Vivian Jung was many things. A mother, a dancer, a community member. She was also the first teacher of Chinese descent hired by the Vancouver School Board.
To become a teacher, Vivian needed swimming certification. However, back in the early 1940s, non-whites weren’t allowed access to public pools. Denied entry, her instructor and classmates protested in solidarity, refusing to enter the pool until Vivian could as well. Their collective act of courage represented the beginning of the desegregation of public spaces. Vivian went on to teach at Tecumseh School for 35 years.
Vivian’s story represents how the lives of her students and the citizens of British Columbia were changed, and she’s just one of countless stories that are waiting to be told.
That’s the goal of the Chinatown Storytelling Centre, which opens this fall: sharing in a neighbourhood’s rich history of bravery, of persistence and of what it means to be Canadian.