Mina Chan


Mina is a singer-songwriter and pianist residing on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations (“Vancouver, BC”) whose music lies between the border of fantasy and reality. Taking inspiration from classic fairy tales and legends, as well as modern ones such as anime, she aims to create dreamlike worlds to get lost in through her piano and lyrics, and to inspire people even in the darkest times in life.

She released her first album, Storytime, in 2021. Inspired by oral storytelling traditions, the songs together tell a story of a girl who goes on a magical journey of self-discovery after seeing a strange vision in the sky, and the fellow travelers she meets. She is currently planning a second album with a more carnivalesque theme.

Being Asian-Canadian in the performing arts feels like an opportunity to make my voice and those of others heard in the unique way music can convey. I am fortunate to live in a city with a substantial and Asian community, so I can easily stay connected despite being two generations removed from my Chinese roots. Nonetheless, I am also aware of my responsibilities as an uninvited guest on unceded and stolen territory from the Indigenous host nations to support their reclamation of their land from the devastating legacy of colonialism.

As a nonbinary Asian who takes on a femme identity, I live under the shadow of the colonial male gaze, propagated by media that treats Asian women as mere trophy commodities. I have been hit on several times by men unwarranted, and had my gender identity dismissed as a “trap” by others. AIthough I got off relatively easy, it is still uncomfortable to be reminded of how I’m perceived. Even now, writing this makes me wary of online commenters who look for any reason to dismiss objectification as a non-issue at best.

Nonetheless, as a songwriter, I can channel this discomfort into empowerment. Some of my recent songs are about defying the gaze to asserting my own identity. Admittedly, for one song, this is a fancy way of saying I like miniskirts, but even that is me wanting to reclaim a symbol originally created by women for women. One of my other songs was written as a parody of the Madama Butterfly narrative ending with the Asian woman breaking free.

I could say my greatest material achievement is my first album, but to be honest, I feel the greatest accomplishment in the community I’ve connected with here. People of all ages, races, and genders in the arts community have been very supportive. Even in the face of gentrification, I am still grateful for the hugely diverse arts community that gives me and other minorities venues to express our voice, and I will continue to support the wider community to maintain that. I hope to continue making and hearing songs together with everyone.