May is Asian Heritage Month. It is an opportunity to acknowledge, celebrate, inspire, and continue the conversations that help us learn and grow together. There are amazing events happening across the country. Here is what’s happening in Toronto:

The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act Public Talk:

Toronto Reference Library, May 6 from 6:30 pm to 8 pm. The Chinese Canadian Museum (Vancouver) heads across the country this month with partnering with major institutions. The purpose is to share the stories of Chinese Canadians along with their contributions and sacrifices in helping to build Canada. This FREE public talk and discussion will be held at the Library with Catherine Clement — Creator and Curator of the national exhibition and archive “The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act”; and Jean Yee — daughter of a Chinese head tax payer who operated a hand laundry in Toronto during the exclusion years. More details here.

Chinese Canadian Museum

Old Chinatown Walking Tour: Perseverance and Activism: May 11. Mackenzie House. This walk led by Mackenzie House Museum staff considers the early settlement patterns of the Chinese community in Toronto. A focus on “Old Chinatown” in the Ward neighbourhood. Walk meets at the northeast corner of Yonge and Adelaide Streets and concludes at Mackenzie House. PWYC suggested $5 register online.

Gayageum Music Concert: Barbara Frum Library. May 14 at 6pm. The gayageum music concert is performed by Roa (HyunYoung) Lee, a composer, arranger and gayageum musician from Korea. Roa Lee is performing classic, jazz, waltz and pop music played with the 25-stringed Gayageum (a traditional Korean musical instrument) and traditional Korean music on the 12-stringed Gayageum.

One Heart, One Canada: From Exclusion to Inclusion at the Toronto Railway Museum (255 Bremner Blvd, outdoor event) at 1 pm. All are welcome at this event to acknowledge the history of the Chinese community in Canada during Asian Heritage Month. The event includes a photo exhibition and stories, live lion dance performance, and speeches from every level of government.

Asian Heritage Month Cultural Festival: Mel Lastman Square. May 25, 12 noon to 10 pm. Celebrate the diverse Asian cultures in this one day family friendly festival. Enjoy dance, live music, performances, and food.

HOT DOCS Celebrates Asian Heritage Month:

Lies and Weddings with Best Selling Author Kevin Kwan: May 27. Ted Rogers Hot Docs Cinema. The international bestselling author Kevin Kwan (Crazy Rich Asians) will appear on the Hot Docs Cinema stage for the exclusive Canadian debut of his new novel on Lies and Weddings.

In anticipation of the event with Kevin Kwan, the Cinema will screen Crazy Rich Asians, hosted by the RepresentASIAN Project and featuring an in-depth discussion between Madelyn Chung, founder of the RepresentASIAN Project and Stacy Lee Kong of Friday Things. Check for dates and times on the Hot Docs site.

Kevin Kwan - Lies and Weddings

Hot Docs Family Screenings will present Hayao Miyazaki’s magical eight feature film, Ponyo.

Hot Docs Cinema brings all of the slaps, chops, and roundhouse kicks, to the screen with Enter the Clones of Bruce, a wild examination of Bruce Lee mega-fandom that spawned its own film genre.

On May 24, the Cinema will present a special screening of The Last Year of Darkness, a loving portrait of an LGBTQ+ bar in Chengdu, China. As the city of Chengdu changes, the future of beloved club Funky Town is unclear. For a vibrant group of DJs, drag artists, ravers, and skaters, it is a sanctuary that allows them to thrive after hours. But as the sun comes up, the friends must face what brought them to the party in the first place.

Pasang: In The Shadow of Everest will premiere at Hot Docs on May 17. The story of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, the indigenous trailblazer who battled racism, gender discrimination, and political opposition in her quest to become the first Nepali woman to summit Mt. Everest, and whose courageous journey would greatly move her country, inspiring new generations to reach for their rights.

