Monthly Archives: March 2006

National Association of Japanese Canadians calls for community support for Kogawa House

National Association of Japanese Canadians calls for community support for Kogawa House


For Immediate Release


Winnipeg, MB  March  27, 2006: 

Joy Kogawa in one of her visits to Vancouver, recently `found’ her childhood home, which out of memory had been recorded in some detail in her books.  She had forgotten the address, but discovered it to be at 1450 West 64th Avenue, in the Marpole district of Vancouver.  Not only the house, but the cherry tree which she used to climb and hug as a child was still there, symbolically surviving the harsh wear and tear of life and times.  

This is the place Joy Kogawa had spent the first six years of her life when, in 1942, she, together with her family, and all Japanese Canadians in the West Coast of British Columbia, were relocated to internment sites in the interior of British Columbia. Like other homes owned by Japanese Canadians, the Government of Canada confiscated it and auctioned it off in their absence.  This is the place she returned to in her imagination and memories to write the book, Obasan, to record the events.
Today the Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC), in response to Joy’s plea to save the house, is spearheading a campaign to raise funds to buy it and to convert the heritage property into a writers-in-residence retreat.  There have been various public awareness and fundraising events held to date, and a sum close to $200,000 has been raised.  The total purchase price is $700,000.

Canada’s leading writers’ organizations are appealing to the federal government for an emergency grant of $350,000 (matching funds) to save the historic Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver.  Letters of support have been received from MPs from both the Liberal party and the NDP.  Ujjahl Dosanjh, PC, QC, MP, Vancouver South, has written to the Hon. Bev Oda, PC, MP, Department of Canadian Heritage, to support this request.

There is now great urgency to the fundraising and to achieving its goal. We believe the NAJC membership and Japanese Canadian communities, in particular, should be made aware of this important project so that they may have the opportunity to join with others to bring this project to a successful conclusion.  

Japanese Canadian community members have been very proud of the author, Joy Kogawa, and benefited largely from the book, Obasan, which poignantly relates `our’ story, studied by students internationally.  We are now celebrating with her the release by Penguin of her new book, Emily Kato, a re-writing of Itsuka.  Joy decided that Itsuka was not quite good enough, to be placed alongside Obasan, and chose to re-write it.  The Joy Kogawa House will be a place where such writings and re-writings by young and renowned writers may occur, and may be celebrated.   

We urge you to send in your donation, large or small.  Donations may be made online on the TLC's website
or by sending a cheque, payable to “The Land Conservancy”,
to The Land Conservancy, 5655 Sperling Avenue, Burnaby, BC V5E 2T2
or by telephoning 604-733 2313.  Charitable receipts will be issued.

Thank you for your support.  .For further information, you may contact any of the following list of supporters.  

Save Joy Kogawa House Committee  
Anton Wagner, Secretary; (416) 863-1209; fax: 416-863-9973
201 Sherbourne St., Suite 2306, Toronto, ON M5A 3X2
Ann-Marie Metten, 604-263-6586
Todd Wong, 604-987-7124

The Land Conservancy of BC
Bill Turner, Executive Director; 250-479 8053; fax: 250-744 2251
Heather Skydt (604) 733-2313; fax: 604-299 5054
5655 Sperling Avenue, Burnaby, BC V5E 2T2

National Association of Japanese Canadians
Claudia Earl, National Administrator

The Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival
Hal Wake, Artistic Director

The Writers Union of Canada
Brian Brett, Chair
Deborah Windsor, Executive Director

The Federation of BC Writers
Brian Busby, President
Fernanda Viveiros, Executive Director

The Playwrights Guild of Canada
Amela Simic, Executive Director

The League of Canadian Poets
Mary Ellen Csamer, President; maryellen.
Joanna Poblocka, Executive Director;

PEN Canada
Constance Rooke, President
Isobel Harry, Executive Director

The Writers’ Trust of Canada
Don Oravec, Executive Director

The Canadian Authors Association
Joan Eyolfson Cadham, National President
Bernice Lever, BC Regional Vice-President

The Professional Writers Association of Canada
Gordon Graham, President

The Greater Vancouver Alliance for Arts and Culture
Heather Redfern, Executive Director

The Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers
Gillian Chan, President
Lena Coakley, CANSCAIP National Office

Asian Canadian Writers Workshop
Don Montgomery, President
Jim Wong-Chu, Executive Director

