pronounced as baak gwat tong choi in Cantonese and bái tōng cài in Mandarin), with the the first two characters “白骨,” referring to the white variety of 通菜 that is grown. Translated directly, these characters literally mean white bone! With that being said, tong choi is more simply known as 通菜” (c: tung choi m: tōng cài). The Chinese name for tong choi is quite fitting, as “通” can mean open or [the ability to] pass through, which which is an accurate description of the hollow stalks that this vegetable is known for! In Mandarin, tong choi is also known as 空心菜 literal meaning “Empty Heart Veggie” but really also refers to the vegetable’s hollow stalks.

How to select and prepare

IMG_0193Pick 通菜 with rigid leaves and thin, firm stalks (thicker stalks will yield a tougher texture after cooking). Green leaves are also a good indication of tenderness. To prepare 通菜, remove thicker stalks and roots (if any) and break into smaller pieces for easier consumption.

A popular Cantonese style for cooking 通菜 involve stir-frying the vegetables in fermented bean curd, otherwise known as “腐乳” (pronounced as fu jyu in Cantonese or in Mandarin). 腐乳 provides a delicious, savoury element that also enhances the creaminess of the dish. Other methods for cooking 通菜 include enjoying it in hot pot, pairing it with steam fish, or even tofu. Either way, the hollow stems of 通菜 are great for soaking up your chosen sauce and will definitely make a delicious addition to your next meal!

To learn more about other local choi in Chinatown, click here.

Choi Identification: Local Pole Beans (家鄉心豆仔)

IMG_0180One of the best things about shopping in Chinatown during the summertime is the variety of fresh, local, and affordable produce available for purchase, – you’d be surprised by what you can find! This week, we were excited to find freshly picked, homegrown pole beans at Carley Quality Meats, sourced from hua folks aka “” (pronounced as waa jan in Cantonese and huá rén in Mandarin) who were growing from their very own backyard here in Vancouver. Turns out, Carley Quality Meats has been selling home grown produce for quite some time. For example, they sourced fresh choi grown by one of their employee’s sister last year. Now that’s an example of a local economy!

As one of the employees explained, homegrown pole beans aka “豆仔” (pronounced as gaa hoeng sum dau zai in Cantonese and jiā xiāng xīn dòu zǎi in Mandarin) is quite popular amongst the local shoppers. Long, crisp and fresh, it’s easy to see why this veg is a crowd favourite. It even brought back childhood memories for Angela, our summer staff, of the (aka beans) that her mom used to grow in their backyard.

How to select and prepare

IMG_0171When selecting your veg, look for firm, bright green 豆 with a smooth exterior. When fresh, it should look well hydrated. To prepare your 豆, remove the tips from both ends and break into smaller pieces (a good size reference is the length of your palm). An easy (and fun!) way to prepare the 豆 is by snapping it with your hands; the beans make such a satisfying sound when you do so. Don’t believe us? Hear for yourself:

Cook the 豆 according to your personal preference; crisp, tender, or anything in between! A simple, yet classic way to enjoy these beans is by stir-frying it with garlic and oyster sauce. With that being said, they also hold up well when blanched, pickled or roasted.

Excited to try these homegrown goodies? Come on down to Chinatown, as they may go quickly! To learn more about other local choi in Chinatown, click here.

Choi Identification: Local Gai Choi (本地芥菜)

Don’t be fooled by its frilly leaves because this member of the mustard family packs a punch! With its yellowish-green colour and fleshy, pale stalks, gai choi is yet another locally grown vegetable that you should definitely try. This week, we picked up fresh gai choi at Jia Mei Market and made a delicious meal out of it!

IMG_0149Commonly referred to as “芥菜” (pronounced as gaai choi in Cantonese and jiè cài in Mandarin), 芥菜 is a leafy green vegetable that can also be known as Chinese mustard greens. We were able to pick up 芥菜仔 (aka baby 芥菜) from Jia Mei Market, which has a sweeter taste and more tender texture. Depending on the type of vegetable, keep an eye out for the character “仔” (pronounced as zai in Cantonese and zǎi in Mandarin) or  “心” (pronounced as sum in Cantonese or xin in Mandarin) on market signage if you’re looking for choi that was harvested when it was young.

