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Lunar New Year festivities resume in Vancouver, but attention split by mass shooting in California

A series of dignitaries, including B.C. Premier David Eby and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, were present in Vancouver’s Chinatown as multiple events in Metro Vancouver celebrated the Lunar New Year.

Sunday marked the first day of the year in many Asian cultures, according to the lunisolar calendar.

And this year it’s the Year of the Rabbit — one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, with it being the Year of the Cat in Vietnamese culture.

In Vancouver, the Chinatown Spring Festival Parade returned for the first time since 2020. It’s considered the largest such parade in Canada.

Hundreds of people lined the streets to look at traditional lion and dragon dances, cultural dance troupes, marching bands, martial arts performances and more.

A group of people wearing traditional clothes at the front of a Lunar New Year parade, with a dragon and blue flags visible behind them.
The parade sees traditional lion and dragon dances, cultural dance troupes, marching bands, martial arts performances and more. (Genevieve Lasalle/Radio-Canada)

The parade is one of many in-person public events returning to Vancouver and other parts of B.C.

Two white men smile at the head of a parade of people, with a Sikh man off to their left.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, B.C. Premier David Eby and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh were all at the parade Sunday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

It saw the attendance of Trudeau, Eby, Conservative Leader Pierre Polievre, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim, among numerous others. 

A group of people hold up a large red and yellow dragon at a Lunar New Year parade.
Numerous dragon dances and other traditional celebrations were seen at the parade in Vancouver’s Chinatown. (Genevieve Lasalle/Radio-Canada)

Still, news of a shooting at a Lunar New Year event in California gave pause to people at the event, including the prime minister.

“We will be there for whatever support Canada can offer,” Trudeau told reporters before the parade began Saturday.

A Chinese dragon is pictured, with a large Chinatown gate in the background.
The parade came after two years off the streets of Chinatown due to the pandemic not allowing for large gatherings. Leaders say they hoped the event showed the importance of uniting against anti-Asian hate. (Genevieve Lasalle/Radio-Canada)

Despite the tragic events south of the Canada-U.S. border, thousands of Canadians still took to the streets to formally usher in what the Chinese zodiac system hails as the Year of the Rabbit.

“It’s a reminder of why we need to gather like this to fight hate, fight racism, get together and celebrate our cultural diversity here in B.C.,” Premier Eby told CBC News.

A person in a rabbit fursuit is pictured at a parade.
This year marks the Year of the Rabbit in Chinese culture. Under the Chinese zodiac, each year is named after one of 12 animals that rotate based on the lunisolar calendar. (Genevieve Lasalle/Radio-Canada)

Frank Huang, one of the coordinators of the parade, said he hoped the Year of the Rabbit would bring prosperity to Chinatown.

A collection of people pose with a red flag that reads 'Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival' at the head of a parade.
Numerous dignitaries, including the prime minister, opposition leaders, MPs and MLAs all attended the Chinatown parade. (Wildinette Paul/Radio-Canada)

Other events mark the occasion

Around Metro Vancouver, festival mainstays like the Aberdeen Centre’s countdown and flower fair also returned.

B.C. Liberal Party Leader Kevin Falcon was at the mall Saturday for the countdown, which also returned in-person this year.

WATCH | A tour through Aberdeen Centre during the festival: 

lunar new year festivities resume in vancouver but attention split by mass shooting in california 6

A tour through Richmond’s Aberdeen Centre as Lunar New Year approaches

8 days ago

Duration 1:37

Manager Tiffany Ho leads a tour of the vendors at Aberdeen Mall ahead of Lunar New Year celebrations — the first since pandemic measures ended.

People dressed in red hold up a long red and gold dragon on a stage in Aberdeen Centre.
Aberdeen Centre hosted a performance for Lunar New Year on Sunday, January 22 to cap off their 10 day-long celebration. (CBC )

Other events were also held to mark the occasion, such as a Year of the Rabbit celebration at Chinatown’s International Village mall, as well an art exhibition at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden.

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