Monthly Archives: December 2005

Scottish Hogmanay New Year + Asian Canadian style = Gung Haggis Fat Choy



Scottish Hogmanay New Year + Asian Canadian style =  Gung Haggis Fat Choy

What better way to celebrate Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year tradition, than by releasing the 2006 Gung Haggis Fat Choy poster?

The origin of Gung Haggis Fat Choy
started when I was asked to participate in the 1993 Robbie Burns Day
celebration at Simon Fraser University.  In 1998, I decided to
host a dinner for 16 guests that blended Robbie Burns Day(January 25th)
with Chinese lunar New Year (late January to early February). 

The result has been a dinner event that has grown steadily to a 2005
dinner of 600 guests, a CBC television special, an annual poetry night
at the Vancouver Public Library, a recreation event at Simon Fraser
University…. and media stories around the world!


Hogmanay is the Scottish New Year's Eve, and it is celebrated on New Year's Eve with a Grand Dinner. It can be very similar to Chinese New Year's in many ways:


1) Make lots of noise. 
Chinese like to burn firecrackers, bang drums and pots to scare the
ghosts and bad spirits away.  Scots will fire off cannons, sound
sirens, bang pots and make lots of noise, I think just for the excuse
of making noise.

2) Pay off your debts. 
Chinese like to ensure that you start off the New Year with no debts
hanging onto your personal feng shui.  I think the Scots do the
same but especially to ensure that they aren't paying anymore interest.

3) Have lots of good food.  Eat lots and be merry.  Both Scots and Chinese enjoy eating, hosting their friends and visiting their friends.


4) Party on dude!  In
Asia, Chinese New Year celebrations will go on for days, lasting up to
a week!  Sort of like Boxing week sales in Canada.  In
Scotland, the Scots are proud partyers and are well known for making
parties last for days on end.

Come to think about it… the above traditions can be found in many
cultures… I guess the Scots and Chinese are more alike than different
with lots of other cultures too!

2006 Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Dinner event poster – designed by Jaime Griffiths and Carole Lee

2006 Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Dinner event poster – original design by Jaime Griffiths, updates by Carole Lee

It is Hogmanay – Scottish New Year and we are celebrating the release of the 2006 poster for….
Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

The original design was by Jaime Griffiths who is an incredible
interactive multi-media artist.  She dances, she paints, she does
computer graphic design, she conceptualizes far ahead of
the curve.

Carole Lee made the 2006 updates.  She is the Art coordinator for Ricepaper Magazine.  She has attended the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner for the past two years, as a volunteer.


What:  Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

When: 6pm, January 22, 2006,
            Sunday  Reception at 5:30pm

Where: Floata Restaurant
             #400 – 180 Keefer St.
             Vancouver Chinatown

Tickets: Firehall Arts Centre
              604-689-0926

Advance Premium price: $60 single / $600 per table.
includes wine and Ricepaper Magazine subscription

Advance Regular price: $50 single / $500 per table
includes Ricepaper Magazine subscription

After January 7th – Premium price $70 each / Regular price $60
each.  Children 13 and under 50% off (no Ricepaper subscription).

The origin of Gung Haggis Fat Choy
started when I was asked to participate in the 1993 Robbie Burns Day
celebration at Simon Fraser University.  In 1998, I decided to
host a dinner for 16 guests that blended Robbie Burns Day(January 25th)
with Chinese lunar New Year (late January to early February). 

The result has been a dinner event that has grown steadily to a 2005
dinner of 600 guests, a CBC television special, an annual poetry night
at the Vancouver Public Library, a recreation event at Simon Fraser
University…. and media stories around the world!


Hogmanay is the Scottish New Year's Eve, and it is celebrated on New Year's Eve with a Grand Dinner. It can be very similar to Chinese New Year's in many ways:


1) Make lots of noise. 
Chinese like to burn firecrackers, bang drums and pots to scare the
ghosts and bad spirits away.  Scots will fire off cannons, sound
sirens, bang pots and make lots of noise, I think just for the excuse
of making noise.

2) Pay off your debts. 
Chinese like to ensure that you start off the New Year with no debts
hanging onto your personal feng shui.  I think the Scots do the
same but especially to ensure that they aren't paying anymore interest.

3) Have lots of good food.  Eat lots and be merry.  Both Scots and Chinese enjoy eating, hosting their friends and visiting their friends.


4) Party on dude!  In
Asia, Chinese New Year celebrations will go on for days, lasting up to
a week!  Sort of like Boxing week sales in Canada.  In
Scotland, the Scots are proud partyers and are well known for making
parties last for days on end.

Come to think about it… the above traditions can be found in many
cultures… I guess the Scots and Chinese are more alike than different
with lots of other cultures too!

Hosted by Todd Wong and Prem Gill (City TV's multicultural director and host of Colour TV)



Special performing guests are: 

Rick Scott and Harry Wong, creators of “5 Elements” children's cd and show – featured at Vancouver International Children's Festival in 2004

Joy Kogawa O.C.
Award winning author and poet, of Obasan (Vancouver Public Library's
2005 choice for One Book One Vancouver) and Naomi's Road (Vancouver
Opera's production for Opera in the Schools)

Joe McDonald & Brave Waves
Bagpiper, band leader, combining traditional scots, gaelic, celtic and
Canadian songs with Asian and South Asian music and instruments.

La La
Exciting blend of contemporary soul and hip hop music with Asian roots and traditional Canadian songs.