You Never Walk Alone: A Night of BTS Music, Friends, and Fanship: May 16.
Join Friends Lainey Lui, Ann Pornel and Hannah Sung on this Spring Day as they share how their Map of the Soul changed through loving BTS, the biggest band in the world. Expect music, trivia, games, audience participation and permission to be yourself. Who will be Standing Next to You? Bring your Army bomb and your bestie!

Lee Chang-dong in Three: TIFF Lightbox. Various dates. Acclaimed filmmaker Lee Chang-dong announced his directorial talents with films that explore Korea’s sweeping political change through the ’80s and ’90s and the social outsiders that are a focus of his work. Newly restored in luminous 4K, and long out of theatrical circulation, TIFF Cinematheque presents Green Fish, Peppermint Candy, and Oasis as part of our Lee Chang-dong in Three series.

TD Music Celebrates Asian Heritage Month at Union Station: May 7th, 4:00pm to 6:00pm at the TD stage in the West Wing of Union Station. Free TD Music performance featuring Ethan Low and Gurtej! Immerse yourself in Rhythm & Blues along with some Soulful Fusion.

Good Behaviour Ice Cream

The Zen Diary at the Japanese Canadian Culture Centre:

Japanese film “The Zen Diary” is scheduled to screen at the JCCC on May 23.  Following this first screening there will be two additional at the Revue Cinema on May 24 and 25. The film’s director, Yuji Nakae, will be in attendance at all screenings. The film depicts Buddhist vegetarian cuisine and the sustainable lifestyle in Nagano, Japan.

Synopsis: Tsutomu lives alone in the mountains, writing essays and cooking food with vegetables he grows and mushrooms he picks in the hills. His routine is happily disturbed when Machiko, his editor/love interest, occasionally visits. She loves to eat, and he loves to cook for her. Tsutomu seems content with his daily life. On the other hand, he still hasn’t let go of his wife’s ashes, although she died 13 years ago. A close brush with death will now force him to decide what he values most in life and what he must choose going forward.

BACKYARD Party Asian Night Market at STACKT MARKET: May 18. Join in this day of celebrating community, while supporting Asian owned small businesses. Discover food vendors, art, music, performances, artisans and great eats. Learn how to make dumplings in Trevor Lui’s workshop. Be sure to stop into Blue Moon Brewery to visit the new FAT BAO EATS for modern asian snacks — their Filet ‘Ah’ Fish Bao is highly recommended.

bao - fat bao eats

Fat Bao Eats by Trevor Lui and Chef Eva Chin

#AsianOwnedOnYelp Events:

Dive into Toronto’s Asian-owned businesses with Yelp’s Asian-Owned in Toronto series starting May 13, 2024. Celebrate Asian Heritage Month and  Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month with week-long experiences from enjoying Sichuan and Hong Kong culinary delights to in-person gatherings meeting new acquaintances through drinks and food. All events are open to anyone with a Yelp profile and a profile photo, and city location posted. **RSVP to these events individually on Yelp**

To learn more about Yelp’s Asian-Owned in Toronto event series and to RSVP for events, please visit: #AsianOwnedOnYelp

In-person Yelp Events:

Art & Brew at Playground Cafe: May 16, 6:30 pm to 8 pm. Bringing Asian coffee culture to Toronto. Groove to DJ beats as you customize your own coconut beverage and enjoy their new art display. Playground Cafe is blending the rich coffee culture of Asia with rotational art displays. Owned by a Filipino and Vietnamese duo, it offers a unique fusion of Vietnamese cafe culture and creativity, inviting the community to savour their crafted beverages while immersing themselves in ever-changing art displays. Welcome to a space where each sip sparks inspiration and every visit promises a visual experience.

