Reading Room & Listening Room
Reading Room is a discussion-oriented series that will engage current thinking and practices seen as existing outside the traditional ideas in heritage – ideas that have shaped the system dominant in the past decades – as a means to engage with our current social realities.
Using a variety of reading materials, videos, and presentations (when possible, we will invite guests) as a basis for these discussions, Reading Room sessions will be opportunities for participants to reflect on this material, discuss their reactions, give their own individual experiences, and reason together about how heritage can be part of the solutions to the societal problems we face. Our goal is to provide a space to open ourselves to different ways of thinking and, through listening, honest debate, and personal engagement, make for a healthier public life.
Reading Room #5: Disasters and Heritage
One hazard that presents a unique threat to Vancouver because its magnitude and timing are so unpredictable is a major earthquake. While we are lucky to experience earthquakes infrequently, we know from Indigenous histories and geological analyses that major earthquakes are a part of the long-term story of this region. It is only a matter of time until a damaging earthquake strikes Vancouver. In the face of such a threat to people’s health, lives, and belongings, what does heritage matter?
In this first of a two part Reading Room,we dive into a speculative near (or distant future) to ask: if a major earthquake strikes Vancouver, what is left of its heritage?
Answering these questions together will give us the opportunity to explore what forms of heritage are at risk, what should be restored in the aftermath, and who decides. In the aftermath of disaster, who rebuilds whom? The people or the places that are special to them? When disaster strikes, saving lives is always the first priority. But what we find in examples from Canada and around the world is a complex relationship between people, their heritage, and the hazards they face. Through short readings, videos, and podcasts, we will discover some ways in which the special places and practices that people value can serve as catalysts for disaster recovery and restore intimate connections to place. What lessons can these examples hold for Vancouver, as we face the potential for damaging earthquakes?
View past Listening Room events below
Listening Room #1
Listening Room #1
The Filipino Community and food hub at Joyce-Collingwood
December 9, 2021
A rezoning proposal for 5163-5187 Joyce Street near the Joyce-Collingwood Skytrain station drew a lot of interest earlier in the year. Covered in the Tyee as Vancouver’s Filipino Heart, attention has been on the cluster of six small businesses, many Filipino-run and patronized, facing displacement.
Listening Room: The Filipino Community and the food hub at Joyce-Collingwood is an online event on Zoom to hear from two guests directly affected by the development proposal:
Bennet Miemban-Ganata, the owner of Plato Filipino, one of the businesses on the site up for redevelopment
Claire Baguio, the co-founder of Sliced Mango Collective, an organization conducting their own community engagement about the displacement of the businesses through their #SliceofSupport campaign
Listening Room provides a space for our two guests to share what this neighbourhood and food hub means to them and for attendees to understand this place from their perspective. During the event, a moderator will conduct a conversation with our guests about the life experiences connected to this food hub and neighbourhood:
• How do relationships with these food businesses express a living Filipino-Canadian culture and a sense of local heritage?
• What meanings do these businesses have for Filipino immigrants?
• What is the significance of these food businesses at Joyce Collingwood, to a networked community within and beyond the neighbourhood
• What are some of the stories important for consideration when decisions are made about this hub?
Listening Room #1 Recording and Summary
Listen to a recording of the Listening Room session above. View a transcript of some highlights below. Use the timestamps to navigate the clip above and hear more.
To better understand Joyce-Collingwood as the Filipino Community and Food Hub in
Metro Vancouver, Bennet Miemban-Ganata, the owner of Plato Filipino, and Claire
Baguio, the co-creator of Sliced Mango Collective, sharing their personal and collective
ties to the neighbourhood with Listening Room event participants.
The proposed re-development of Joyce-Collingwood on 5163-5187 Joyce Street, would
have direct impact on the 6 food businesses in the neighbourhood (5 Filipino run and 1
Chinese run at the time of the event). Bennett’s customers at Plato Filipino come from
across the city often on their way between multiple jobs; seniors visit daily as part of
their routine; friends and families gather during the weekend. While Bennett is not
against change in the neighbourhood, she is against the abrupt disruption of the
services that her customers rely on in their everyday lives. More importantly, Bennett is
concerned about the development displacing the established Filipino community.
In March 2021, Claire and her team at Sliced Mango Collective launched Slice of
Support campaign, to help mobilize and engage with the community, in recognizing the
neighbourhood as a Filipino hub. The campaign hopes further developments are in
consideration of the area as an established neighbourhood. Claire states, “it is about the
city sending a message that we [Filipino] belong here” (52:16). Through sharing stories
about the people, Bennett and Claire establish the neighbourhood as more than a food
hub, but integral spaces for the Filipino community in the city.
01:03 – Opening by Sheilagh Cahill (Director)
Sheilagh expressed appreciation to members, donors and funders, public forums,
educational commentary, research initiatives and volunteers for their ongoing support of
Heritage Vancouver Society.
03:07 – Land Acknowledgement and introduction to the Listening Room by Bill Yuen
03:26 – What does it mean to be a heritage organization like we are, to practice heritage
on these lands?