Ujjal Dosanjh asks Heritage Minister Bev Oda to support saving Joy Kogawa House

Ujjal Dosanjh asks Heritage Minister Bev Oda to support saving Joy Kogawa House

Ujjal Dosanjh is the Member of Parliament for Vancouver South, the federal riding containing the historic neighborhood of Marpole, home to the childhood home of Joy KogawaKogawa House at 1450 West 64th Avenue, was the first on its block in 1915.  It saw many owners before Joy's family moved into it in 1936.  They were forcibly removed due to the internment of Japanese Canadians in 1942, even though they were “naturalized citizens” and both Joy and her brother Tim were born in Canada. 

Who knew then, that the 6 year old little girl named Joy Nozomi Nakayama, on June 6th in Vancouver,  would become a future member of the Order of Canada in 1986?

Who knew then, that Joy Kogawa would write the 1981 novel Obasan, which would become the 11th most important book in Canada according to Quill & Quire (2nd live living author after Alice Munro), and be listed by the Literary Review of Canada as one of the 100 most important Canadian books ever written?

The Save Kogawa House committee initially met with Ujjal Dosanjh on December 19th, 2005, during the federal election campaign. He pledged support at that time, but was unable to commit to specifics because of the election call, and uncertainty whether the Liberals would be returned to power, or if he would again be a cabinet minister.

Below is the article by Robyn Stubbs in 24 HOURS

followed by the press release by Ujjal Dosanjh containing


Vancouver South MP Ujjal Dosanjh is breathing new life into efforts to save a heritage home in his riding.

The Kogawa House in Marpole is the childhood home of Canadian
author Joy Kogawa, who penned the award-winning novel Obasan
chronicling her experience as a Japanese-Canadian in Vancouver during
the Second World War.

In a letter to federal Heritage Minister Beverly Oda, Dosanjh
asked the ministry work with the Land Conservancy and the Save the
Kogawa House Committee to preserve the historic house.

The house is scheduled for demolition unless the TLC and SJKC
can come up with $1.25 million to purchase the house, restore it and
use it to host a permanent writers-in-residence program.


For Immediate Release

March 28, 2006


Honourable Ujjal Dosanjh, Member of Parliament for Vancouver South,
today called on federal Heritage Minister Beverly Oda to work with the
Land Conservancy of B.C. and the Save Joy Kogawa House Committee to
preserve Joy Kogawa House.

“Joy Kogawa House is
a historical landmark, and its existence reminds us not to forget a
past wrong,” Dosanjh said.  “I urge Minister Oda to meet with both the
Land Conservancy of B.C. and the Save Joy Kogawa House Committee, and
to work toward a viable solution to preserve this reminder of a
shameful episode in Canadian history. I am advised that as of yet,
Minister Oda has not met with either organization, despite their

Joy Kogawa House,
located on West 64th Avenue in Mr. Dosanjh's riding of Vancouver South,
is the home from which renowned Canadian author Joy Kogawa and her
family were removed as part of the internment of Japanese-Canadians
during the Second World War. The house is featured in Ms. Kogawa's
award-winning novel, Obasan.

Time runs out for Joy
Kogawa House on April 30, 2006.  Heritage Canada denied an emergency
funding request by the organizations involved for $350 000, a portion
of the amount required to purchase the house (thus preventing its
demolition) and maintain it in the future.   

Mr. Dosanjh has
written to Minister Oda regarding this issue and today raised it with
the federal B.C. Liberal Caucus; its members fully support the call to
save Joy Kogawa House.

“My colleagues and I
feel that Kogawa House is an important part of British Columbia's
history,” said Mr. Dosanjh.  “Moreover, the innovative
writers-in-residence program proposed by the Land Conservancy would
have significant cultural value.”

For more information:

Office of the Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh

(613) 868-3846

Join a dragon boat team that specializes in multicultural and community activities: Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team

Join a dragon boat team that specializes in multicultural and community activities:
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team

Hope you can join us for a wonderful
season of dragon boat paddling. 
2005 was an incredible year for the
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, and the 2006 season is twice as much fun!