Sean Gunn
Singer /Songwriter – Head Tax Redress activist and composer of “The Head Tax Blues”

Jeff Chiba Stearns
Classical Animator – creator of award winning animated film “What Are You Anyways?”

The Shirleys
Seven sassy soulful females singing accapella songs of protest and lullabyes.

             
            

 

Paul Martin’s statement on Chinese Head Tax Not Good Enough! – Mary-Woo Sims

Paul Martin’s statement on Chinese Head Tax Not Good Enough! – Mary-Woo Sims


Mary -Woo Sims is a long time human rights advocate and a friend of
mine.  She helped Gim Wong on his motorcycle Ride for Redress,
motorbiking up to Craigelacchie, the site of the “Last Spike” with him
in 2004.  She is running as an NDP candidate for Port
Moody/Westwood/Port Coquitlam.

MEDIA RELEASE

 

For immediate release

December
29, 2005

 

Paul
Martin’s statement on Chinese Head Tax Not Good Enough!

 

Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam – NDP
candidate Mary Woo Sims and long time human rights advocate says Paul Martin’s
statement that he feels “deep sorrow” over the Chinese Head Tax imposed in the
late 1800’s and early 1900’s is not good enough.

 

In an article published in a major Chinese
daily Ming Pao on December 28, 2005, Paul Martin, who met with Chinese
community leaders in Montreal on Dec. 28, 2006 reportedly said that he felt
deep sorrow over the Chinese Head Tax and that he would take the advice of
Raymond Chan and David Emerson to review the situation after the election.

 

“Why won’t he just come out and apologize
to Chinese Canadians for the imposition of the Chinese Head Tax and the
subsequent Chinese Exclusion Act?” said Sims. 
“They have used the words ‘deep regret’ and now ‘deep sorrow’.  Why don’t they take the next step and make a
formal apology to Chinese Canadians like New Zealand’s Prime Minister the Rt.
Honourable Helen Clark did in 2002 over similar treatment in that country of
its Chinese citizens earlier in the last century?”

 

Sims, who has been actively working on the
Head Tax and Exclusion Act redress movement for years and who started the “Gim
Wong Ride For Redress” rode with 82 year old Wong to Craigallachie, BC in 2004
to try to bring attention to this historic injustice.  “Raymond Chan has failed Head Tax payers and their descendents in
his attempts to divide Chinese community leaders on the appropriate way to
redress this issue and David Emerson’s use of a Chinese insult to describe Jack
Layton shows that he simply doesn’t understand the sensitivities of the
community” said Sims.

 

Sims supports canceling the deal made by
the Liberals to redress the Head Tax just before the election call.  “Today in Toronto, our leader, Jack Layton
said that ‘we need to have a response from our government that starts with an
apology – an open and complete apology to the Chinese community.  That has got to be the starting place for
redress.’  I agree with the stand that
my leader has taken and look forward to working with him in Parliament to
achieve a just redress for this historic racist injustice” said Sims.

-30-

 

For more information call:  Joy Langan 604-868-6123

Vernon BC's Silver Star resort is a wonderful winter wonderland

Vernon BC's Silver Star resort is a wonderful winter wonderland

Is there anything lighter and fluffier than Okanagan champagne powder snow?


Todd makes a snow angel in a snow bank – photo by girlfriend

I took my girlfriend Deb ice-skating at Silver Star Resort's
outdoor ice skating pond on Wednesday, Dec 28th.  It was
amazing… A huge frozen pond with an island in the middle to skate
around.  People played ice hockey at one end in their own rink,
while we skated in a whole other huge rink.


My friends Jen, Deb and Jeff smile while snowflakes fall all around them – photo Todd

The snow fell lightly.  Six centimeters of light fluffy snow lay
on the snow, that we could easily skate through.  People cleared
paths in the snow with snow shovels while a small bobcat snowblower
drove on the ice clearing the larger sections.


Todd and Deb enjoying the winter skating – photo by Jeff Stearns

It was very romantic.  It was kind of a blind double date with my friends Jeff and Jeni from Kelowna as Deb had never met them before, except for seeing their pictures on my website.


Jeff and Jen strike a pose while people play hockey in the background – photo by Todd Wong

Jeff Chiba Stearns is the award winning creative force behind the animated film “What Are You Anyways?”  His girlfriend Jeni has just joined the Save Kogawa House committee with me.  I first met Jeff and Jeni at the Vancouver Public Library for a community days display set up for the One Book One Vancouver program which was featuring Joy Kogawa's novel Obasan.


Todd skating and making turns on the ice – photo by girlfriend

It was the first time I had been to Silver Star Resort since skiing
there as a teen in 1977.  I used to love it there… especially
when my parents would take us out of school for a week of ski
lessons.  Deb grew up skiing at Silver Star because her parents
live just south of Vernon on beautiful Kalamalka Lake.

We had a wonderful time teaching Jeff how to play “crack the whip,”
playing tag on the ice, doing spins, and just experiencing the
wonderful ambience of the gentle snow flakes falling down on our
faces.  I made snow angels in the snow, and we had hot chocolate
and poutine before walking around the quaint western style village.

Province editorial on Liberal's attempt at Head Tax redress, calls on PM Martin to admit his mistakes


Province editorial on Liberal's attempt at Head Tax redress, calls on PM Martin to admit his mistakes

Here is an editorial in today's Province newspaper. I have made my comments in parenthesis and a comment following the article.

