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Asian and South Asian Heritage Month - May

Asian Heritage Month 2020The month of May in Ontario is dedicated to celebrating the contributions of Canadians from over 30 countries that make up the Asian and South Asian diaspora.

Asian Heritage Month has been a focus of celebration in many communities across Canada since the 1990s. In December of 2001, Senator Vivienne Poy proposed a motion that was adopted by the Senate of Canada, designating May as Asian Heritage Month nationally. During May of 2002, the Government of Canada made this motion official by signing a declaration to designate May as Asian Heritage Month. 

2021 Poster


The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario celebrates May Asian Heritage Month. This year’s poster, Resistance & Change: Celebrating Asian Canadian Stories captures five stories of collective resistance. They chronicle Asian Canadian struggles, experiences and resilience in different political and social spaces. Emmie Tsumura, Japanese Canadian artist creates a collage with a feeling of warmth and solidarity, spanning many generations of people of different cultural backgrounds and identities to celebrate what is possible.

The poster is available in bothPDF​ andWord formats.
The letter accompanying the poster:PDF​ |Word​
Printable Size:8.5 x 11 inch poster and11 x 17 inch poster

For further information, please contact Alice Te at

Who is of Asian Descent?

The definition of "Asian" may be inclusive and broad, and applies to people who come from or whose ancestors come from:

  • East Asia- China, Hong Kong S.A.R., Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan.
  • South Asia - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.
  • Central Asia - Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.
  • Southeast Asia - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam. 
  • Western Asia - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates,Yemen.

What Can We Learn?

Like all cultures, Asian heritage is a diverse and ever-changing concept that has varied meanings to the different communities and generations. During Asian Heritage Month we are invited:

  • To celebrate traditional as well as contemporary Asian-Canadian culture, which includes poetry, dances, sports, music and art;
  • To learn about the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of the diverse Asian heritage that makes up our Canadian communities;
  • To understand the historical journeys and ongoing struggles of diverse Asian communities;
  • To recognize individual and institutional racism both past and present, that have impacted the lives of many groups; and
  • To engage with students through lessons and discussions of prominent past events, current issues of racism and discrimination that continue to impact the many Asian communities living in Canada and to bear witness to the resistance and resilience of such groups.

It is important to recognize that Asian Canadian history is part of Canadian history and should not only be highlighted during this month but integrated throughout the school year.

Asians in Canada have a long history in the labour movement. Asian migrants and Asian Canadians have faced discrimination, exploitation and danger in many of Canada’s workplaces. Even today, many of our Asian communities experience racism and Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination on individual and institutional levels.

Workers of Asian descent have demonstrated resilience and have organized in order to disrupt laws and practices that were racist and discriminated against certain minority groups.

The following are but a few highlighted events and issues that can be explored with staff, students and communities:

  • The Continuous Journey Regulation and the Komagata Maru;
  • The Chinese Migrant Workers of the Gold Rush and Canadian Pacific Railway;
  • The Chinese Immigration Act;
  • Japanese Internment during the Second World War;
  • Anti-Asian Riots of the early 1900s; and
  • Islamophobic hate crimes in recent reports.

ETFO Programs and Resources

ETFO offers its members focused training workshops and curricular programs addressing the topics of anti-racist education, white privilege and Asian-Canadian and Diasporic content:

Equity Workshops

Re-Thinking White Privilege

This workshop takes an exploratory look at white privilege and builds awareness and understanding of what educators can do to re-think their own privilege. Opportunities will be provided to enter into professional dialogue and conversations about white privilege and other forms of privilege. Educators will examine what can be done to address privilege in themselves and their classrooms.


Islamophobia Affects All Our Students
Islamophobia is prejudice against, hatred towards or fear of Islam or Muslims. This workshop is designed to build awareness relating to issues of Islamophobia and critically examine personal and professional biases, explore resources to meet the diverse needs of schools that represent a multiplicity of perspectives and encourage members to take further actions relating to inclusion within their classrooms, schools, families and communities.


Social Justice Begins with Me
This workshop introduces members to the Social Justice Begins with Me resource kit which is designed to help educators address issues of equity and social justice in their classrooms and assist students in developing awareness and understanding of these issues. Lesson plans for K through Grade 8 are linked to Ontario’s curriculum. Educators will learn how to engage diverse learners and create classroom environments that are safe, respectful and inclusive.

These workshops are part of the Equity Workshops 2018-2019 program for locals. Follow this link for more information on running a workshop in your local. ​

2020 Poster

For Asian Heritage Month 2020, utilizing the work and words of Dr. David Suzuki and the creativity and artistry of Meera Sethi, ETFO highlights the intersections of earth and identity and raises awareness of how all elements and beings are symbiotic with the earth, and its’ movements. 

The poster is available in bothPDF​ andWord formats.
The letter accompanying the poster:PDF​ |Word​



2019 Poster Series

ETFO presents a series of four (4) connecting posters that conceptualize themes of diverse identities & journeys, stories of celebration and resistance. Through writer Souvankham Thammavongsa’s poetry, the interweaving of communities and their narratives are shared amongst the dynamic, colourful and creative works of four (4) diverse Asian artists living in Canada.

This year’s poster series is available in bothPDF andWord formats. 
This document explains the 2019 poster series: PDF andWord. ​

2018 Poster

This year’s Asian heritage month poster features six innovative and inspiring Asian Canadian writers. Their works celebrate and focus on diverse identities, resistance and pride.

The poster is available in bothPDF andWord formats.

Helpful Links to Resources: