|The Asian Mystique by Sheridan Prasso
|Prize-winning journalist and Asia expert Sheridan Prasso reads from her new book The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, & Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient.
This is a provocative critique of the West's eroticized illusions about
Asia and how profoundly these illusions colour our social, cultural,
business, personal, and political interactions.
|Wednesday, June 29th 2005
The Canadian Club is one of Canada's oldest and prestigious
associations, founded in 1906. There are chapter clubs all across
Click here for the list
I was invited to join the board of the Canadian Club, and was elected
at the 2005 Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, June 28th. And so
I join other illustrious board directors such as the Hon. Garde Gardom,
former Lt. Gov. of BC. Tuesday's luncheon honoured all the
winners of the SOARS program, which recognizes excellence for high
school students in the areas sucha as academics, sports, citizenship.
Following the luncheon, The Hon. Garde Gardom made a gracious
point of congratulating each of SOARS winners as well as the new board
The Canadian Club is planning on presenting more special events rather
than their monthly luncheons. This is both to reflect the
increasing diversity and specialness of Canada. I know that
I am looking forward to contributing to the programming and
presentation side of theses events.
With Sunnette Jones and Bruce Jarvis – photo by Margaret Ferguson
What a busy multicultural weekend!
I attended both BC Highland Games in Coquitlam and Greek Day in
Vancouver. Both were very promotional of their respective
cultures, but each had a very different atmosphere.
BC Highland Games is
held at Coquitlam Town Centre Stadium. There are competitions for
Highland Dancing, Piping, Drumming as well as sports events such as
caber tossing etc. There is also a “market” set up for vendors +
information booths for the various clans and Scottish heritage
societies. The beer garden opened up in the late afternoon. For the
evening there is a concert. The big highlight is the Grand parade
of the Pipe Bands.
Greek Day is a multi-block long
“block party.” All the restaurants set up mini bbqs on the sidewalk +
there are food stands for Greek foods + wine and beer. There were
two main stages set up on cross streets that featured Greek traditional
dancing and musical performances. We were able to catch the
closing ceremonies where all the VIP's got a chance to say
something. These included the consul from the Greek Consulate,
Premier Gordon Campbell who introduced the new provincial finance
minister Carole Taylor and former Vancouver Mayor Art Phillips, Acting
Mayor Fred Bass (in Larry Campbell's absence) + some of the key
Streams of people moved East and West along Broadway and I found I
missed the sea of kilts I experienced the previous day. It was amazing
to be immersed in “Everything Scottish” and I wished it could have been
for so for Greek Day too… but walking admidst all the people enjoying
the Greek theme block party… I decided I would love to see a
“Hawaiian Day” party somewhere in Vancouver – where everybody could be
“Hawaiian, and we could celebrate the Hawaiian pioneer culture in BC,
where the “kanaka's” lived in Ft. Langley and on Saltspring Island, and
where Hawaiian culture is celebrated every winter by Vancouverites
travelling to the Hawaiian Islands… oh and I want to start a
Scottish Day festival… where everybody can walk around in Kilts –
maybe along Water St in Gastown, and we can celebrate the Scottish
pionneers who helped build Vancouver in the 1800's.
Gim Wong and son Jefferey arrived in Sudbury Ontario,
Their Toronto arrival is expected for Sunday.
Lily Cheung <email@example.com> wrote:
I just got off the phone with Yew from Sudbury. He mentioned Gim and
Jeffery will be arriving between 5pm - 6pm in Toronto at CCNC tomorrow
Would anyone be interested in meeting with them before heading down to
Bright Pearl Restaurant for 6:30pm? I'll be at the CCNC office in the
afternoon to make some phone calls. Just call and let me know.
See below for a newstory from
The Sudbury Star.
By Laura Stradiotto/The Sudbury Star
Saturday, June 25, 2005 - 11:00
Local News - Gim Foon Wong has just finishing riding 1,000 km in the
last two days on his Gold Wind motorcycle.
“It’s a miracle we’re here,” said Wong, tired but alert after arriving
in Sudbury at 3 a.m. Friday.
The 82-year-old left Beacon Hill Park in Vancouver on June 3 and is
travelling across Canada in an effort to raise awareness about the Chinese
Head Tax and deliver a message to the Prime Minister.
His son, Jeff, is travelling behind in a 1979 Chev van with a handmade
wooden trailer that snapped in half in Winnipeg.
The father-son team is trying to get back on schedule in order to
arrive in Ottawa on Canada Day, the same day 82 years ago that the Canadian
government implemented the Chinese Exclusion Act, which stopped Chinese
immigration until it was repealed in 1947.
Wong, a World War Two airforce veteran, plans to dress in his old
uniform, drive up to Parliament in his motorcycle and hand over a petition
demanding a redress of the immigration tax.
Between 1881 and 1885, Chinese men were recruited overseas as a cheap
source of labour to perform some of the most dangerous jobs building the
Canadian Pacific Rail.
The Canadian government imposed a $50 head tax in 1885 and later
increased the fee to $500 — the equivalent of two years salary — in 1903.
Wong’s father had to pay the hefty fee, which could have bought two
houses in Vancouver’s Chinatown back then.
He borrowed money from his brothers and family back home, but was still
paying it back in the 1930s.
“During the Depression, people were poor, but they were twice as poor,”
said Jeff Wong.
The father-son team was greeted by Sudbury’s Chinese community, many of
whom have parents and relatives who paid the head tax.
Yew Lee’s father George, a long-time Sudbury restaurateur, was forced
to pay the tax.