* * * * The Province
Published: Wednesday, December 28, 2005

It is becoming increasingly clear that a federal government plan
designed to atone for almost a century of injustice inflicted on the
Chinese-Canadian community is not merely insufficient, but risks adding
insult to injury.

When community groups from across the country were flown to Vancouver
Nov. 24 to hear details of the plan from multiculturalism minister
Raymond Chan, their expectations were high. (especially when $100,000 came from Chan's ministry of Multiculturalism)

For more than 20 years, prominent community leaders have campaigned for
an apology and compensation for victims of the notorious head tax,
imposed on all Chinese immigrants to Canada from 1885 to 1923.

But the agreement in principle with four community groups that Chan
announced offered only funds for educational projects and memorial
plaques. (No apology, and no individual tax refund for surviving payers or spouses)

Leading intellectuals among the Chinese community in Vancouver say
the
negotiations that produced the deal were held with groups “hand-picked”
by Ottawa and were not representative of the community at large. (The
Chinese Canadian National Council which has registered up to 5,000 head
tax payers and descendants are not included in negotiations because
they did not agree to the Liberal program's preconditions of No
Apology, and No individual compensation.)

They say the realization that an apology would not be part of the deal
came as a major shock.

At a meeting this week, they estimated that as many as 90 per cent of
Chinese-Canadians now want the government to rescind the agreement.

Most adamant in its opposition is the Chinese Canadian National
Council, whose founding president, Joseph Wong of Toronto, has warned that the
issue could tilt the balance against the Liberals in ridings where
there is a substantial Chinese-Canadian vote.

Since the early 1980s, the CCNC has been compiling a register of those
who paid the head tax, which rose over the years from $50 to a
staggering $500. The list, which includes descendants of victims,
contains some 4,000 names.

Community leaders say the demand for compensation is more symbolic than
it is about the money.

“We want honorable redress for our Chinese pioneers,” says Thekla Lit,
a Vancouver social worker and prominent activist.

The Liberal government's hasty attempt to put right a historic wrong on
the eve of an election smacks of opportunism.

The head-tax scandal already grubbies the pages of Canada's history
books and any redress should not be tarnished by an association with
cheap political advantage.

Prime Minister Paul Martin should admit his mistake, cancel the
agreement and promise to think again. After Jan. 23.

- – -

What do you think? Leave a brief comment, name and town at:
604-605-2029, fax: 604-605-2099 or e-mail: provletters@png.canwest.com

C The Vancouver Province 2005

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



What is wrong with this picture about redress and the Liberal Party?

Three opposition parties, NDP, Bloc Quebecois, Conservatives +
Green Party all say that apology, individual compensation and inclusion
of head tax payers and descendants is important.

Why doesn't Minister of State (Multiculturalism) Raymond Chan
include the 4000 + head tax payers and descendants registered by the
Chinese Canadian National Council? Doesn't he feel that they should be
part of the process that he wants to address?

Chan and the National Congress of Chinese Canadians do not have
written aggreement of the supposed list of 300+ community organizations
which is actually dropping in numbers as more and more organizations
say they did not give permission to use their names.  It is
difficult to find a listed  organization that has anything to do
with Chinese Canadian historical or human rights issues – except the
CCNC that was  excluded from the negotiation process but was
mistakenly included on the original list, or the Chinese Canadian
Military Museum that stands to gain funds for a specially proposed
project.

Why should the ACE program give $2.5 Million to the NCCC whose
executive director Ping Tan has stated that a signifcant amount of
money will be used to create the Chinese Canadian Community Foundation
to administer proposals to the ACE program? Wasn't the Canadian Race
Relations Foundation set up as part of the 1988 Japanese Canadian
redress settlement to do exactly this? Administer programs to foster
multiculturalism and better race relations for ALL Canadians? Why
re-invent the wheel, unless there are other unspoken interests at
stake?

An “apology” was made by Brian Mulroney to the Japanese Canadians
in the House of Commons as part of the redress package that included
individual compensation.  To date, no Canadian has ever sued the
government over this issue.

Canadians want resolution, strong and true – not a lipservice to
wrong doing, that gives money to a questionable organization with no
track record of Chinese Canadian history or human rights such as the
National Congress of Chinese Canadians.

Canada in 2005 is inclusive – Our Chinese Community includes 6th and
7th generations who also include Scottish, French, English, African,
South Asian and First Nations bloodlines., Our Canada includes
immigrants of Chinese descent not only China, but Taiwan, the
Carribean, England, South Africa, Maylaysia, Singapore and Brazil.

Canadians want recognition for the head tax pioneers and
descendants who have fought for Canada in WW2 and other wars, fought
for the 1947 vote for all Chinese in Canada, for true patriot love and
who stand on guard for thee.

- Todd Wong

Separated at Birth: Name calling “joke” about Olivia Chow, sinks Ontario Liberal excecutive.

Separated at Birth: Name calling “joke” about Olivia Chow, sinks Ontario Liberal excecutive.

Separated at birth: That is the headline for a picture of Chinese
Canadian MP candidate Olivia Chow, contrasted with a Chow Chow dog.
This was posted on a personal blog site (since removed) by Mike
Klander, vice-president for the Ontario Liberal Party.

This type of attitude is unfit for somebody who wants to lead
public office or to be associated with the political backrooms, and is
an unforgivable example of where such kinds of thinking leads to in
ill-conceieved sponsorship scandals, head tax redress bungling, and
consistent perpetuation of Asian stereotypes. Personal name calling, is
also one of the lowest forms of insults, usually only used when
somebody has run out of or is incapable of constructive criticism.

I grew up in “multicultural Vancouver”, subject to occasional
racial insults and references. Some were playful amongst “friends.” But
many were hurtful, and meant to be demeaning. Did it make me stronger
as an indivdual or did it make me want to run away and cry, as WW2
veteran Gim Wong recalled a child hood incident in the movie “Shadow of
Gold Mountain.” Probably both. But more importantly, it ingrained a
sense of the importance to fight racial discrimination and intolerance.

It is exactly that type of “silly” plays on words that probably
made Conservative MP's Inky Mark or NDP candidate Mary-Woo Sims, the
butts of “word play insults” as children, or why I was the constant
butt of “Wing the Wong number” jokes. Name calling hurts. period. It
doesn't matter if it is school yard bullying or political posturing.

But especially in the middle of a federal election campaign, where
the Liberals are being criticized for their ill-conceived attempt at
head tax redress, it demonstrates an insensitivity to complex issues
where thousands of head tax payers and descendants are being purposely
ignored over the decision to only “consult” with hand-picked “community
leaders” sympathetic to following the “rules” set out by legal
advisors, when the Supreme court of Ontario and the Unitied Nations
have both already stated that Canada must address these issues on a
political level.

Below are the articles of the issue currently being printed in our major newspapers across Canada.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Calgary Herald
27 December 2005
Calgary Herald
A22
English
Copyright © 2005 Calgary Herald
Separated at Birth: Name calling “joke” about Olivia Chow, sinks Ontario Liberal excecutive.

When Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff Scott Reid made his
infamous beer-and-popcorn comment, he was rightly pilloried for arrogance.
 Separated at Birth: Name calling “joke” about Olivia Chow, sinks Ontario Liberal excecutive.

Now, Mike Klander, vice-president of the Liberals' Ontario wing, has posted
pictures to his blog, comparing Toronto NDP candidate and wife of Jack
Layton, Olivia Chow, with a dog — a chow chow. He's since quit.

Reid could perhaps have claimed it was his sincerely held opinion parents
would not make good use of money given them to use for their children. Thin
as such excuses would have been, Klander cannot even offer that. The only
possible purpose of his comment was to mock, and hurt.

The Liberals must be accustomed to charges of corruption, and arrogance. To
them must now be added random stupidity; racially based insults are not
merely wrong, but also widely known to be electoral suicide.

What was Klander thinking?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Derogatory web posting sparks Grit resignation: Senior organizer apologizes
to NDP candidate

Janice Tibbetts, with a file from Daryl Slade, Calgary Herald CanWest News Service
27 December 2005 Calgary Herald Final A4 English Copyright © 2005 Calgary Herald OTTAWA

A senior Liberal organizer has quit the party executive after comparing an
Asian-Canadian election candidate to a Chinese chow chow dog.

Mike Klander, executive vice-president of the Liberal Party of Canada in
Ontario, resigned suddenly Monday for posting photos of Toronto NDP
contender Olivia Chow and a chow chow on his weblog, under the caption
“Separated at Birth.”

The NDP described the blog as “bordering on racist” and the Liberals, moving
quickly into damage control on the Boxing Day holiday, asserted that the
posting was “tasteless” and did not reflect party values.

“It's certainly our view as a party that there are lines that should not be
crossed and unfortunately this was a tasteless posting and Mike recognizes
that and has therefore submitted his resignation,” said spokesman Stephen
Heckbert.

“If anyone was offended by it, we certainly apologize as a party.”

A chow chow is a mid-size dog of Chinese origin that resembles the Pekingese
breed.
 Separated at Birth: Name calling “joke” about Olivia Chow, sinks Ontario Liberal excecutive.

Klander said he has also apologized informally to Chow, the wife of NDP
Leader Jack Layton. She is running a tight race in the downtown Toronto
riding of Trinity-Spadina.

“It was a play on words and I didn't intend it to be anything other than
that,” Klander said in a telephone interview.

“It was intended for a small group of friends, naively on my part.”

Klander took down his blog three days ago after getting wind of complaints.

Klander also asserted on his webpage that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper
“creeps people out,” and that cowboy hats make politicians “look gay.”

The Toronto consultant has been has been active in the Liberal party since
the late 1980s.

Harper, who is in Calgary for the holidays, said Monday that Klander's
postings seem to be par for the Liberal course.

“Well, you know, there's kind of been a stream of this — you know, beer and
popcorn, cars and coats, unfit for office, the use of Holocaust memorial
pictures,” Harper said after helping light a menorah for Hanukkah at the
home of Calgary Rabbi Menachem Matus on Monday night.

“There's quite a campaign of slur and personal attack going on here, and one
can only hope that the Liberal party will get a bit of a public backlash
over it,” added Harper, who is home in his Calgary Southwest riding for the
holidays.

As a party executive, Klander was a key organizer for Prime Minister Paul
Martin's leadership in Ontario and he also managed the 2000 election
campaign in the province.

In this campaign, he played only a minor role as a volunteer, said Heckbert,
stressing that Klander's blog was a personal one, appearing on his own
webpage rather than the Liberal website.

