The term “Hapa” generally refers to an individual who is of mixed race with some Asian or Pacific Islander roots. Needless to say, growing up and identifying as a Hapa is an extremely unique and sometimes confusing experience. (Remember when elementary exams asked you to bubble in your ethnicity? Talk about confusing!) Thankfully, Vancouver aims to celebrate and bring awareness to the unique experience with the Hapa-palooza festival, the world’s largest celebration of mixed heritage and hybrid identity.
In recent years we have seen a large increase in the Hapa community. In America, for instance, the mixed-race population is growing faster than any other. A Korean American photographer was inspired by this and created the photo series “Mixed Blood,” which may be the future of many American families.
Canada has also seen a large growth in the mixed race population. NBC News uncovered statistics from Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey and reported:
The percentage of couples in which one spouse or partner is a member of a visible minority or both are from different visible minority groups has almost doubled in the past twenty years, from 2.6 percent of all couples in 1991 to 4.6 percent in 2011. The same survey shows that 1.97 percent of those who identified as Asian and 62.8 percent of those who identified as Pacific Islander also identified with another racial or ethnic group.
With citizens so rich in diversity, Vancouver decided that it was time to celebrate the Hapa community. After all, it has very little awareness despite the fact that identifying as a Hapa may cause confusion and an identity crisis.
“Canada prides itself on being a multicultural country, and Hapa-palooza explores the blending of various cultures and backgrounds,” says Zarah Martz, co-founder of the Hapa-palooza festival.
The festival has performances, panels, art and, most importantly, it serves as a space for the Hapa community to converse with others who also identify as mixed race.