Dr. Benjamin Cheung to teach ACAM course on Health among the Asian Diaspora in Canada

ACAM 320B: Health Among the Asian Diaspora in Canada will explore the intersection of culture and race with individual and community wellbeing. With the Asian diaspora accounting for a large portion of the population in Canada, it is natural for this group to be subjected to multiple experiences, which could then have an impact on their health.

Benjamin Cheung

The course, taught by Psychology Lecturer Dr. Benjamin Cheung, will cover questions such as “What is the role of culture in defining health for Asian Canadians?” and “How do the experiences of Asian Canadians affect their health?”

This course trailer provides an overview of the course content.


As his first non-psych course, Dr. Cheung spoke to us about his motivations for and connection to the course.

What interested/motivated you in creating this course?

This course was actually borne out of a conversation with the ACAM Director, Dr. Christopher Lee after one of ACAM’s Long Table Dialogue sessions on racism in academia. The dialogue session brought up a lot of experiences in my own life that I hadn’t fully processed, the impact of which I hadn’t fully articulated in my mind until that time. Dr. Lee and I chatted afterwards to just talk about some of these events I had experienced, and I had talked about how it would’ve been great if a course on immigrant health had been offered when I was an undergrad. Then, as often happens in academia, when someone proposes something, they also unwittingly volunteer themselves to make their own idea come to fruition. Funny how no one ever remembers this when they muse openly about something new and exciting. Coming from a social science/psychological background, Dr. Lee thought I would be in a good position to lead such a course.

What do you think YOU can learn from students while teaching this course?

I hope to learn about students’ personal experiences. This isn’t simply a lecture-based course – it’s one that is based on discussions, community, and sharing. I hope to learn how their identities have changed as part of the Asian diaspora in Canada. I hope to learn how their experiences have shaped their identities. Really, I just hope to learn more about these students and hopefully, this provides an opportunity for students to process their experiences in ways that I couldn’t as an undergraduate student. Also, a lot of students have already thought about their experiences in very deep and profound ways. I want to learn from them the kinds of perspectives that they’ve used and gained in thinking about their experiences.

Why do you think discussing health among the Asian diaspora in Canada is important?

Health is an inherent part of our lives – what we eat, what we do, what we think, and the people with whom we associate. Sometimes we have insight into some aspects of what contributes to our health, and the health of the various Asian diasporic communities; but there can always be blind spots to our awareness. Having a comprehensive understanding of health is better for ourselves, and the communities around us. And if we desire to live in an equitable society, community health must be the heart of our concerns. Understanding various aspects of society that impact the health of the Asian diaspora in Canada allows students to become agents of change in society, facilitating the creation of a more equitable society.

ACAM 320B: Health Among the Asian Diaspora in Canada is offered in Term 2 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:30PM-2:00PM.


Human migration from Asia onto Turtle Island has taken place since the 16th century, and into what’s known today as Canada since the 18th century. Today, the Asian diaspora accounts for almost 20% of the population in Canada, numbering over 6 million – the inclusion of sojourners (e.g. international students, visiting scholars) likely significantly boosts this number. This highly heterogenous group consists of speakers of over 40 different languages, and people who claim heritage from over 30 countries across the Asian continent. As such, the Asian diaspora in Canada has, creates, and is subjected to, a wide range of experiences – all of which have an impact on their health. This course will explore different types of experiences and topics that relate to the health of the Asian diaspora in Canada, including issues around identity, discrimination, conceptualizations of health, and how various Asian conceptualizations of health embodied by the diaspora may intersect with Indigenous notions of health in Canada.