Heckbert also praised Klander for having “a history of being a strong
Liberal and someone who has worked for diversity.”

Heckbert said Klander resigned on his own initiative and was not pushed.
However, in an interview with CanWest News Service just before he submitted
his resignation, Klander said his only plan was to apologize to Chow.

He also has pulled his blog for the remainder of the campaign leading to the
Jan. 23 vote.

NDP spokesman Ian Capstick said it is appropriate that Klander has resigned.

“He realizes what he has done is offensive,” said Capstick.

“Ms. Chow is looking forward to his direct apology.”

In light of the name-calling and slurs on the webpage, Capstick said Klander
has a lot of amends to make beyond apologizing to Chow.

“I think Mr. Klander touched a variety of different nerves,” said Capstick.

“I think the Liberal party, the party that wraps itself in the Charter so
often, needs to stand up and take responsibility for Mr. Klander's words and
needs to ensure that Mr. Klander takes the appropriate action to make
amends.”

Chow could not be reached for comment Monday, but she told the Toronto Star
that she was “saddened” by the web posting.

“I'll debate policy anytime, but to descend to this level is quite
disappointing,” she said.

NDP spokesman Brad Lavigne said the blog “borders on racism, there's no
question about it.”

Members of the Chinese Canadian National Council, which has been an active
interest group in the current election campaign, could not be reached for
comment.

Joy Kogawa on CBC Radio's Sounds Like Canada – Boxing Day transcript


Joy Kogawa on CBC Radio's Sounds Like Canada – Boxing Day transcript

Here’s a transcript of CBC Radio
One’s interview with Joy Kogawa about the Kogawa House project from my
friend Ann-Marie Metten – also a coordinator for the Save Kogawa House
campaign.

To her great pleasure the interview was broadcast twice on Boxing Day,
first in the morning at 10 a.m., accompanying a half-hour interview
with Leslie Uyeda – the artistic director of Vancouver Opera’s Naomi’s
Road school program and the composer of music inspired by the haiku
written as part of the Vancouver Public Library’s program to promote
Obasan as the 2005 One Book One Vancouver choice. The interview with
Joy Kogawa was also rebroadcast later in the day, on “Night Time
Review” at 8 p.m.

If you are interested in making financial donations, please check with The Land Conservancy
Contact:
Ann-Marie Metten

Save Kogawa House Committee

604-263-6586
www.kogawahouse.com
 
The Land Conservancy of B.C,

5655 Sperling Avenue

Burnaby, BC V5E 2T2

Tel. (604) 733-2313

Fax. (604) 299-5054


www.conservancy.bc.ca

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 


 
CBC Radio One “Sounds Like Canada,” December 26, 2005, 10 a.m., rebroadcast on “Night Time Review,” December 26, 8 p.m.




Interview with Joy Kogawa

10:28 Joy Kogawa reading from Obasan.

10:35 Guest host Kathryn Gretzinger:
That was Joy Kogawa reading from Obasan. We heard the main character
remembering the long journey she travelled as an enemy alien from her
family home in Marpole to their bitter internment working in the sugar
beet fields of Alberta. I’m in Marpole today in South Vancouver with
Joy Kogawa. Hi.
 
 
Joy: Hi.

who is right here, and all of this is making this
part of the journey one of friendship and abundance and great joy.

Kathryn: What do you think of the parallels between the journey back in
your mind then and the journey back each time you come to the house
today?

Joy: Well, today there is a lot of light surrounding everything. I
think that the gloom of yesterday and the despair and know that the
lostness has been dispelled by the amount of friendship that has sprung
up around the drive to save the house and all the love for the cherry
tree and the new cherry tree at city hall and all of these things and
Ann-Marie Metten, who is right here, and all of this is making this
part of the journey one of friendship and abundance and great joy.

Kathryn: Does it help with healing?

Joy: Yes, the healing is something that goes on invisibly, but when
there is a great bubbling up of gratitude, that’s when one knows that a
kind of health has been restored. When you wake up in the morning and
the first thought that you have is one of gratitude? That’s healing. I
have that now more than I have ever had. So I am glad beyond words.

Kathryn: Were your parents able to get to that place?

Joy: Well, as far as the house is concerned, my mother was almost 90
when she said to me–and she was quite senile then, too–but she did
want to go home to this house. She wanted that and I would have done
anything if it had been possible then. But she’s gone now and it’s sad
that she never was able to go home. But here we are and maybe other
people will be able to come and know that the house is still here and
that it’s connected to a reality that was rather than a fiction and I
think all of that is important.

Kathryn: What do you think of what’s happened here with this starting
out as a simple idea–Well, we should save Joy Kogawa’s house–to what
this has become, which is a sort of a movement in British Columbia?

Joy: How did that happen? How do any of these things magically happen?
I don’t know. Ann-Marie’s going to have to happen because I think it’s
sort of like springtime–there is something that happens when the
weather warms and all these little shoots come out of the ground and
these magic mushrooms just jump out of the earth and become a source of
amazement and awe that all this energy has been there.

Kathryn: Joy, you’ve mentioned Ann-Marie a couple of times. Would you like to introduce this woman?

Joy: Yes, she’s right here. Ann-Marie’s a neighbour and . . .  Go, Ann-Marie.

Ann-Marie: Right. I live just around the corner from what we are
calling the House of Obasan or Joy Kogawa’s House and I look at it out
my dining room window.

