JIA Foundation

The Jia Foundation aims to promote the inclusive place-keeping and placemaking of Chinatown as well as the conservation of both its tangible and intangible cultural heritage by creating projects that activate public spaces and significant historic buildings through cultural practice, with storytelling and intergenerational exchange, as well as by developing expertise and tools that the community can use to map out and advocate for its future. Centering the experiences of Chinatown’s living communities, Jia will offer pathways for people to connect with this historically and culturally significant space in meaningful ways.

JIA Foundation is an initiative of the Chinatown Working Group to form a non-profit organization with a mandate to foster the cultural heritage of Montreal’s Chinatown through storytelling and place-making in order to continue some of the work initiated by CWG and build community capacity and expertise.

JIA foundation aims to…

Activate

Work to protect, preserve and grow Montreal Chinatown’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage by creating projects that activate public and significant historic spaces through cultural and art-based practice.

Cultivate

Foster a process of inclusive place-making of Montreal’s Chinatown by and for its diverse communities.

Empower

Develop expertise, capacity and tools for Montreal’s Chinatown communities, as well as Chinatowns at large, to map out, secure and advocate for its future.

Unite

Act as a resource hub and project incubator for initiatives that advance the public’s appreciation for the living culture and communities of Montreal’s Chinatown and Chinatowns at large.

Chinatown Connections

This is a partnership between Jia Foundation and UBC INSTRCC (Initiative for Student Teaching and Research in Chinese Canadian Studies) to facilitate strategic collaborations and communications between Chinatowns. Chinatowns across North America were born out of the experience of discrimination….

Reimagine Clark Street and Montreal Chinatown

This is a partnership between Jia Foundation and Next-Generation Cities Institute at Concordia University Montreal to form an interdisciplinary team and collaborate on a number of projects with an equitable and community-driven approach toward issues of heritage, housing, cultural spaces,…

La Ville Extraordinaire (Ville X)

This is an oral history research-creation project based at the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS) in Concordia University, Montreal. The objective of Ville X is to learn from the urban knowledge of diverse older citizens in Montreal…

Our Official OCPM statement

The Office de Consultation Publique de Montréal launched a consultation in spring 2022 to seek input from citizens, organizations and stakeholders on the proposed bylaw modifications for Montreal’s Chinatown. Here is Jia Foundation’s Official Statement:

Photo credit: Richmond Lam

What is JIA?

Where is home? What makes a home? How many homes can one have?  Is home about the sense of belonging?  Or is home about putting down roots?  How can one put down new roots?  What happens to the old roots you had? When does one start or stop feeling at home?  Am I feeling at home now?   

Jia is a word in Mandarin that has layers of meaning: family and home. Jia-ren means “members of family” and hui-jia means “to return home”. Like chez-soi, home is more than housing, jia is more than a home. Jia offers the sense of refuge, security and belonging, and jia is where the roots are and where we return to.   

Why now?

Chinatown is a place that has offered generations of people a sense of home when they were excluded or marginalized by society at large.  Chinatown is a place filled with stories of struggle and resistance that are ingrained in its buildings and development patterns. Chinatown is a place that symbolizes connection, resilience and a sense of community. Essentially, Chinatown is Jia. That is why a group of us are setting up the Jia Foundation to protect and grow Montreal’s Chinatown’s cultural heritage with a focus on storytelling and placemaking.  We want to make sure the Chinatown that has witnessed our collective past, can help weave together our often untold and disjointed histories, and provide an opportunity to demonstrate what an inclusive, equitable and sustainable community can be.  

Who We Are

The following members of Chinatown Working Group with diverse backgrounds form the Jia Steering Committee to establish Jia Foundation as a non-profit cultural and community development organization in Montreal’s Chinatown.

Jessica Chen

City Planning Professional

Karen Cho

Documentary Filmmaker

Murielle Chan-Chu

Translator, Writer, Teacher

Jonathan Cha

Landscape Architect and heritage expert

Donny Seto

Urban Planning Professor

Parker Mah

Multimedia Artist and Community Organizer

Walter Tom

Human Rights Lawyer

Sandy Yep

Educator

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