George Lee, although now deceased, came to Sudbury in 1913 from Hoi
He had to borrow $500 from his family back home to be granted
“permission” to stay in the country.
“It was like having a mortgage to belong to this country,” said Yew Lee
“But you still couldn’t vote and you couldn’t go into public
His parents were separated for 14 years. Because of the Chinese
Exclusion Act, his mother Chow Quen Lee was not allowed into Canada until
Back in China, many women who were waiting for their husbands died of
starvation, said Lee.
“It’s a terrible history and a shame. There should be an apology.”
The Chinese Canadian National Council is one of Wong’s sponsors. The
council continues to seek a redress on behalf of the surviving head
taxpayers and their families and urges the Canadian government to negotiate
Click here for related stories about Gim Wong and Redress on this blog site.
“You've got to be joking….”
“Is this for real?”
“I don't believe it!”
“I've heard of this!”
“I've always wanted to go…”
“My friend has got to see this!”
“I saw you on television!”
“Are you really Toddish McWong?”
These are some of the comments that were provoked when attendees to the BC Highland Games
walked in the front gate and discovered a booth proudly displaying the
name “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” in big red letters. On each side of
the tent's pillars were display boards with newsclippings about the
infamous “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.
With Sunnette Jones and Bruce Jarvis (of Seattle) at the BC Highland Games – photo by Margaret Ferguson
Draping across the front table of the booth were red cotton t-shirts
arranged from Women's XS to Men's XS proudly displaying the backs and
fronts of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team designs. On
top of the table were displayed shirts for sale $30 as a fundraiser for
the dragon boat team, as well as pictures of the 2004 dinners, pictures
of dragonboats and especially the “dragon boat float” that was the Gung
Haggis Fat Choy entry in the inaugural Vancouver St. Patrick's Day
Parade in 2004.
Nobody ever said “You are a disgrace to Scottish Culture, laddie!” or
“Get thee back to where you came from you Chinese heathen!”
No…. not at all…
“Toddish McWong,” cried out Harry McGrath when he entered the main gate
and walked up to my booth. Harry is the coordinator for the Centre Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University. He loves the concepts behind Gung Haggis Fat Choy.
“We are like family here,” said Jim Bain one of the festival organizers
and also a Grand Chieftain of the Sons Of Scotland. Bain himself had just
earlier in the week attended a Chinese Mun Yet (One month old) coming
out party for his own grandchild… as his wife is Chinese Canadian,
and his children hapa (Chinese and Scottish Canadians).
Bain was very pleased with the multicultural aspect of the BC Highland
Games. In one pipe band there is a drummer of South Asian
descent. There was a Chinese vendor selling hats. There was
Mango shave ice by a Taiwanese family vendor. And when you looked
around, observant eyes would spot the occaisional Chinese guys wearing
kilts, and families of mixed race leading children of blended ethnicity.
People were generally very happy to find the Gung Haggis Fat Choy
booth, talk about the dinner, and dragon boating. Talk about
their experiences in multicultural families, or that their (Scottish
descendent) son has been living in China, or that their (Chinese
descendent) daughter just got back from Scotland.
They pointed to the picture of the kilted Chinese lion head figure and
laughed. They asked how to join a dragon boat team. They
asked me to pose for pictures with them in front of the booth.
My friend “Bear”of Bear Kilts
was there. Bear has become one of my mentors in kilt wearing
culture, and even has his own blog titled The MacBitseach. He checked in on me throughout the day, and was glad to
see me have a booth there and telling people that I actually did wear
my “maple leaf tartan” while paddling dragon boats. I gave his
son “Cub” a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat shirt, as Cub also checked
in on me, and helped relieve me to grab some food or drink. And
at the end of the day… Bear came over to say good bye.
“I like your sgian dhu” he said…
He nodded down to the cell phone tucked in my right sock where the ceremonial knife sgian dhu is traditionally kept.
We both chuckled and shook hands.
pictures and more stories to come….
July 9/10 – SeaVancouver regatta
We have been racing since 2002, and have won racing medals in Portland
Oregon, and Victoria BC. We have also raced in Kelowna BC, and Seattle
WA. Our team is a blend of rookies and seasoned veterans. Our
coaches have competed at Novice, Rec and Comp levels.
This year at the 2005 Alcan Dragon Boat Festival, we won the
prestigious Hon. David C. Lam Award for being the team that best
represented the multicultural spirit of the festival.
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team has been featured on CBC Newsworld and world-wide on the Thalassa dragon boat documentary filmed by France 3.
It's the BC Highland Games on June 25th in Coquitlam, at Coquitlam Town Centre Stadium.
9am to 8pm
Click to find a map
I will have a booth where I can sell Gung Haggis Fat Choy t-shirts and
give out GHFC recipes for haggis won-ton, haggis-stuffed tofu, and
haggis lettuce wrap.
But I will have to leave by 6pm, so I can attend the Diana Krall concert at 8pm at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver.
Vancouver International Jazz Festival starts this weekend.
Great line-up of cross-cultural music and performers…
Music is always something that evolves and transcends boundaries and
bigotry. Lots of performers and lots of free events around
town. Tognight, I will be at the festival opener – Diana Krall
at the Orpheum Theatre. Diana is sort of a hometown girl, as she
was born and raised in the small town of Nanaimo, just a short ferry
ride across the Georgia Straight on Vancouver Island.
My favorite DK songs? Tom Wait's Temptation, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Let's Face the Music and Dance…
and Patsy Cline's I'm Crazy… and her duet with Ray Charles for You Don't Know Me.