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Are You Ready? literASIAN is Back! October 9-12, 2014

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The Vancouver Asian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW) is pleased to announce the countdown to its much anticipated celebration of Pacific Rim Asian Canadian writing set for October 9th to 12th, 2014 in Vancouver, BC. As a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote awareness of Asian Canadian literature, history, and culture, ACWW provide a supportive and culturally sensitive environment for members from a common Pacific Rim Asian Canadian heritage. ACWW also is the publisher of Ricepaper Magazine.

The main venue for the festival is the UBC Learning Exchange situated in the middle of Vancouver’s historical Chinatown at 612 Main Street. The UBC Learning Exchange is a community engagement initiative that brings together a wide variety of people, and facilitates connections in the Downtown Eastside between local residents, organizations and the UBC Community.

LiterASIAN 2014: A Festival of Pacific Rim Asian Canadian Writing begins Oct. 9 – 12 and will feature authors, Fred Wah, Louise Bak, Tom Cho, Corinna Chong, Doretta Lau,Edwin Lee, Serena Leung, Kim Fu, Souvankham Thammavongsa, Yasuko Nguyen Thanh, Elsie Sze and Lily Chow. There will be author readings, book launches and book signings, a special poetry reading evening with open mike, Book fair, outreach event at Richmond Library and Cultural Centre and our second annual celebration dinner fundraiser at the Pink Pearl Restaurant.

LiterASIAN: a Festival of Pacific Rim Asian Canadian Writing is a community-building initiative by the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop and Ricepaper Magazine.

Interviews and photo opportunities are available.

For media inquiries contact Festival Director, Jim Wong-Chu -604-355-579 5
Website: www.asiancanadianwriters.ca | www.ricepapermagazine.ca/literASIAN

Anyone Interested in Seeing Chinese Canadian Treasure?

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Check out Larry Wong’s curation of the exhibition Bon Voyage / Bon Appétit: Menus from the Canadian Pacific Railway Company’s Ships, Trains, Planes, and Hotels is an exhibition that will be held from April 7 to December 24, 2014. Whether you prefer quick eats or fine dining, join us for an exhibition of eye-catching and mouth-watering Canadian Pacific Railway Company menus dating from the 1890s through the 1980s from the renowned Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection in the Rare Books & Special Collections of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, Level One, 1961 E Mall, Vancouver B.C. V6T 1Z1.

Chinese Head Tax apology for BC is incomplete… and not acceptable from CCNC

  • The head tax infamy actually started in 1885, 129 years ago… and continued long after MP Margaret Mitchell first asked Canadian Parliament for redress in 1984 – four years before Japanese Canadians were given an apology and redress in 1988. The Chinese Canadian National Council, which has fought for a fair and honourable redress for decades, declined the BC government apology, because it failed to symbolically address many issues including: 1) “the Apology motion lacks basic sincerity” 2) “Only the affected head tax families can accept this Apology and allow the reconciliation process to begin” (not newer immigrants who are not head tax descendants) and 3) “that the that there should be a symbolic return of these funds to the head tax families”
    But the Chinese Canadian National Council – which has fought for redress for decades, and played a major role in the 2006 Federal Apology declines the motion of Apology offered by the BC Legislature today.

    The CCNC press release states:

    CCNC has supported the Head Tax Families Society of Canada in seeking an inclusive redress with the BC Government. The BC Government is well aware of the role of past BC political leaders in fomenting anti-Chinese racism including receiving a significant share of the head taxes collected. Last year, CCNC provided the BC Government and all MLAs with a schedule of the head tax levies transferred which totals $8.5 million, a sum with a present value of about $1 billion today. CCNC takes the view that there should be a symbolic return of these funds to the head tax families.

    Unfortunately, the Apology motion lacks this basic sincerity.

    “A government should never be seen to be profiting from racism but this is what has happened here today,” Victor Wong, CCNC Executive Director said today. “Only the affected head tax families can accept this Apology and allow the reconciliation process to begin.”

    “We urge all MLAs to reflect on our views and to expend the effort to offer a meaningful apology to the Chinese Canadian community.”

