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 earned the swimming certification and went on to teach at Tecumseh School for 35 years.
Vivian’s story represents how the brave decisions of her community shaped multicultural Canada, and she’s one of countless stories waiting to be told.
That’s the goal of the Chinatown Storytelling Centre, which opens this spring: sharing in a neighbourhood’s rich history of bravery, of persistence and of what it means to be Canadian.