Bill acknowledged the heritage field has had the power to decide what matters and what
gets attention. There is growing awareness that heritage is about the broader context of
power and selection, beyond the preservation of buildings.
04:19 – Introduction to Listening Room
As part of the ongoing effort to understand and take actions in accordance to the
changing definition of heritage, the Listening Room series was launched to help better
understand the different groups of people across the city
06:23 – Claire Baguio’s (co-founder) introduction of her organization Sliced Mango
06:33 – Introduction of Slice of Support campaign
The campaign launched in March 2021 with other organizations, in response to the
proposed re-development of Joyce-Collingwood neighbourhood that would have
affected 6 businesses (5 run by Filipino and 1 by Chinese). The goal was to inform the
neighbourhood of the proposed development, to mobilize and engage with the
community in recognizing the neighbourhood as an established Filipino hub in Metro
09:16 – Bennet’s (owner of Plato Filipino) relationship to Joyce-Collingwood
Bennet chose to live in the neighbourhood when she moved to Vancouver, as an
assigned Filipino government official, to be close the concentrated Filipino residents and
10:04 – Claire’s relationship to the neighbourhood
Claire lived in the neighbourhood when her family immigrated to Canada in 2000. While
she no longer lives in the neighbourhood, she still frequently visits the area with her
relatives and friends.
12:38 – Bennet’s customers
Bennet’s customers at Plato Filipino are majority Filipino of various ages from across
Metro Vancouver, often on the way between working multiple jobs. She found the
serving style Turo-turo, having the dishes laid out at the counter, most effectively serve
her customers as they could easily select their meal and move on to their next
destination in the city. On the weekend, Bennett would observe her customers visiting
the restaurants with their friends and family.
17:35 – Claire’s experience interacting with other businesses around Joyce-Collingwood
Claire found common thread of concern among the businesses she engaged with, that
re-developments in the city had often made no meaningful effort in engaging with
existing residents and businesses during the planning phase – there is lack of protection
for existing and established local businesses in the marginalized neighbourhood.
22:49 – What does being Filipino Canadian in Vancouver mean to you? (Bill)
Claire: Being able to connect with the Filipino culture and heritage, and continue to
engage with individual’s complex layers of identities and experiences on the contested
history of the land. (23: 56)
Bennett values the importance of (Filipino) representation that celebrates the cultures.
Filipinos are well known for the passion to share the food of their culture, to provide
hospitality and care through the everyday interactions. (26:01)
28:36 – How do you feel or relate to the word ‘heritage’? (Bill)
Claire: “Heritage is about what you want to preserve and keep for the future generation”
Bennett: “Filipino cuisine is at the heart of Filipino culture.” (33:36) The food would
remind the younger generation of their motherland.
35:06 – What do you see when you see this image? (illustration created for the talk by
Helena Escauriaga shown)
Bennett: “A friendly, simple discussion among us”, that is conversational and
39:21 – The food hub is really not just about food? (Bill)
Claire sees food as a connection to the culture and heritage, and for one to feel at home
in a foreign land. The hub is an establishment the community has built for themselves
41:10 – “A sense of place where there is none” (Claire)
42:34 – “What do you want someone to experience when they go into your restaurant?”
Bennet would like her customers to experience the warmth, the openness, the
hospitality, the patience to explain about the food and how she would connect customer
to the culture
46:20 – What is next for you?
Bennett expressed while she is not against redevelopments in general, she is against
the abrupt disruption of the services that her current customers, especially the seniors in
the area, rely on for the everyday livelihood. Bennett is concerned about the lasting
effect of gentrification.
Claire hoped the existing business could remain, as it would be unfair to lose an
established community built by the neighbourhood itself.
52:16 – Claire shared a personal experience in the neighbourhood
When Claire got lost in the neighbourhood at the age of 3, she was able to eventually
find her way by finding the store that their family frequented, whom the business owner
knew her parents. Claire hoped moving forward, there would be more consideration of
the area as an established neighbourhood, and acknowledge the establishment as the
work of immigrants of all various ethnics. She hoped efforts to be in place to keep the
heritage in the area. It is about the city sending a message that we (Filipino) belong
56:08 – How can other communities support the Joyce-Collingwood community?
Bennett appreciated the continuing support from the community for the past year,
especially the younger generation who are mobilizing the campaigns. Bennett hoped
further actions to continue collectively until the messages are heard and valued those
involved in the development.
Claire encourages anyone to continue to participate in organizations or initiatives that
are actively taking actions in supporting the community.
01:01:12 – Are there affordable opportunities for mix use in the proposed development
for Filipino businesses?
Bennett and other businesses had been contacted by the developer via email asking
their willingness to return among the 4 available retail spaces. There was no further
contact from the developer and no information on affordability.
01:06:02 – What is the proposed time frame for the development?
Bennett said the development would take around 3 years to complete, however there
was no concrete time line at the time.
01:08:48 – What would you like to see and what is your vision for 5-10 years in this
Bennett would like to continue the business to preserve the Filipino culture and bringing
the community together.
Claire anticipates the inevitable change in the neighbourhood, but hopes the
neighbourhood will remain a Filipino hub. Claire hoped the community would continue to
create services and spaces to support the specific community needs, such as Saint
Mary Catholic church with the Tagalog Masses (01:11:05).