How to select and prepare
Although the 芥菜仔 we purchased was already packaged in medium sized bags, you can still pick the best choi if you keep the following tips in mind:


  • Pick 芥菜 with freshly cut stems when possible to ensure that you’ll be getting the best of the best! (With that being said, stems with drier cuts can be easily pared away during preparation.)
  • Select 芥菜 with rigid stalks and leaves; this will help your choi maintain its crisp texture even after cooking.
  • At the Markets in Chinatown, you can always ask to bag up veggies according to your needs – smaller or larger amounts!

芥菜 has a slightly bitter flavour that can be alleviated through the use of ginger. Like other choi, 芥菜 can be prepared in a variety of ways: pickled, stir-fried or even braised. The choi-ce is yours!

To learn more about other local choi in Chinatown, click here.

Choi Identification: Local Cousa Squash (本地脆肉瓜)

Cousa whaa?

Cousa Squash! One of the many varieties of summer squash that are in season right now. Known for its light green, spotty exterior, we stumbled upon this unique squash for the first time this summer at Jia Mei Market and Carley Quality Meats.

IMG_9955Referred to as “脆肉瓜” in Chinese (pronounced as ceoi juk gwaa in Cantonese and cuì ròu guā in Mandarin), 脆肉瓜 reminded us a lot of regular green zucchinis. However, as some of the store employees explained to us, 脆肉瓜 is actually much crisper than regular zucchini, hence the reason why it’s literally called “crisp meat melon” in Chinese.

How to select and prepare

Like selecting other types of squash, look for 脆肉瓜 that are firm and smooth to the touch. We gravitated towards 脆肉瓜 that were shiny and heavy for their weight. Summer squash with duller appearances may indicate that they aren’t as fresh as it used to be.

IMG_9952Since summer squash such as 脆肉瓜 are typically harvested when they are still young, their outer rind is still tender and edible. On the other hand, winter squash takes longer to mature, thus leading to a tougher, more rigid exterior. Prepare 脆肉瓜 like you would with any other type of summer squash, – such as by steaming, roasting, or sauteéing it. As a matter of fact, you could even eat it raw by spiralizing it into “pasta” noodles.

Interested in trying out 脆肉瓜? Well, head down to Chinatown soon, as produce available one week may be gone by the next! To learn about other local choi in Chinatown, click here.

“Gold Mountain River”: (Re)Discovering our Chinese-Canadian Heritage

It was a bright and sunny morning in Richmond, BC, where ISSCO (International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas) conference delegates gathered to embark on a trip to visit Nlaka’pamux territory and learn about the legacy of Chinese miners in the region. Joining them were hua foundation staff (Kevin, Alan, Angela and Emily), who were excited to assist with the “Gold Mountain River” tour by providing both Cantonese and Mandarin translations, and their knowledge of local Chinese-Canadian history.

ISSCO is the first and only international scholarly organization dedicated to the advancement of research on Chinese overseas. The primary goals of the society are “to advance research and scholarly exchange in the study of Chinese overseas, provide means for research and publications, and to organize and support national and international conferences.” Last week, over 300 delegates, special guests and volunteers participated in the three day conference in Richmond on unceded Musqueam territory. 40 conference delegates attended the post-conference trip to unceded Nlaka’pamux territory of the Lytton First Nation to visit Browning’s Flat, a provincially recognized Chinese heritage site where Chinese miners once worked.

AIMG_2282s we made our way down the Fraser River, tour guides Henry Yu (Historian & UBC Professor), Sarah Ling (UBC Researcher and Film Producer) and Michael Kennedy (Geographer), members of the Fraser Corridor Heritage Landscape Project, uncovered the history of Chinese migrants in the region, such as the less commonly told relationships of reciprocity and trust that existed between the Chinese miners and Indigenous nations. One example of such cooperation was during the Fraser Canyon War, where Chinese miners were permitted to stay in the region despite American miners being driven out by local Indigenous groups. As shared by Henry Yu, Chinese miners tended to approach Indigenous groups with respect, often asking where they were allowed to mine and making efforts to forge long-term relationships with the local inhabitants. Visiting these mining sites was a way to engage the broader hua community in important conversations about migration and history, through a nuanced cultural lens that offers alternative understandings to dominant narratives of Canadian history.