    Founded in 1980, CCNC is a national non-profit organization with 27 chapters across Canada and a community leader for Chinese Canadians in promoting a more just, respectful, and inclusive society.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/…/apolog…/9842654/story.html

    www.vancouversun.com

    The Province of British Columbia formally apologized to Chinese Canadians Thursday for historical wrongs and racism dating back to Confederation.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2014: celebrating Chinese & Scottish & First Nations on St. Patrick’s Day weekend with Persian New Year music

It was a wonderful event on March 16th.  We had created the first ever Vancouver Squeezebox accordion parade for the 10th Annual Celticfest St. Patrick’s Day parade, walking beside our 5 person Chinese parade dragon – then we zipped down to the Floata Chinese Restaurant to prepare and set up the 17th annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

Here are some pictures and comments:

17th Annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner was one for the books. Welcome from Kwantlen Elder Natch and Musqueam Elder Larry Grant who spoke strong truth. Beautiful performances by Janet Rogers as a tribute to Pauline Johnson, Silk Road, Celtic accordionist Amy Stephen and her husband Amir Haghighi who sang a powerful and haunting Persian song. Thanks to Todd Wong and MCs Margaret and Patrick Gallagher for a great evening. – City councilor Andrea Reimer

Had such an awesome time at Gung Haggis Fat Choy last night… what a wonderful event created by Todd Wong! Great food, great company, tons of fun! – Amy Stephen

Another bonus from being at Gung Haggis Fat Choy was getting to meet Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher) from Night at the Museum! – Celtic Accordionist Amy Stephen

 

Wow! Thank you Todd Wong for inviting my father, Natch Antone and myself as two of several guests of honour and speakers to tonight’s celebration of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy- Robbie Burns, Chinese New Year, St. Patrick’s Day Feast @ Floata Chinese Restaurant in Vancouver.  It was time well spent with AMAZING company!!!! – Brandon Gabriel

Thank you Brandon – It was an honour to have you and your father at our head table. You are part of our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team family, and now part of our GHFC Dinner Family. You and I share our connections to the Scottish, Chinese and First Nations roots of this province. We recognize the racism and divides that have caused strife and discrimination, and we recognize that love and understanding, and especially the sharing of these cultures, can help make BC a better place. – Todd Wong

I think that’s what I was trying to impart…lol. It was nice to be in a place where all those beautiful heritages can be as one. I honestly felt like I was at a family reunion…lol.  Such good for energy and spirits in the room. It was palpable. My dad came up to me today and said he will never forget that night, and neither will I. – Brendan Gabriel

Gung Haggis Fat FAMILY…. so many family connections. You and your Dad,.. with Larry Grant from Musqueam… I introduced you to my cousins Shelley and her son Dakota from Qayqayt… Our sibling co-hosts Margaret and Patrick Gallagher… Silk Road Music who are friends with my cousins on Hornby Island… accordionist Amy Stephen brought her husband Amir and don Youssef to perform with her… My bagpiper friends, who play with me in a Celtic Ceilidh group… We are all family… All my relations. All our relations. We are indeed ONE. – Todd Wong

Hoping the weather turns nice for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade tomorrow.  Here is our gang from last year holding up our parade dragon.

We have always had a Gung Haggis Fat Choy entry… in the annual Celticfest St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  It was back at the 2004 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner that one of the organizers asked me to put together an entry.

“What kind of entry would you like?” I queried.

“Something multicultural…”

“How about a dragon boat?” I asked, without realizing how much work it would be.

For the next 3 years, I would arrange to put a Taiwanese dragon boat on a trailer, and borrow or rent a truck to haul the trailer…  and then one year… I had a flat tire on the trailer…

The next year, I was in Chinatown, and on an impulse… I bought a 5 person parade dragon.  So we have always had different kinds of dragons in the parade…. parade dragon… dragon puppets… even a dragon boat… This is an article from last year’s parade. http://www.gunghaggis.com/2013/03/20/6508/

Our group is entry number 64 of 74 entries.  We meet at the marshalling area on the West side of the Granville St. Bridge – close to mid-span.  We meet at 10am, Our car/float will be in place by 9:30am.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts at 11am. It will follow the same route as in 2013, beginning on Howe and Davie, proceeding north along Howe to Georgia, and ending at Georgia & Granville Streets.

