Story of Schema

Schema Magazine's prototype cover and table of contents (2004)

Schema Magazine’s prototype cover and table of contents (2004)

In 2003, Alden E. Habacon, Schema Magazine’s founder, began to rethink the idea of the ethno-cultural “mosaic” and concluded that it was an obsolete concept in what he calls Canada’s Diversity 2.0.

With a handful of like-minded Asian Canadian creative leaders and the support of some of Vancouver’s influential mentors, we envisioned a magazine about today’s real-life diverse mainstream, aimed at those who recognized that they were informed by their ethnicity, but no longer defined by it. We wanted our magazine to really reflect us—and our cosmology as the most culturally mobile, ethnically diverse, globally connected generation of Canadians to date.

We wanted to illuminate the complex diversity we intuitively live everyday. After all, there were cultural spaces to explore, the results of immigration, family roots and our connection to diverse cities all over the world.

We borrowed the term “cultural navigators,” to describe our role as travellers through a complex web of communities. We are a generation that can map our fluid cultural identities. We call this dynamic trail a schema.

We launched Schema Magazine’s “Daily Dose of Ethnic Cool” in February 2004.

Initially a “web log”, it set out to explore the unique evolution of diversity in the lives of cultural navigators—through design, food, music, art, film, or comic books—all that stuff that cultural navigators actively consume or create as part of their daily lives. In June 2009, Schema Magazine expanded to include an editorially-driven section called InDepth, regularly publishing feature articles, profiles, travelogues and commentary. Our first “release” addressed the question “But where are you really from?”, speaking to one of the most common experiences of cultural navigators in North America.

Canada is still changing.

Cultural navigators, often over-simplified as ethnic or visible minorities, are the fastest growing segment of the general population. Our original intention was to burst through outdated paradigms, but what we have also created is a space where anyone interested in our explorations, our journeys and our complexities can feel included.