IMG_9547Upon reaching Browning’s Flat, we were struck with awe at the sheer size and scale of the mining sites. Stretched across several kilometers were incredible hand-stacked stone walls called “chutes,” which were built by Chinese miners in order to divert wastewater used for panning gold. Walking through the mining site made it easier to wrap our heads around the tremendous amount of labour that went into the mining operations. When asked to estimate the number of miners that contributed to the site, participants responded with numbers ranging from 50 to 300. However, to our surprise, Browning’s Flat likely came to be only through the efforts of 20 or so Chinese miners, over the course of 10 to 15 years. Turns out, smaller operations facilitated trust and cooperation amongst the miners, and ensured that they received a fair share of the returns.

While the Gold Rush and Canadian Pacific Railway are often invoked in discussions regarding Chinese contributions to Canada, Henry pointed out that Chinese migrants also contributed to Canada in less commonly recognized ways. Chinese migrants played a major role in founding Canada’s social and economic infrastructure, establishing and amplifying industries such as restaurants, farming and the merchant trade. These contributions paved way for the growth and success of many present day businesses that we have come to know today.

In terms of our food security work at hua, it has only been in recent years that we have been able to learn about the legacy of Chinese-Canadians on the local food system. For example, Chinese-Canadian farmers produced 90% of BC’s vegetables up until 1920’s, after which the Vegetable Act curtailed their right to be able to market and sell their produce. The ramifications of systemic segregation are still experienced to this day: the majority of local Chinese businesses in the lower mainland, such as restaurants, green grocers, and fishmongers, all support and contribute to the local food system, but exist in parallel to the conventional, mainstream system. Despite this, the local Chinese food distribution system is a significant shadow economy that provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue, formed out of resilience against systemic racism.

IMG_2116Forming a partnership with the “Gold Mountain River” initiative was significant for hua foundation for several reasons: not only were we able to put our language (Cantonese, Mandarin and Taiwanese!) skills to the test, we also had the opportunity to experiment with alternative community engagement models that address history through a decolonizing lens, all the while fostering a sense of belonging. As an organization, it is important for us to be able to provide accessible programming in order to be able to share these experiences and stories with our elders, whom might not have the linguistic capacity to be able to access these opportunities.

Through the programming and partnerships that we pursue, hua foundation strives to foster a sense of belonging to the broader hua community, such as by facilitating an understanding and appreciation for local histories. While we may not be directly tied to these histories per se, shedding light on past experiences of Chinese-Canadians is a way for us to reconsider our relationships to the past, and our relationships to one another. By retelling the legacies of Chinese-Canadians that are less commonly acknowledged in public narratives, perhaps we can (re)discover how our present lives have been fundamentally shaped by the contributions and relationships forged by Chinese-Canadians from the past. Despite the fact that our lived experiences as Chinese-Canadians may differ, learning about the foundational contributions from the past is a way for us to understand how we are inherently connected to one another.

Reflecting on the past weekend, it was a transformative experience to be able to connect with ISSCO conference delegates from around the world over shared and parallel migration histories. As we gain momentum towards our goal of cultivating intercultural understanding, we hope that you will join hua foundation, UBC St. John’s College and Fraser River Raft Expeditions at the next Gold Mountain River Tour on July 28th, 2016.


Everyone is welcomed to attend the tour. For registration details or for more information, please contact the tour coordinator Sarah Ling at <>

Interested in our work? Keep an eye out for future programming that further explores untold local histories through our social media, and sign up for our newsletter here.

Additional pictures of the raft tour can be found on our Facebook page.