“Festival organizers estimate crowds exceeding 200,000 will line the route to cheer on 2000+ parade participants, which they anticipate will include award-winning pipe and drum bands, Celtic musicians, Scottish and Irish dancers, acrobats, stilt walkers, vintage cars, the Vancouver police motorcycle drill team and pipe band, fire and police dogs,  mounted horse drill teams, multi-cultural organizations and performers, local businesses, distinguished guests and many more.”  http://www.celticfestvancouver.com/parade.php

Global Weekend News – Lynn and Jay go Gung Haggis Fat Choy!

Global Weekend News – March 15th,

Thanks to Global News for having me as “chef” this morning. I brought some some pre-cooked haggis dim sum from Floata Restaurant, that are used as an appetizer dish for our Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

I showed hosts Lynn and Jay how to fold haggis & prawns won ton, but the wrappings were a bit too small and dry.  But they really enjoyed tasting the haggis & prawns dumplings that I had picked up from Floata Restaurant the night before.  Re-heated dim sum… mmmm…. yum….

This dinner is a fundraiser, for Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop / Ricepaper Magazine, and for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  We serve a full Chinese banquet dinner with traditional haggis + fusion haggis cuisine.  About half the dishes are vegetarian, including hot & sour soup, turnip cake, deep-fried spicy tofu, and buddhist feast.

And Robbie Burns poetry is featured in many different forms… We are very pleased to feature Victoria Poet Janet Marie Rogers to read Pauline Johnson poetry, as well as her own spoken word poetry.  Our featured Asian-Canadian author is Janie Chang, just nominated for a BC Book Prize for fiction for her novel Three Souls.  Brandon Gabriel will read a poem by his great grandfather William Slepass, a Kwantlen First Nations Chief.

Featured musical performers are Silk Road Music’s Qiu Xia He and Andrew Thibault – who were featured in the CBC television special Gung Haggis Fat Choy in 2004.  Celtic accordionist Amy Stephen will bring her husband Amir Haghighi for a special treat – perhaps combining Celtic music with Persian music for a St. Patrick’s Day Persian New Year fusion.

And of course, we have lots of great raffle prizes from Vancouver Opera, City Opera, Firehall Arts Centre, Harbour Publishing, Tradewind Books, Arsenal Pulp Press, Dr. Sen Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens and more!

Tickets for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year St. Patrick’s Day Dinner… Sunday March 16th, Floata Restaurant, Vancouver Chinatown – can still be bought today online at Ricepaper.ca and Gunghaggis.com http://www.flickr.com/photos/53803790@N00/sets/72157642392921354/

2014 Gung Haggis dinner taste-testing

Spicy Jelly fish (centre), pan-fried turnip cake (left), steamed haggis & shrimp har-gow (top), vegetarian spring rolls (right).

Wednesday March 12 – we always have a taste-testing dinner to make sure the food meets our expectations. This is especially important when the kitchen doesn’t normally cook with haggis, and we are aiming for something special for our guests. This year, the kitchen was more adventurous, and made us 3 different haggis dim sum dishes. Haggis & pork shu-mei, steamed haggis & prawns har-gow dumplings, and the shanghai styled haggis & prawns won ton dumplings.

Inside the delicious Gung Haggis dim sum are: prawn meat, green onions, water chestnut, diced carrots, haggis + secret ingredients!

Traditional haggis, is served with a vegetarian lettuce wrap.

Buddhist Feast with fun-see noodles (rice vermicelli)

Mongolian Beef with Broccoli

 

missing from pictures: Hot & Sour soup, vegetariam lettuce wrap, mango pudding and sesame cookie things

Purchase dinner event tickets online here:

Gung Haggis Fat Choy – March 16, 2014 Tickets, Vancouver

https://www.eventbrite.ca/…/gung-haggis-fat-choy-march-16-2014-ticket

50 pounds of haggis – ready to be transformed into Chinese cuisine!

50 pounds of Haggis, that I picked from custom haggis maker Bruce Roane this morning.  It is now delivered to Floata Restaurant in Vancouver Chinatown where it will be readied and served with for sweet ‘n’sour sauce and/or BBQ plum sauce, for Sunday’s Gung Haggis Fat Choy St. Patrick’s Weekend Dinner.  And it is going to be served both traditional style, and also transformed into Chinese dim sum appetizers!