In 2005, we were featured on CBC
NewsWorld, we won the David Lam Multicultural Award at Alcan Dragon Boat Festival, we
raced in the medal finals at ADBF and at Harrison Lake, then we finally  won our medals at Vancouver Taiwanese d-boat

out our 2006 activities so far with reports on:

– Cherry Blossom public paddling event,
– Community public paddling on Sundays at Dragon Zone ,
– dragon boat float in the St. Patrick's Day parade
– Lotus Sports Club's “Bill Alley Memorial Dragon Boat regatta”
– False Creek Women's Regatta
– Alcan Dragon Boat Festival report
– Kent Washington “Cornucopia Days” dragon boat race
– Vernon Dragon Boat Race

1)  March 26th – taking beginners out for public paddling at Dragon Zone.
2) “Gung Haggis” lion headed drummer at St. Patrick's Day parade.
3)  The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat float crosses Davie St. in St. Patrick's Day parade.
4)  Da Ming and Aefa take turns drumming during St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team practices 

Sundays 1pm – 3pm  (Recreation team)
Tuesdays at 6:00 sharp to 7:15 pm (Recreation team)
Wednesday at 7:00pm  (Beginner's + technique practice)

All practices are from Dragon Zone, at Creekside Park
Southeast corner of False Creek
look for Green trailer building
South of Science World – just above aqua bus ferries.

Parking – park on the street. Try Quebec or 2nd Ave.
pay parking available at Science World – no parking on city lot anymore.

Price for Spring paddling is $160 each, and will cover boat rental, coaching, and registration in Alcan Dragon Boat Festival races June 17 & 18.  Other races cost additional.

Price for Summer paddling is $100 each, and
will cover boat rental, coaching, plus registration for one summer
race.  Additional summer races are aproximately $30 each.

Other possible races are:
May 20       Lotus Sports Club “Bill Alley Memorial Dragon Boat Regatta” (Burnaby)
July 15th   
Dragon Boat Races
(Lake Meridien, Kent WA),
July 22/23 GreaterVernon Dragon Boat Festival (Kalamalka Lake, Vernon BC)
July 22       Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Festival (Harrison Lake, BC)
Sept 2/3    Vancouver
International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race

other races may be considered, depending on interest

1)  Paddling at Alcan Dragon Boat Festival
2)  Winning medals at the Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race
3)  Group shoulder massage at Sea Vancouver regatta
4)  Naoko is our flag grabber  on top a Taiwanese dragon boat

Will we have 1 or 2 teams?
team is now confirmed for the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival – but if
enough new people come on board, we can expand to two teams –
Recreation and Beginner.

have a lot of people returning.  There are some former paddlers
who have also expressed interest in re-joining, and we have lots of
interest from wanna-be paddlers.

invite friends to come out to try dragon boating over the next two
weeks.  We may run our practices in coordination with the Dragon Zone
public paddling, as we have done so far in April.

contact me by e-mail:    gunghaggis at yahoo dot ca
phone:                  778-846-7090

Cheers, Todd

Pictures from 2005
1) Drummer Todd with Flag Grabber Ed on The Eh? Team at Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race
2) Todd with Dave Samis, at Sea Vancouver Festival for dragon head carving tent
3) Todd with then Vancouver City Councillor Ellen Woodsworth and friend

Joy Kogawa story in Lethbridge Herald as Naomi's Road opera premieres in Alberta

Joy Kogawa story in Lethbridge Herald as Naomi's Road opera premieres in Alberta

Joy Kogawa is in Lethbridge Alberta, for the opening of Naomi's Road
opera.  She attended a reception afterwards, and also spoke to the

The following is a story published in the Lethbridge Herald

Dark days of internment come to life
By Al Beeber
Mar 28, 2006, 22:45

In Naomi’s Road, resilience offers hope for a better future in the
lives of two young children displaced to internment camps during the
Second World War.

That spirit, so vividly detailed in that work and the award-winning
Obasan by novelist and poet Joy Kogawa, survived and thrived despite
the efforts of Canada’s wartime government to disperse
Japanese-Canadian citizens, considered a threat to security after Japan
entered the war.

“The government policy was designed to make sure Japanese-Canadians
never amalgamated and made a community again,” said Kogawa, in the city
Monday to watch the Vancouver Opera presentation of Naomi’s Road at the
University of Lethbridge.

The opera is based on the 1986 children’s book by Kogawa, a
second-generation Japanese-Canadian who was evacuated to Slocan, B.C.
and Coaldale from Vancouver with the rest of her family during the war.
Born Joy Nozomi Nakayama, the author, poet and member of the Order of
Canada attended school in Coaldale from grade 5 to high school and
later taught elementary school there for a year.