Choi Identification: Local Kohlrabi (本地大頭菜)

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Ah, Kohlrabi! A dense, crunchy vegetable with a sweet, earthy flavour. A bulbous vegetable resembling a cross between a turnip and the stem of a broccoli, kohlrabi is characterized by its delicate pale green exterior. This time, we spotted locally grown kohlrabi at Carley Quality Meat, a small but lively green grocer in Chinatown. As mentioned in our previous Choi Identification post, “本地” (pronounced as boon dei in Cantonese and běndì in Mandarin) means “local”  in Chinese, and is a key phrase to look for if you’re hoping to get locally grown ingredients!

How to Select and Prepare

Typically referred to as “大頭菜” in Chinese (daaih tàuh choi in Cantonese and dà tóu cài in Mandarin), kohlrabi is a vegetable that can be enjoyed either raw or cooked. Kohlrabi can also be called “靚菜头” (leng choi tàuh in Cantonese or jìng cài tóu in Mandarin) as seen at Carley Quality Meat. Translated literally, 大頭菜 essentially means big headed vegetable in English!

IMG_8562When picking out 大頭菜, look for vegetables that are firm to the touch. Keep an eye out for 大頭菜 that are soft and squishy, – they are likely bruised and may not keep for long.

To prepare 大頭菜, use a paring knife to remove the tough outer layer. This fibrous layer is tough to chew and may not be tasty in your dish! Pickled, steamed, stir-fried, or even eaten raw, 大頭菜 can be used in many ways. To see how we incorporated kohlrabi into one of our favourite Chinese dishes, check out our fried rice recipe video that features this unique vegetable!

To learn about other local choi in Chinatown, click here.

Choi Identification: Local watercress (本地西洋菜)

With summer just around the corner, it’s hard not to stumble upon a range of fresh, local choi at every green grocer you visit in Chinatown. This past week, local watercress offered at Jiamei Market caught our eye.

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IMG_8377When diving into the greengrocers in Chinatown, “本地” is a key phrase to look for on the signage if you are hoping to purchase local produce. Pronounced as boon dei in Cantonese and běndì in Mandarin, purchasing 本地 (aka local) choi means that you’ll be getting some of Chinatown’s freshest ingredients!

How to Select and Prepare

Typically sold in bunches, watercress aka 西洋菜” (sai yeuhng choi in Cantonese and yáng cài in Mandarin) can be identified by their long stringy stalks and round, earthy green leaves. It is a ingredient that can be used a variety of ways, such as in soups or stir frys. When cooked, 西洋菜 provides a delicate yet refreshing flavour that is perfect for cooling down from the summer heat.

西洋菜 is typically in season in Vancouver from the beginning of May to the end of October, so consider picking it up the next time you’re shopping in Chinatown!

To learn more about local choi, check out our Seasonal Choi Guide to discover what other vegetables are in season right now.

Summer Workshop Series Kickoff

Last week marked an exciting kick-off for hua foundation’s 2016 Summer Workshop Series. We hosted two dumpling making workshops; the first took place with our friends at Oppenheimer Park and the second with Auntie Julia in hua foundation’s cozy kitchen.

At Oppenheimer Park, we had a fun afternoon making over 200 dumplings with local residents. The room was filled with infectious energy; everyone seemed excited to either teach or learn a few traditional dumpling making techniques. Just look at a few of the focused faces and smiles we captured below.

IMG_20160526_134621       IMG_1556       IMG_20160526_134811

Two days later, we held our second workshop at hua HQ. We did our best to source local ingredients for our recipe. In fact, Auntie Julia took our workshop participants out on a local shopping tour through a few of Chinatown’s food businesses! We picked up a couple of things such as locally grown green onions and ground pork before we heading back to learn from our dumpling making guru.

Under the guidance of Auntie Julia, we learnt how to chop, mix, and wrap plump little dumplings. Participants shared stories with each gentle fold, bonding over childhood memories of cooking with their family and the significance of traditional foods to them. At the end of the workshop, we had a delicious meal of fresh dumplings, enjoyed in the company of new friends.

That’s a wrap! Thanks again to our friends at Oppenheimer Park, Auntie Julia, Kevin, and participants for making our first workshops a success!

– Alan & Angela

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