Business and Operations
Chinese dessert shop plays host to Indigenous art installation
December 19, 2022 By Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun
Markham, Ont. – Recently Honeymoon Dessert in Markham, as the first café predominately run and frequently visited by Chinese, ushered in a micro gallery art installation — the Canadian Library.
The Canadian Library (TCL) is a living art installation initiative created as a memorial to missing and murdered Indigenous woman, girls (MMIWG) and children. Its intention, as portrayed by team lead Shanta Sundarason, is to start important conversations and help educate all Canadians on the true history of Canada and the inequalities that still exist today.
After its formal public debut at Varley Art Gallery in Markham on Sept. 24, TCL has been installed in museums, public libraries, hospitals in the region and Ikea stores across Canada, while Honeymoon Dessert is the very first Chinese shop to bring it in.
“I think it’s extremely impactful for them to join in on the journey of helping to educate visitors on the true history of Canada,” Sundarason said, knowing the Chinese community is also passionate about understanding the atrocities that occurred here in Canada.
Sundarason noted TCL strongly believes that art, which traverses many boundaries, brings people together and transforms lives. Regardless of race, language or religion, the impact the arts have on each of us can be profound.
“Honeymoon has many customers that visit on a daily basis and I’m sure they will be confronted by the beautiful installation as enter the premises,” she said.
Raphael Lo, one of the co-owners of Honeymoon, shared his view on why he agreed to get behind this.
“We are new (minorities) to Canada, we want to learn what is happening in the city and the country,” Lo said. “We understand the difficulties that the Aboriginals are going through and something we feel that should be talked about and spreading awareness as well.”
As the first Chinese shop in the community willing to showcase the art installation, Lo said he understands other store owners may hesitate when faced with this proposal.
“Most restaurant owners are more like immigrants who just got here, struggling to making a living,” he said. However, the partners at Honeymoon, who are the second generation of immigration, are more acknowledgeable about what’s happening in Canada, and that’s why they want to pitch in more.
“For Chinese Canadians, we had our own personal history in Canada that is not so great,” said Lo, adding if something similar were to be done to increase awareness of Chinese history, he would be happy to get involved there too.
The goal of TCL is to collect 8,000 hardcover books, individually covered in Indigenous-inspired fabric. The names of lives lost, printed in gold letters, are placed on the spines of the books to evoke a sense of empathy, understanding and desire to see change.
TCL welcomes public contribution through donations or purchases that cover programming and fabric costs, donating hardcover books to be wrapped, and volunteering.
Interested businesses and local establishments can create their own micro gallery. More information is available at thecanadianlibrary.ca.
Scarlett Liu is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for the Economist & Sun.
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