Kathryn: You’re just over there.

Ann-Marie: I’m just over there, just over the fence, so to speak, and
this is a place that my neighbours told me about when we first moved
into the neighbourhood about 20 years ago.

Joy: I didn’t know that.

Ann-Marie: Sure, Billy Boyd, she had read the book and she said as
we’re walking past—that’s where Joy lived. That’s the house that
inspired Obasan. It’s known in the neighbourhood that this is where you
lived and where you were removed.

Joy: David Lloyd George School, that was where I went when I was in
Grade One and I knew they had a reunion some time ago and I would have
liked to have gone to that.

Ann-Marie: I invited you to that reunion . . .

Joy: That was you?

Ann-Marie: I invited you to that reunion in 1996 and wrote to your publisher . . .

Joy: For heaven’s sakes . . .

Ann-Marie: . . . I asked Would you come? But the publisher didn’t pass
that information on. Instead we had a wonderful display from the
Japanese Canadian National Museum. I thought it was very important to
tell the story that many houses in this neighbourhood were owned by
Canadians of Japanese descent, many businesses were expropriated, and
that there is a presence in Marpole of people who are very close to my
heart because of my childhood experience living in southern Alberta.
When I was five, about the same age Joy was when she was removed from
her house, our family moved from a farm in British Columbia to the
small town of Vauxhall in southern Alberta.

Kathryn: What do you remember?

Ann-Marie: Well, it’s was my first school experience and I was new in
town. My father was a lay minister in the United Church and there were
ways into the community but most of my friends were, as it turned out,
were those who were a little but peripheral to the Vauxhall community.
They were people like Brenda Chaba and Brenda Yamamoto and children of
Japanese background.

Kathryn: Did you make the connection back then that something was different?

Ann-Marie: There was an import in my parents’ talking about this and
these children were not allowed in my home. My mother had lost a
brother in Japan and there was an undercurrent that I could visit there
but it was only on my eighth birthday that they were allowed to come
over. So I knew that there was something going on here, something not
talked about. My father being a little more liberal and open minded and
responsible for the pastoral care of the Japanese Canadian community .
. .

Joy: I didn’t know that either . . .

Ann-Marie: Yes, these are my reasons, my motivations . . .

Joy: These were the kids that had grown up probably around here in BC
and had been interned and then sent to the sugar beet fields.

Ann-Marie: Well, this would have been 1963 . . .

Joy: These would have been the children of . . .

Ann-Marie: . . . children of those interned and my father would take
our family to visit on Sunday afternoons on his pastoral visits. I have
had some wonderful soy crackers in a house I remember with a tar paper
exterior and very cold, very cold in the winter and conditions that
were hardly liveable.

Kathryn: So is this your way of trying to make things right?

Ann-Marie: This is my way, as a Canadian citizen, seeing something that
needs doing and really saying: I can have a part in this, I can make a
difference, and I’m so pleased that we have been able to get a momentum
going around Joy’s writing and around this project to preserve one
remembrance of this historic moment. There are many houses that were
lost and this is the only one we really know about because Joy wrote
about it in Obasan and so it’s the one that we’re working to preserve
as a place of healing and as a writing centre. The Land Conservancy has
heard our call . . .

Kathryn: This is the big news this month . . .

Ann-Marie: It’s the best thing that could happen that a community
group: the Land Conservancy, which has amazing credibility and a track
record in rescuing heritage houses has joined our project and just
last  Monday, earlier in December, committed to our fundraising
project.

Kathryn: What does the Land Conservancy have to do with a writers’ retreat?

Ann-Marie: Ah, the Land Conservancy has rescued a number of cultural
properties. These include Azkhabi Gardens in Victoria and Baldwin House
in Burnaby, which was an Arthur Erickson designed property and they are
preserving land but they’re also preserving places of cultural
importance.

Kathryn: So what you need to do is raise the money to buy the house to save it.

Ann-Marie: Yes, and the Land Conservancy has set a goal of $1.25 million to be raised before March 30, 2006.

Kathryn: Joy?

Joy: Yes, I know, it’s unbelievable to me and I just . . .

Ann-Marie: We’re going to do it!

Joy: Well, Ann-Marie, if you say so . . .

Kathryn: How much have you got?

Ann-Marie: We’re probably one percent along the way but with the
machine of the Land Conservancy I have amazing confidence and Joy knows
that this is going to happen.

Joy: I do?

Ann-Marie: Yes.

Kathryn: And if it doesn’t, you have the cherry tree?

Ann-Marie: Yes.

Joy: If it doesn’t happen we have love and what’s greater than love?

Kathryn: Did you see the look she just shot me?

Joy: What’s she saying with her look? Well, Ann-Marie is confident and somebody has to have this confidence.

Kathryn: You’re not so confident?

Joy: I’m not allowing it to . . . Well, what am I doing? What I’m
trying to focus on is the primacy of healing and I’m saying that that
is what has to happen the most. And I don’t understand money anyway.
So, I don’t know how to think about that. I can let Ann-Marie think
about it and the Land Conservancy can think about it. And I’ll do
whatever they ask me to do and my heart is really there but I don’t
have any comprehension of that. It just seems like a huge vast sum of
money and there are so many causes. There is so much need in the world
and there are children in Africa who are dying and orphans and so on
and when I think about that then I think is what we need is more love
in the world but love is the magic penny, isn’t it? The more you give
the more it grows. It’s not like the other kind of money, which is so
scarce. So, I don’t understand the scarcity thing. I’ve been trying to
understand it and I don’t. But what I do understand is that abundance
and friendship go together and that’s where my heart is.

