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Vancouver is gearing up for the Hapa-palooza Festival, the world's largest celebration of mixed heritage and hybrid identity, to be held at locations throughout the city this month. The word “hapa” usually means a person who is part Asian or Pacific Islander, but festival organizers are taking a much more expansive view to include “mixed heritage and hybrid cultural identity.”

“Growing up there was little to no awareness about the experiences of being mixed,” says festival co-founder Zarah Martz. “Canada prides itself on being a multicultural country, and Hapa-palooza explores the blending of various cultures and backgrounds.”

The festival features a wide range of arts exhibitions, performances, panels, films, and even a family picnic in the park to cultivate community and conversation among people identifying as having mixed heritage, to generate public awareness, and to provide positive role models for the next generation.

According to Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey, 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.

Vancouver's "Hapa-palooza" bills itself as the world's largest celebration of mixed heritage and hybrid identity.Courtesy Hapa-palooza.