01:13:52 – What is the importance of stories to you and of sharing your stories about the
As a writer, Claire finds storytelling a wonderful medium to create personal and
emotional connection with others. Instead of through the presentation of facts, Claire
values the human connection as the catalyst to create change. As stories make up
individual’s lives, Claire finds storytelling the most appropriate way to talk about the
neighbourhood that matters most to her and many others. (01:14:32)
For Bennett, her everyday experience is deeply connected to the neighbourhood. The
simple stories of helping seniors walking, or reaching out to friends to meet in the
neighbourhood, are mundane but significant evidence that conveys the importance of
the neighbourhood. (01:16:33)
Check back here soon for updates on new Reading Room Events!
Learn more about past Reading Room events here
Reading Room #1
Reading Room #1
Commemorative Monuments and Meaning
October 1 & 21, 2020
Overview Covered in graffiti. Damaged. Toppled. Sparked by the death of George Floyd in May of this year, commemorative monuments again became the centre of societal protest in places all over the world. Again, because of the recent outrages aimed at objects that commemorate historical figures or specific historical events, the desire for a more inclusive representation of the past are not new phenomena. When discussing commemorative monuments, it is important to decide what we mean by them. A commemorative monument is any object – such as a statue, work of art, fountain, bench or plaque – that was put in place with the intention to commemorate a historical figure or (series of) historical event(s), and that is publicly accessible. They are generally installed years after a significant person died or a historical event happened. Though not generally the intention, monuments tend to tell us more about the commemorating society, rather than the commemorated historical figure or event. In this first of two Reading Rooms on commemorative monuments, we will elaborate on the purpose of commemorative monuments, and discuss the concept of the changing character of memory and meaning in relation to objects. ______________________  The debate on what to do with Confederate monuments in the United States has been going on for more than a decade now. Other examples from the more recent past include the need for Holocaust commemoration – especially in (the former West) Germany, and the struggle for ‘building’ heritage in post-apartheid South Africa.
Reading Room #1 Part 2
Reading Room #1 Part 2
Commemorative Monuments and Alternative Approaches
October 29, 2020
In the last couple of years, the role of commemorative monuments has increasingly been questioned by societies all over the world. In Canada, the debate has predominantly focused on statues of white men that have been regarded and praised as local or national heroes, but whose past deeds are now being disputed.
In Part 2 of Reading Room #1, we will discuss alternatives for commemorating historical figures and events. In an environment where there are widespread debates over what to do with contested monuments, we apply alternatives to several contested sites in Vancouver to see what their future might look like. Our discussion of alternatives will include leaving it, removal, relocation, the installation of new monuments, and creating a “counter-monument”.
Reading Room #2
Reading Room #2
Why And What Do We Save?
February 23 & March 16, 2021
Overview We often think of places as having a fixed identity. People often associate heritage with saving places and with a fixed identity that is considered significant. However, places are always more complex and multifaceted. The heritage of a place often involves a combination of different memories, histories, relationships, emotions, experiences and social conflicts involving a variety of people. With this in mind, is the ultimate purpose of heritage to save a building or is there much more than saving a building? Or is it something else altogether? In Reading Room #2, we will read and ask questions about why and what we save. Using specific examples from Vancouver and elsewhere, we will discuss whether the diverse interests, meanings and contested histories of a place can be understood when we try to save only the physical building.
Reading Room #3
Reading Room #3
Learning About Indigenous Architecture
June 16, July 6 & 27, 2021
Overview This Reading Room will examine the radio episode “How Indigenous architects are resisting colonial legacies and reshaping spaces” on Unreserved, CBC Radio’s program for Indigenous community, culture and conversation. This episode has interviews with Indigenous guests about architecture, including Douglas Cardinal and Patrick Stewart who designed the Aboriginal Children’s Village in Vancouver. Participants in this Reading Room will listen to the program before the event in preparation for a thoughtful conversation on the ideas and thoughts the guests express on the radio program as well as some of the projects discussed on the show.
Reading Room #4
Reading Room #4
Food, Identity, and Heritage
September 2, 2021
In this Reading Room, we will discuss the importance of food culture and its relationship to heritage. Using a couple of examples from other parts of Canada, we first look at the importance of food to identity and how three varying ideas of “heritage” relate to this. We then focus on the specific case of 5163-5187 Joyce Street. Attention has been on the cluster of six small businesses, many Filipino-run and patronized, facing potential displacement with a planned tower near Joyce-Collingwood station. This portion of the discussion addresses how food might be important to our sense of local heritage and representation and we dive into: the meanings of these businesses at Joyce-Collingwood, small businesses important to local communities under a municipal heritage program that is intended for building preservation, protection of food culture, and how food relates to place (or not). This part of the session is intended to be a discussion of our thoughts and ideas prompted by the preparatory material (news article and interview) about what is happening at Joyce-Collingwood. On a separate date, we would like to hold an additional event to build on our discussion by inviting a guest from the community -someone who can speak directly to the issue- to help us explore and discuss more deeply.
We acknowledge the financial assistance of the Province of British Columbia.