The inaugural Gung Haggis Fat Choy Canadian Games begins a new tradition at SFU
The SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy™ Canadian Games began with me being piped in by piper Graeme
Pitches walking to Convocation Mall from the West (direction of
China), I read my poem “Gung Haggis Fat Choy,” the piper plays a
Strathspey, and Highland Dancer Lindsay McBlane is featured on the
stage of Convocation Mall. Meanwhile Chinese drums are
heard in the background. TV cameras were present from CITY TV,
Channel M and there were news photographers too! It was a good
“What's that I
hear? Someone has awakened the Lion” I say. And the Lion dancers
come to the centre of Convocation Mall and dance for lettuce, which
signifies good luck, if the Lion accepts your lettuce. After the
dance concludes, I thank and recognize the performers, then introduce
Dr. Jan Walls who explains the creation of the games and officially
opens the games.
“In their search to
create a unique event which would draw SFU's community together in a
socially physically active way, the staff in Department of Recreation
created the concept of “Gung Haggis Fat Choy Canadian Games”. The games
combine the unique cultural aspects of Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New
Year celebrations in a fun Cnaadian way at SFU. With our rich
Scottish heritage and large Asian student population, SFU is a natureal
place to recognize the relatively new celebration Gung Haggis Fat
Choy. This year's marquee event will be our 7 person dragon cart
races. It is our goal to grow this even to a week long campus
wide festival cross all cultural boundaries at SFU,” read Dr.
Walls in his best imitation of a Scottish accent.
The games consisted
of 12 teams of 7, competing in head to head elimination races in dragon
carts. Built by Bob Brinson, they are on a 4'x8' 3/4 plywood base
with two rear wheels and a single steering front wheel, like a
tricycle. From the race start the teams must use the “brooms”
(aluminum crutches) to propel the dragon cart the distance of about 100
Dragon Cart rules:
1. Physical contact with other team will result in disqualification of both teams.
2. All seven team members must be in the Dragon cart at all times.
3. Participants must use the “brooms” provided for propulsion.
4. Combined team weight can not exceed 1400 pounds.
5. Cart must stay on course.
As MC, I started
calling and improvising a play by play of the races. Initially I
mixed up the teams in the lanes, but was soon corrected. The
teams all looked like they were having fun. Dragon boat paddling
technique would make a big difference, as I could see teams paddling
out of time, and even caterpillaring. After each race, I would
call team members to the stage with me, so I could interview
them. I asked them questions about their team name, why they
decided to enter the race, what kind of training did they do, and even
what kind of race strategies they were using.
All of the races
were exciting, with the crowd really cheering on all teams. There
were some really close races, as I announced a photo finish that would
have to be decided by the judge. The team names were all
very funny: Fat Busters, Gung Haggis FAS Choy, Haggis Warriors, Dragon
Queens, Bar-bees, I Was There… Several university sports teams
were represented such as the Rowing Team, Woen's Soccer, Men's Soccer,
and Golf team.
demonstrated great sportsmanship and played along with my commentating
and interviewing them. When I interviewed a member of the Women's
Soccer Team, she admitted they were disappointed. I acknowledged
the team as being the winners of the NAIAA championships, and asked
them what went wrong today, as they are so good at kicking US butt.
“Yes, we kick US butt,” she yelled. She admitted it was a tough break,
but they were determined to come back and do better. “We'll be back,”
she told the crowd. It was great fun commentating and
interviewing the participants.
SFU Golf team made
the finals against the Gung Haggis FAS Choy (Faculty of Applied
Sciences). This would be the 4th race of the day for each team,
and they were getting tired. It was a close race, but at the
mid-point SFU Golf edged into the lead. FAS didn't give up, but
stayed with them, and Golf Team surged to win. The winning team
won Rice Paper subscriptions for each team member and 2 tickets to the
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.
The dragon carts
were also officially named from entries. Krista Vogt won the draw for
nominating one of the final names chosen. She won tickets for two
for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner. Her nomination was for John
Buchanan, the first men's soccer coach, 1st Recreation Director, and
the 1st men's Golf Coach. He is definitely a SFU pioneer.
The other name chosen was Rev. Chan Yu Tan. I don't know who
suggested it, but I knew all about him. Arriving in Canada in
1896, he was one of the first Chinese ordained in Canada, following the
footsteps of his elder brother Rev. Chan Sing Kai who had helped to
found the Chinese Methodist Church in Canada. He was also my
great great grandfather.
A great success for
all. Dragon cart builder, Bob Brinson, was happy to see his
creations being appreciated by so many people. It was very
exciting. Bob started the boats after much design research and
assembling the materials, then near-tragedy struck his daughter's
family as the North Vancouver landslide struck their house. Bob's
daughter and husband and 9 month old grandaughter were featured on the
news every night. It's a miracle they survived. And it's
very fortunate that Bob was able to finish building the boats despite
this near tragedy.