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The Vivian Jung Project Fundraiser: Help Tecumseh Honour VSB’s First Teacher of Chinese Descent

Splash! Odes to Vivian Jung

In honour of education trailblazer and human rights activist, Vivian Jung, Tecumseh Elementary is raising funds to paint a mural at their school in her honour. You can help! Read below to learn more about Vivian, her connection to Tecumseh, and how to support the fundraiser. 


A teacher, a trailblazer, an anti-racism activist: these are just a few of the terms commonly used to describe Vivian Jung. This year would have marked her 100th birthday. In her honour, Tecumseh Elementary’s Anti-Racism Committee has embarked on a project to celebrate the life and legacy of their school’s former teacher, and VSB’s first teacher of Chinese descent. With the help of Vancouver’s Poet Laureate, Fiona Tinwei Lam and Tecumseh AIRS artist-in-residence, Julie McIntyre, the school has put together a book of student poetry titled, Splash! Odes To Vivian Jungcover%201%201-2.png

Through selling the book, Tecumseh hopes to raise funds to paint a mural at the school’s entrance as a tribute to Jung. The mural will be a school-wide project next year involving students, staff, and artists, Janet Wang and Stella Zheng. 


Who was Vivian Jung? 
Jung was born in 1924 in Merritt B.C. As a woman of Chinese descent, she was no stranger to prevalent racism. When she was 21, Jung began to pursue a career path in education and completed the credentials required to become a teacher with the Vancouver School Board (VSB): except one. To qualify as a full-time teacher, Jung needed to obtain a swimming lifesaver certificate.

However, segregation rules at the time prevented non-white people from swimming with white people in public pools, and Jung was denied entry to Crystal Pool at Sunset Beach (Vancouver’s only public swimming pool at the time). 

Spearheading desegregation in Vancouver 
Despite ongoing discrimination, Jung would not be detoured. Her instructor and classmates also rejected this racial injustice. They staged a protest and refused to enter the pool until Jung could join. This act of solidarity marked a pivotal point in desegregation in Vancouver’s public spaces, bringing the pool’s long-standing colour bar to an end. Jung became the first woman of Chinese descent to use a public swimming pool. She continued to persevere and received her swimming certification – she could then complete her teacher training and would go on to become a leader in dismantling racial discrimination. 

Joining VSB 
Jung was hired by VSB in 1951, as the District’s first teacher of Chinese descent. She would continue to teach at Tecumseh Elementary School for the next 35 years. While working at Tecumseh, Jung was both a dedicated teacher and coach. Under her leadership, the Tecumseh girls volleyball team became league winners for numerous years. Her community contributions continued as a volunteer for several community groups and teaching Tai Chi. 

Jung-and-PrincipaLightbodyl1963-1-940x400.jpgVivian Jung (upper right) and Principal, Mr. Lightbody (upper left) pose with the Tecumseh School League Winners – Girls Volleyball, Vancouver School District (1963). Provided by VSB Archives & Heritage. 

An on-going legacy 
Today, Jung’s legacy lives on. In 2012, Vancouver's Civic Asset Naming Committee was formed, tasked with advising Vancouver’s city council about how to name the city’s streets and parks. As part of an initiative to diversify the city’s street names, in 2017, council voted unanimously in favour of naming eight laneways in Vancouver’s West End after figures who had a postive impact on Vancouver. Located between Harwood Street and Beach Avenue, Jung Lane was named in her honour. 

As we reflect on Jung's story, we admire her not only for her dedication as an educator and community leader, but for her resilience and strength in advocating for change. Her legacy is a reminder about the power of standing up against injustice, and the importance of continuing to work toward a more inclusive society – a challenge still before us today in many ways. 

Help support the fundraiser 
You can help Tecumseh observe Jung’s legacy! Between May 12 – May 31, purchase the book of student poetry, Splash! Odes To Vivian Jung, to help the school reach their goal of selling 400 books. They are $15 each, and all proceeds will support the mural project. Learn more and purchase a book today!

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