For 2014, we are featuring Bruce Roane’s custom haggis.  You won’t find it easily anywhere.  You have to track Bruce down… and custom order – if you want some of the best haggis around.

Back in 2009, I was attending a reception at the Scottish Parliament Buildings, for the final event of 2009 Year of Homecoming.  My friend Harry McGrath who had organized the exhibit “This is Who We Are” which featured a life size picture of me, was just about to introduce me to the First Minister Alex Salmond, who earlier that day had just helped to re-open the renovated and reimagined Robert Burns Cottage, down in Alloway, Ayrshire County.  But a pretty blonde woman, burst into the line up, saying “Excuse me, but I have to meet you.  My uncle makes the best haggis in Vancouver, and you have to meet him for your Gung Haggis Fat Choy event.”

Well… I admit that I didn’t use Bruce Roane’s haggis for the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.

But at the 2010 BC Highland Games, I had a booth for Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  And a pretty blonde woman came up my booth and said “Hi, remember me, we met in Scotland.”

In the past years, I have eaten Bruce Roane’s haggis at Burns Suppers for the Robert Burns Society of Vancouver, and the JP Fell Pipe Band.  With my friends, and many people, there are lively discussions on the quality of the haggis.  Some people love a Peter Black haggis, which we have used for the past 10 years.  Some people “dinna like it”.  Some people love a Bruce Roane haggis – others “dinna like it, either”.

My opinion: It’s a good haggis, and I like it.  And it’s going to be served at the 2014 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year St. Patrick’s Day Dinner on March 16th.

And it is going to be magically transformed into tasty deep-fried haggis won ton, and delicately prepared haggis dim sum…  and people will rave to their friends, “Wow – you have to taste this!”

Also on the menu will be: Chinese pan-fried turnip cake (low-bak-goh) and steamed haggis & pork dumplings (siu-mei), served alongside spicy jelly fish. 

 

Vancouver Opera’s Don Giovanni brings out the Italian in everybody

Just call me Todderico Wongiovanni.   I felt very Italian attending the Vancouver Opera’s Don Giovanni opera on March 1st.  Mozart is always very accessible, and I have always remembered the Commendatore Scene from both the play and movie Amadeus.  “Don Giovanni” – the ghost of the commendatore sings… in baritone.

This story is based on the womanizing character of Don Juan/Don Giovanni, performed on different nights by Daniel Okulitch and Brett Polegato.  On Opening night Okulitch was a perfect rake, playing women against each other, lying with deceit, and masterminding his selfish games for his own purpose.

The other principal roles of Donna Anna and Donna Elvira, as well as the Commendatore (Donna Anna’s father) are also all played by double performers.  On opening night Erin Wall and Krisztina Szabo were brilliant in their seductions and seductee roles.

The highlight of this opera is the set design with multiple projections that easily and quickly tranform a castle ballroom into an outside street scene and back again.  The creative figures of statues and use of angles give an imaginative depth of field.

Inventive was also the use of a walkway surrounding the orchestra pit, that allowed the performers to come closer to the audience and give more room for staging.  It really felt more intimate with the four lead singers standing so close to the audience and singing, However, the orchestra seemed more muffled, and less brilliant in sound quality.

For the last decade, we have expected and received nothing less than perfection from Vancouver Opera.  This production is the first exception. The singers and orchestra were grand, of course, but the staging left a lot to be desired.  Having the stage extend out into the audience and around the orchestra pit created the difficulty of having the singers have to project even farther over the pit and stage. This created some balance problems where the singers were hard to hear, and the orchestra sounded small and muted. The Opera has been experimenting recently with “audience engagement.” They have brought in performers before the shows to mingle with the audience, and have a photographer at the entrance for guests to create a souvenir of the evening, and for the Opera to use in future promotions and on social media. Look at us, were having a great night out!

The images were spectacular, but could also be distracting. A night out at the opera is always an evening to be celebrated.  The roles were well cast, and the story, while long, did not drag. VO is to becongratulated for the exceptional quality of the shows, and their attempts to stay modern and relevant in the 21st century.  I truly appreciate the way they are reaching out to new audiences and taking chances on commissions and unusual programming.