Twilight Cafe Game Night – Sips and Snacks: May 21, 5:30 pm-7:30 pm.  Visit Twilight Cafe’s new woman and Asian-owned board game cafe in North York for a relaxing evening of board game fun, drinks and snacks. Marathon Cafe is renowned for its award-winning Hong Kong-style milk tea and a delightful array of HK diner snacks and drinks. Embracing the fusion of Eastern and Western culinary influences, their menu features comforting favourites such as baked spaghetti, pineapple bun sandwiches, and noodle soups. With locations across Toronto/GTA. This cozy location is right by Finch station and caters mainly for takeout. For Asian Heritage Month, experience a complimentary casual dining affair in a Hong Kong diner/cafe on May 21. Guestlisted Yelpers will receive a complimentary beverage and dish, with daily options subject to availability.

Noodle Nights at Hey Noodles: May 28,  8pm – 9:30pm. We’re gathering for a delicious evening of noodles with name tags and intros. Join this Yelpers’ meet-up! Enjoy a choice of main course with unlimited noodle refills, a choice of appetizer and sweets. Meet fellow Yelpers, connect with the Yelp Toronto team, and indulge in delicious treats. RSVP individually to secure your spot.

Yelp Week Long Experiences:

Skewers & Sichuan Delights at Miss Fu in Chengdu (Mon May 13 – Sun May 19, 2024): Enjoy Sichuan food through a Yelp exclusive set menu choice of appetizers, main and dessert in North York and Downtown locations. Explore the delicious flavours of Chengdu’s cuisine! Each confirmed attendee on the guest list will be treated to a curated set menu for dine-in only. Indulge in your choice of appetizer–either the refreshing smashed cucumber salad or the crispy deep-fried tofu. For the main course, savour 20 skewers of your preferred protein: chicken, beef, or a seafood medley. And to end on a sweet note, enjoy either the fried brown sugar glutinous rice cake or the delightful brown sugar with rice balls for dessert.

Yelp Experience at Illuminarium Lite Brite: Worlds of Wonder: Distillery District. May 13 to May 24. Yelp has a ticket giveaway to Illuminarium Lite-Brite: Worlds of Wonder with special Yelp pass access to photobooth and Yelp goodies. This special Yelp pass includes a lanyard and complimentary access to the photobooth. In the photobooth select from a range of poses, discover an inspiring Lite-Brite imagined portrait, and take home a printed souvenir to commemorate your journey into a world of wonder.

HK Tea and Temptations at Marathon Cafe: May 15 to May 21. Enjoy a takeout experience of HK dining of drink and food in North York and Downtown locations. Experience a complimentary casual dining experience in a Hong Kong diner/cafe. Guestlisted Yelpers will receive a complimentary beverage and dish, with daily options subject to availability.

Good Behaviour (Wed, May 15 – Tue May 21, 2024): Drop by Good Behaviour’s new Downtown location by Queen St W and enjoy a double scoop waffle cone. From the owner, Eric, “Michael and I have both been in the food and beverage game for a long time, and have been really inspired by the relatively recent explosive growth in API representation in the industry.  This has resulted in so many new business opportunities for people that look like us, eat the foods we eat, and that enjoy the flavours we enjoy!  Being able to take the skills we learned from our time in French, Italian, Mediterranean and contemporary North American fine dining restaurants, and then express them in an environment that reflects our own personal experiences as Toronto-born Asian Canadians, has been a dream come true.  For us, Good Behaviour is no longer just a way for us to make a living – it’s a vehicle for us to meaningfully and creatively express ourselves culturally.” They are also known for their delicious sandwiches.

Asian Heritage Month Markets:

The Welcome Market: May 3, 5 pm to 10 pm at 938 Queen Street West. Support asian led local busses from our diverse Asian communities in this market experience. Expect live performances throughout the night as well.

Asian Heritage Month at Stackt (28 Bathurst Street): May 4 from 2pm to 10 pm. Free entry until 7 pm. Explore over 20 local asian local artisans, enjoy live entertainment after 7pm at the CityPop show (ticketed)

What else is happening in Toronto this month? Check out our latest City Girl’s Guide!

*Lead in photo credit Bart LaRue on Unsplash