The divorced mother of two was actively involved in the efforts to seek
redress from the Canadian government in the 1980s. The internment of
her people is one of the darkest stories in Canadian history and the
production of Naomi’s Road, which has been been staged numerous times
in B.C. schools, is one way to educate Canadians about the injustice,
including younger generations of Japanese Canadians whose family may
not have talked about the internments.

“There was an intense need on the part of parents to protect their
children. It’s a very Buddhist way of thinking, to move forward. The
morality was to endure suffering in silence.”

“Naomi’s Road is a fantastic tool, not just for education but for
healing people,” says the soft-spoken Kogawa who donated much of her
family’s possessions from their Vancouver home to the Galt Museum. Many
of those household items have been mentioned in Kogawa’s works.

“It’s a story that just won’t help Japanese Canadians but people in general. It teaches people about the follies of racism.”

“One can use art to bring about healing,” says Kogawa whose family home
is the centre of an effort by various groups to be converted into a
writer’s residence. It is currently slated for demolition.

The loss of the family home and their internship inspired her novel
Obasan which was named Canadian authors book of the year in 1981.

Canada’s efforts to compensate Japanese Canadians for the internship
were satisfactory to Kogawa who felt the process and dialogue between
Japanese Canadians and government was an act of healing.

“As far as I’m concerned, the appropriate process had been followed,” said Kogawa.
For healing to happen, the voice of the interned people needed to be heard and some of those voices were angry.

“When the kids were told, some got angry,” recalled Kogawa. The issei —
or first generation Canadian immigrants — chose often not to talk about
the internment while the nissei — the second generation — were caught
up in the dispersal and didn’t know what it was all about.

“The burden needs to be lifted by all of society. It’s not an easy process,” said Kogawa.

Anne-Marie Metten of the Vancouver committee of Save Kogawa House is
with the author in Lethbridge. She was planning to meet officials of
the Galt Museum Monday to look at the Kogawa collection so house
restorers can authentically reproduce the family’s furnishings if
efforts to save the house from the wrecking ball are successful.
“We want to create a sense of the house as it was in 1942.”

© Copyright by Lethbridge
Top of Page

Joy Kogawa and Naomi's Road opera go to Lethbridge Alberta: report from Ann-Marie Metten


Joy Kogawa and Naomi's Road opera go to Lethbridge Alberta:
Report from Ann-Marie Metten

Metten is the Vancouver coordinator for the Save Kogawa House
committee.  She and Joy Kogawa have  travelled to Lethbridge
Alberta to attend the Alberta premiere of the Naomi's Road opera, by
the Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble.

Ann-Marie is a wonderful person with many literary connections and dedicated to
the cause.  She first contacted me in early 2005, after I posted a
message suggesting Obasan could be nominated for Vancouver Public
Library's One Book One Vancouver program.  She then contacted me in
September, when the City of Vancouver recieved an inquiry about a
demolition permit for Kogawa House.

The following message is from Ann-Marie:

Just want to report several small
donations received at the reception following the performance of Naomi’s
Road in
Lethbridge yesterday.

The Vancouver Opera troupe ended their
evening show to a standing ovation, with many Japanese Canadians in the
audience – those interned and their families. Joy spoke strongly about
the need for forgiveness within the community and within
Canada as a nation, and I got
to say a few words at the reception about Kogawa House and invited questions
and discussion. Lisa Doolittle of the University of Lethbridge Theatre
Department was generous in her publicity of the campaign to rescue Kogawa
House, including a summary of the project in the programme for the evening,
posting notices of the project around the reception area, speaking about it in
her introduction, and displaying pledge forms at the buffet and book sales
tables. Lisa also arranged press coverage with the Lethbridge Herald, which ran our story on the cover of today’s
edition, along with a photograph of the troupe and a photo of Joy inside on
page 2. Global TV was expected to run the story not only at
noon today but also on their
evening news report.

Many friends and relatives came to support
Joy, with 25 Japanese Canadian seniors traveling from Calgary to attend the noon performance and many,
many others attending the evening performance. Joy and I also drove out to the
communities of Coaldale, the model of Granton in Obasan — and Vauxhall, where I spent some childhood years –
and connected with people there. We visited the
Galt Museum, which houses the Kogawa
Collection of furnishings and pieces from the Marpole house. What topped
everything, though, was our walk through the coulee and the thrill of the prairie
after snowmelt, just before spring.

