On the border of Burnaby and Coquitlam lies a cultural neighbourhood that is not often recognized - the Korean district.
Numerous Korean businesses line North Road, including Hannam Supermarket, which will be the final destination for a parade this Saturday celebrating seven Canadian missionaries who travelled to Korea and had a profound impact there, according to one of the organizers, Abraham Lim.
The parade is one of a handful of events taking place this week throughout the region to celebrate the relationship between Canada and Korea, he said.
The first was the opening event at the Grace Community Church in Surrey, which took place on Tuesday and featured the former prime minister of Korea, Chung Un-Chan, as well as the Marantha Dance Group from Seoul, Korea.
Two federal ministers were also in attendance, according to Lim, as well as Senator Yonah Martin, who is of Korean descent.
"She's touched many people," Lim said. "She's why many (Korean) Canadians come here."
The dance group will perform at four other locations throughout the week - at Myung Sung Methodist Church of Greater Vancouver in Burnaby on Friday at 7:30 p.m.; at Holy Trinity Cathedral in New Westminster on Saturday at 7 p.m., and on Sunday, at the Vancouver Korean Full Gospel Church in Burnaby at 10:50 a.m. and at Coastal Church in Vancouver at 7 p.m. The parade on Saturday will begin at 4 p.m. at Blue Mountain Park in Coquitlam and is scheduled to end at the Hannam Supermarket at 4501 North Rd. in Burnaby at about 6 p.m., according to the committee in charge of organizing the 50th Year of Canada and Korea celebrations.
The seven Canadian missionaries honoured in the parade each made important contributions to Korea in such areas as health, literature and translation, and supporting Korea's culture and independence, as well as building churches and teaching Christian doctrine, according to Lim.
James Scarth Gale, Francis W. Schofield, Oliver R. Avison, William John McKenzie, Sherwood Hall, Robert A. Hardie and Malcolm C. Fenwick will all be celebrated in the parade.
While the events are primarily to honour the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Canada, Canadian missionaries have been travelling to Korea for more than 100 years.
Prime Minster Stephen Harper declared 2013 The Year of Korea (and Korean Prime Minister Kwang-sik Kim declared it The Year of Canada in Korea) in honour of the long-standing relationship.
The Lower Mainland celebrations will also include banners, and a 46-page commemorative pamphlet on the relationship between the two countries will be handed out at the parade, Lim said.
Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Jane Shin, who is of Korean descent, said in an interview last week that she would be at the opening ceremony.
"It's a pretty significant event," she said.
According to Shin, her constituency has the highest concentration of Korean-Canadians in the Lower Mainland.
According to 2011 Statistics Canada census data, 7,145 residents of Burnaby consider Korean their mother tongue, out of a total of 48,975 British Columbians.
This year also marks another important moment in the relationship between the two countries - the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.
Earlier this year, Shin joined Port Moody resident Guy Black, a Korean War veteran, on a portion of his 82-kilometre walk to ensure the war is not forgotten.
Last weekend, Shin joined Black as he travelled with a crew up Seymour Mountain to place a plaque at Hastings Lake.
The lake was recently named to honour Pte. Donald Hastings, a North Shore soldier who died in the Korean War.
© Copyright 2013