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4 Concordians share their pride during Asian Heritage Month

VIDEO SERIES: Alumni, faculty and staff honour their roots by strengthening community
May 3, 2023
By Louise Morgan, GrDip 99

A mosaic of three women and one man. All are graduates of Concordia University. From left: France Stohner, Donny Seto, Aishwarya Nandakumar and Karen Cho

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. To mark the occasion, four Concordians of Asian descent share their insights in our video series rolling out throughout the month.

Each of these graduates is working to preserve and build communities honouring their Asian heritage and culture in Canada. Learn more about our alumni, at the university and beyond, below.

Portrait of a man wearing a button-up shirt and glasses

Donny Seto

Donny Seto, BA 04, MA 08, is a lecturer in Concordia’s Department of Geography, Planning and Environment.

He is also a filmmaker and community organizer with the Montreal Chinatown Working Group, which started as a small group of volunteers in 2018 to fight against accelerated gentrification efforts in the city’s Chinatown. Working alongside community partners, the group has since helped establish provincial status for some of the most historical parts of Chinatown. 

Portrait of a woman wearing white T-shirt and khaki blazer

Karen Cho

Based in Montreal, Karen Cho, BFA 01, is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and a producer, writer and director for documentary TV and web series.

A graduate of the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Cho's credits include In the Shadow of Gold Mountain (2004), Seeking Refuge (2009) and Status Quo? The Unfinished Business of Feminism in Canada (2012), and most recently Big Fight in Little Chinatown (2022), which uses extensive archival material and first-person testimonials to tell a story of resilience in the face of expropriation, gentrification and racism.

Cho is also a community organizer with the Montreal Chinatown Working Group.

Portrait of a woman wearing black turtleneck and gold pendant

France Stohner

France Stohner, BA 13, is a Philippine-born mental-health counsellor and community organizer. She founded Centre Kapwa, a non-profit organization supporting the mental health and wellness of Filipino youth and their families.

In 2021, Stohner ran for city council in Montreal’s municipal elections representing the Snowdon district for Courage – Équipe Sue Montgomery, with a goal to help break barriers for Black, Indigenous, people of colour and diverse communities. Stohner is a graduate of Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute, who majored in women’s studies.

Portrait of a woman with large gold earrings

Aishwarya Nandakumar

Originally from Bangalore, India, Aishwarya Nandakumar, BA 18, joined Kannada Koota — an organization that exists around the world to promote the language, art, heritage and culture of people from India’s Karnataka state — when her family moved to Montreal. She has since become actively involved in her community as a traditional Indian dancer and volunteer.

Nandakumar is a current staff member at Concordia’s University Advancement office, where she first started as a student, and now serves the department as alumni engagement officer, Faculty Strategy. She graduated from Concordia with a double major in political science and women’s studies.

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