‘One Big Hapa Family’ explores future of Japanese-Canadian community: it’s about 100 percent hapa

One of the best things about Todd Wong’s Gung Haggis Fat Choy — a haggis-stuffed evening that melds Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations with Robbie Burns Night — is the unexpected revelations about Vancouver’s ever-changing diversity.

This year’s example was One Big Hapa Family, an award-winning documentary by Vancouver native Jeff Chiba Stearns. At a family reunion in 2006,  Stearns realized that everyone in his extended family had married outside the Japanese community. This documentary and animated feature explains why.

As his family members struggled to describe what they were — “half Japanese, half Canadian, but 100 percent Canadian” — Stearns stumbled on the Hawaiian term “hapa,” evolved by Japanese of mixed race on those islands to describe their ethnicity.

The result, in film and animation, is an insight into the possible evolution of multicultural Vancouver.

(More on One Big Hapa Family here.)