Immigrant stories from South Hill

The South Hill neighbourhood in Vancouver is comprised of residents coming from as far east as China and as close to home as Manitoba. This immensely diverse community, located around Fraser Street from 41st Avenue till down the river, could just be another typical Vancouver neighbourhood.

However, South Hill begs to differ as what sets this multi-ethnic community apart is its openness to invite strangers to come in and get to know them -- virtually. InsideStories makes this possible by creating an amazing interactive web documentary depicting some of the colourful lives of South Hill’s residents. As you navigate through the site, you will see a line of homes, businesses and community buildings on a South Hill street. By clicking, you are able to meet the person behind those doors and unearth a story waiting to be shared.  


The Alice McKay Room located in downtown Vancouver’s Public Library plays host to the creators of Inside Stories and to South Hill’s residents themselves. The night started off with a video of Erwin Cornelsen. Born in Prussia, he relates to us how he finds comfort in a group of Chinese Canadians singing Mandarin hymns. Jinder Johal’s story captivated the audience the most as she speaks about migrating to Canada and meeting her father, a complete stranger and an alcoholic. We also get a glimpse of the life of Hardeep Singh, as he struggles to get through high school being bullied, not by Canadians, but by other Indian kids.


"Social capital" was a term that resonated in my mind the whole evening. Every community aspires to build social capital. It is sort of like a bank deposit. For every interaction with our neighbour, we treat it as an investment to our bank account. Only difference is, it actually has a guaranteed rate of return.

The theme of the night focused on developing deep and meaningful connections with your neighbour. If you knew their background, would you treat them differently? Would you empathize instead of criticize?
As cliche as it sounds, we all need a place where we feel we belong.
Inside Stories is the brainchild of award winning film-maker Nettie Wild, photographer Shannon Mendes and web designer Jeremy Mendes.

Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.