Kathryn: There’s been a lot of talk about the importance of the Anne
Frank house and its preservation and I wonder whether you look to that
as a symbol of hope for this house.

Joy: I’ve heard some people say that. In a way one cannot compare what
happened to Japanese Canadians to the Holocaust in Europe. It was so
different in degree that it does not bear mentioning in the same breath
but the racism is a constant in all countries and this is Canada’s
version of its racist actions. But as we say those who imagine it to be
a house where certain dreams were and where those certain dreams died,
yes, that’s what it is. It is that.

Kathryn: Ann-Marie?

Ann-Marie: Anne Frank House is a place where people go to learn and
remember about the Holocaust and Kogawa House I would love to see as a
place where people could come and learn about the internment and the
potential within our society to turn against and so prevent the same
thing happening. More than a museum, though, I would really love to see
writers working here, creating new energy and new work.

Kathryn: You’re listening to Sounds Like Canada on CBC Radio One. I’m
Kathryn Gretzinger, sitting in for Shelagh Rogers, and I’m here in
Marpole with Joy Kogawa and her lovely neighbour Ann-Marie. We’re
standing beneath the cherry tree. I’m just looking up at a branch that
has been cut.

Joy: I know. You know, in my mind when I first came upon this tree in
2003, that was me because I thought: I was wounded, I was deeply
wounded. Somebody cared enough to put that bandage, which is still
there, on the tree. But the part of it which was flourishing and
flowering and beautiful and healthy—I said that’s me and it was held up
by a trestle–that was me. But it’s all gone. It’s been cut. It’s been
cut away and so has this other branch, which was so healthy and strong.
Now, I don’t understand why those parts of the tree were cut away and I
kind of felt depressed about it and I thought, oh, maybe that’s the end
of it all. Who knows?

I don’t understand a lot of things that happen in the world and I don’t
know what is to happen but what has happened, which is also miraculous,
is that Ann-Marie’s friend Derry Walsh, took some cuttings from this
tree and one of them, one of the cuttings has been planted at Vancouver
City Hall. That’s a miracle so that the tree lives on. So children will
be able to see the child of the cherry tree and this tree I know is
dying and dying faster than it needed to have died and we will all die,
that is true. But if it remains here, it will stand as a symbol of what
was. The fact that it is has been damaged is also part of the story.
That is a part of the human condition. We do things and we don’t know
what we do a lot of the time when we do them.

I think the realities of healing are very complex and part of the
healing means opening old wounds and cleansing and going through pain
and going to the places where the fire has been but I think that being
able to face the many complex truths of being the despised and then
coming to the recognition that we are all one in some very profound and
deep way and feeling that and knowing that is very healing.

Kathryn: Was it like coming back to the fire when you first came back here after all those years?

Joy: Well, in a way it was like coming back to the light. It was coming
back to happy memories. I did come with a great deal of joy, actually.
When we had a reading in the house, I remember weeping all the way
through it because it was such a wonderful feeling to be there and with
friends and in a new day. I mean, remembering a day when we had been
the most despised in the country and coming to a new day when one was
with support, friends, and with a new feeling of equality and all of
that and knowing that the task is not over and that even though we have
won equality for oneself and one’s community there are many, many
others who need the support that we received and are receiving.

Kathryn: Good luck.

Joy: Thank you so much.

Ann-Marie: Thank you, Kathryn.

Kathryn: I know it’s a cold day but it’s been great to be able to come here with the two of you.

Joy: Yes, thank you.

Ann-Marie: It’s wonderful to talk to you, Kathryn.

Kathryn: Ann-Marie Metten of the Save Kogawa House Committee and Joy
Kogawa in south Marpole at the place they’re calling Kogawa House.
You’re listening to Sounds Like Canada this Boxing Day. I’m Kathryn
Gretzinger. Shelagh Rogers is off on a holiday. She’s going to back
with you on Wednesday. Here now, Uzume Taiko with “Love Song.”

Uzume Taiko “Love Song”

Kathryn: That was Uzume Taiko with “Love Song.” I’m Kathryn Gretzinger
and you’re listening to Sounds Like Canada. Here’s Corb Lund and “The
Truth Comes Out.”

10:57

[END]
 

Boxing Day Head Tax stories in Media: Vancouver Sun and CKNW


Boxing Day Head Tax stories in Media: Vancouver Sun and CKNW




VANCOUVER SUN
Tuesday » December 27 » 2005

Head-tax redress a top issue in several ridings Liberals and Conservatives have
opposite views on an issue that could sway some Lower Mainland constituencies

Jonathan Fowlie

Vancouver Sun

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Redress for the head tax Ottawa once imposed on Chinese-Canadians is
becoming a significant election issue in some ridings in B.C. and
Ontario, Chinese community leaders told a news conference Monday.

“With the Conservative party and the Liberal party taking diametrically
different positions on this, that could have an effect,” former Vancouver
councillor Tung Chan said.

Tung cited Burnaby-Douglas and Richmond as two examples of Lower
Mainland ridings where the issue is key.

“Richmond has 40 per cent Chinese-Canadians living there, so that could
well be one of the ridings where this could have a major impact,” Chan said.

