How a CPA is restoring Chinatown’s vibrancy in Vancouver

By Vince Kanasoot
May 10, 2024
How a CPA is restoring Chinatown’s vibrancy in Vancouver
Photo credit: espion-iStock-Getty Images

When Beverley Pao, FCPA, FCA, vice-chair, Deloitte Canada and Chile, along with the rest of the board of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, helped open the Chinatown Storytelling Centre in 2021, she knew firsthand the importance of the Centre’s purpose. Beverley’s parents immigrated from Taiwan to Canada in the 1970s, where she was born. Throughout her childhood in Mississauga, Ontario, she appreciated the familiarity that the local Chinatown offered her family. Now a long-time Vancouver resident, Beverley’s volunteer work in preserving and innovating Vancouver’s Chinatown is one example of the many efforts highlighted this month, as May is Asian Heritage Month. It’s a special time to honour the culture and history of Asian communities in Canada, including acknowledging their achievements and contributions. 

The opportunity to get involved with the Chinatown Storytelling Centre came as part of Beverley’s volunteerism with the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, an organization that she is passionate about, given her commitment to keeping the history of the Chinese Canadian community alive while helping to lead the way forward. She understands the significance of Chinatown as a cultural hub and was inspired to get involved with the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation when she moved to the city.

Long considered a thriving Vancouver neighbourhood that served as a safe space for locals and a popular tourist attraction, conditions such as housing unaffordability and rising crime have threatened Chinatown’s vibrancy in recent years. In light of this, Beverley knew that innovative action was needed to bring resiliency to the community and restore some of its shine.   

The opening of the Chinatown Storytelling Centre, which hosts talks, theatre, and recreational and culinary activities, is one of many initiatives Beverley has supported during her ten-plus years of service with the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation. Other initiatives have included an economic revitalization program to assist and attract small businesses to the community, and low-income housing projects such as 58 West Hastings, for which the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation raised over $30 million and is expected to open its doors later this year.

“58 West Hastings is an innovative community housing project that will create 231 new homes in the Downtown Eastside, next to Chinatown,” she explains. “This project will help positively change the landscape of the surrounding community.”

For Beverley, who also serves as co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and Accessibility committees for the board of Deloitte Canada, her commitment to the local Chinese Canadian community is fueled by multiple reasons, including her dedication to amplifying diverse voices and making space for wider representation. For example, at the executive table.

“When I think about the importance of DEI, I think about the many times when I’ve been the only Asian female at the table. I’ve had to dismiss any thoughts of imposter syndrome,” Beverley says. “We need to work to remove imposter syndrome for everyone. That way, when people come to work, they can show up as their best selves.”

Beverley believes that harnessing the collective talents and backgrounds that people bring to the table will help Canada forge ahead. 

She says, “Canada has a bold future because we have such diverse communities. If we can move quickly alongside technology and drive businesses to think bigger and more competitively across the globe, there’s so much that this country can do.”

Beverley's photo is courtesy of Kent Kallberg Studios

Vince Kanasoot is a communications specialist with CPABC.