This footage documents a series of four of Derek Kwan’s birthdays in Vancouver in the nineties between October 1991 and 1994.
In October 91, the setting is a Mcdonald’s ball pit in the greater Vancouver area.
Surrounded by friends, family and cousins, Kwan and other kids are wearing the Mcdonald’s card paper hats eating birthday cake, with his mom sitting behind him. At present opening time, seen in the shot is his uncle, cousins, and grandma.
For Derek’s 3rd birthday in October 1992, we are located in Richmond, a suburb 20 minutes away from the city of Vancouver. We are indoors and adults are encouraging Derek to hit a pinata of Mickey Mouse’s head that was made by Derek’s mom, Victoria. She loved to create themed birthday parties, and DIY party favors with her friends, and Derek remembers having a pinata every year, until he got too old for it.
Victoria made the pinata incredibly strong, and it’s very difficult to break. Eventually the adults jump in and start helping the kids break through the Mickey pinata. Derek shares: “Disney holds cache to it as a kid growing up in the 90s as the happiest place on earth.”
Each year, when Derek opens his gift, he consistently receives boxes from the Bay, which he notes is interesting as a staple Canadian store. At his third birthday he also receives a table hockey set, another inherently Canadian gift, and the family excitedly surrounds the set.
At Derek’s fourth birthday in 1993, we are located at Chuck E Cheese. Much like the McDonald’s ball pit, Chuck E Cheese was a go-to sport for 90s kids birthday parties. Derek receives action figures, and a ninja turtle toy.
Documented at Derek’s fifth birthday in 1994, is Derek’s childhood home in East Vancouver, where he lived during elementary and high school. We see the backyard and kids playing surrounding the basketball hoop.
Derek shares that thoughts of being Chinese took a back seat and he didn’t think too deeply about it growing up. East Vancouver was very diverse and being white was the minority. He grew up around Chinese, Vietnamese, Philipino and East Indian people. Although race wasn’t a forefront in Derek’s mind, it was brought to his attention during family functions when everyone spoke Cantonese, and for cultural festivals like Chinese New Year.