Joseph Wong, president of the Chinese Canadian National Council, agreed,
saying the head tax and the recently announced $2.5-million plan by
Ottawa to address the issue are starting to be of major concern, especially in
ridings with a substantial Chinese community.

In November, the Liberal government announced a $2.5-million plan to
recognize the historic injustice of the head tax, but it did not apologize
or offer individual financial redress to victims and their families.

“As far as we are concerned, the Chinese community across Canada is
voicing our disapproval of that type of settlement,” said Wong.

“We absolutely would not accept this type of settlement imposed upon us
by the federal Liberal government,” he added.

Wong, who is also a recipient of the Order of Canada, said there are are
at least 10 Ontario ridings where the Chinese-Canadian community accounts
for at least 10 to 15 per cent of voters, and where the head tax issue
could affect the outcome.

While campaigning in Ontario earlier this month, Conservative leader Stephen
Harper changed his position on the head tax issue and joined the New
Democratic Party and Bloc Quebecois in condemning the government's
$2.5-million plan as inadequate.

Harper also called on Parliament to apologize for the head tax.

Between 1885 and 1923, the Canadian government collected $23 million in
so-called head taxes — essentially fees to immigrate to Canada — from
about 81,000 Chinese immigrants. The government went a step further
between 1923 and 1947 by imposing an outright ban on Chinese immigration.

At Monday's news conference, Wong called the head tax the “most racist,
dirtiest part of Canadian history” and demanded it be properly addressed.

“The federal government is not taking this seriously enough,” he said,
slamming the recently announced Liberal plan.

Wong went on to urge Chinese Canadians to become more involved in the
election because of the issue, though he stopped short of endorsing one
party over another.

“I'm asking Canadians of Chinese descent to participate in the political
process,” he said. “I am asking people to know about the issues they are
voting for, and also to know about the stance of their candidates and
vote accordingly.”

jfowlie@png.canwest.com

© The Vancouver Sun 200

City's Chinese community wants Ottawa to up the ante

Dec, 26 2005 – 7:20 PM

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) – A group of concerned Chinese Canadians are calling
on the Liberal Government to rescind an agreement in principle on the headtax redress.

Former Vancouver City Councillor Tung Chan says on Boxing Day or not
this is about to become a major issue in the Federal election.

Reps from several groups are calling for an apology and individual
compensation, charged Chinese immigrants between 1885 and 1947.

Dr. Joseph Wong is the founding President of the Chinese Canadian
National Council, “I'm asking Canadians of Chinese descent to participate in the
political process. We know the Chinese community has not been a high
voter turnout within our community and I think that this is exactly the
problem that we are facing.”

Dr. Wong also points to recent polls suggesting 75 to 90 percent of
those asked in the Chinese Canadian community aren't satisfied with the
agreement offer which is 12 and a half million dollars in compensation.

The Tyee: Article on Mixed Marriage aka inter-racial marriage by Amy Chow

The Tyee: Article on Mixed Marriage aka inter-racial marriage by Amy Chow

Amy Chow has written an article called The Face of Asian Mixed Marriage in BC
 http://thetyee.ca/Life/2005/12/27/MixedMarriageBC/
for The Tyee.ca

She tells the story of a nice Canadian boy eloping with a nice Canadian
girl because his mother, has always wanted him to marry a girl that
would be “more appropriate” for him and the family. It's a familiar
story – not a new story… but one that most Canadians could related to
and share.
In this case, the boy is of Jewish ancestry and the girl is of Chinese
ancestry.

I grew up in Vancouver, first meeting people from mixed marriages in
the early sixties when I was a child. “Chinnie” was somebody who always
was hanging out at my great-grandma's house – one of her best friends.
She was white. I have recently bumped into her daughter Evelyn. It's
great that we have shared history of our elders.

Mixed race marriages is common place on both sides of my family. On my
mother's side, there has been a mixed race marriage in every generation
since our elder Rev. Chan Yu Tan arrived in Canada in 1896. There was
his son Luke, who became an actor in Hollywood. There were his
grandsons Henry and Art. Incidently it was Art who married a First
Nations woman, and their daughter Rhonda has become the elected band
chief for the Qayqayt Nation (New Westminster), that she singlehandedly
resurrected.

My mother's youngest brother married a woman of Scottish-English
background, steeped in Ontario Canadian heritage. 9 of my 12 cousins on
my mom's side have married caucasians + my brother. And on my father's
side, 6 of my 9 cousins married caucasians.

I was the only person out of my maternal cousins that married somebody
of Chinese Canadian descent. It should have worked out… our
grandparents had known each other, as had our parents, our aunts and
uncles, our cousins, and even their children…. but it was not to be.
No regrets.

And today, I am spending my 2nd Christmas with my Canadian girlfriend
of British ancestry, and her parents. I haven't seen another Asian
since I left the Kelowna airport two days ago. There haven't been any
racial clashes. We talk about the issues that I am involved in such as
the Save Kogawa House campaign and the Chinese Canadian head tax – even
with their caucasian friends.

We listened to my friends Joy Kogawa and Ann-Marie Metten on CBC radio
yesterday, and we read in the newspaper about my friends Bill Chu and
Gabriel Yiu and Thekla Lit who helped organize a Boxing Day press
conference on Head Tax redress. And these are just Canadian issues. And
the 3 dogs love all the hugs they can get. Race isn't an issue for them.


Todd out walking with dogs in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park.