It was a trip well worth the effort.
Photos to come this evening . . .

Ann-Marie Metten

Save Kogawa House Committee


SFU Scottish Studies Centre: Enlightenment & Emigration lecture series April 5/6

SFU Scottish Studies Centre: Enlightenment & Emigration lecture series April 5/6

A message from Harry McGrath, coordinator of SFU Scottish Studies, and Ron MacLeod, Scots Chair

The SFU Scottish Studies Centre is delighted to announce the last two
events in the Enlightenment & Emigration lecture series, arranged as
part of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the
University. The Centre is very gratified with the enthusiastic response
to the series so far and we hope to see a good turnout again for the
final events:

1: "18th and early 19th Century Songs and Pipe Music Celebrating
Women." This presentation will have the informal atmosphere of a
ceilidh and will take place at 2.30 pm: Wednesday 5 April: SFU Burnaby:
Forum Chambers (Student Society room below the Highland Pub).
The program will be introduced by Kirsteen McCue (highly regarded
singer/noted lecturer in Scottish Literature at Glasgow
University/popular BBC3 Presenter) & David Hamilton (expert accompanist
& choral director: Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama). It also
features skilled piper Brianne Young from the SFU Pipe Band who will
perform songs & pipe music reflecting the lives of women of 18th &
early 19th century Scotland.

2: Lecture/Recital entitled "Ae Fond Kiss: Songs by and about Women in
Enlightened Scotland" Thursday 6 April 8pm, SFU Harbour Centre,
Downtown Vancouver.
In this presentation, Dr McCue and Mr Hamilton will call on a range of
song editions to tell the stories of women in Scottish songs of the
Enlightenment Era. The stories cover the position of women on hot
political and social issues of the time, and looks at the kinds of
women that male editors wanted to shape.
Above all, however, the presentation celebrates the vision Scottish
women had of love and life during a complex time in their history.

1. To find the Forum Chambers, go to the main university concourse. The
Forum Chambers is on the opposite side of the concourse from the library. Go
through the coffee bar and downstairs. The room is just below the Highland Pub
and we hope that there will be a general movement upstairs after the ceilidh.
There is no need to sign up for the ceilidh - just show up.

Please note starting time of 2.30pm - not noon as stated in the
newsletter and on the posters.

2. For the Harbour Centre lecture/recital, the usual procedures apply.
Please phone 604-291-5100 to register. There will be a reception following the

24 Hours: One step closer to redress and apology

24 Hours:  One step closer to redress and apology

Here;s an article from today's 24 Hours on the continuing saga of Chinese Head Tax redress.

March 27, 2006

One step closer to redress and apology



Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) announced Saturday that a meeting with
Canadian Heritage Minister, Bev Oda, was a step
towards redress payments and an apology from the federal government to Head Tax
payers, their spouses and descendants.

throne speech on April 4 will include a statement regarding Head Tax
redress,” said B.C. coalition spokesperson Bill Chu.

attended the meeting in Ottawa,
which also saw government officials hinting towards a formal apology on behalf
of the Canadian government to be carried out on Canada Day.

CCNC also emphasized the importance of including Chinese Canadian history in
Canadian social studies curriculums across the country.

encourage the government to take a serious stance on education, meaning that
education is not just about educating our own,” he said.

sentiment echoed by Head Tax descendant Cynthia Lam.

have lost at least two or three generations of our community who had to live
with that kind of discrimination,” she said. “It really touches your
heart to see how they live even today.”

of the surviving Head Tax payers are now nearing the age of 100.


BBC Radio Scotland: Interviewed this morning for 'The Radio Cafe'

BBC Radio Scotland: Interviewed this morning for 'The Radio Cafe'

I put on my maple leaf tartan and headed down to the CBC Vancouver studios this morning for a 9am appointment with  BBC Radio Scotland's arts and culture programme ('The Radio Café').  I talked with researcer Bronwen Tulloch, who is actually born in New Zealand.

We talked about why a 5th generation Chinese Canadian would be
interested in Scottish culture.  I explained that Canada's true
temperment as a nation is much more Scots than English, and that the
Scots are part of Canada's pioneering heritage, as they helped explore
this country such as Simon Fraser, one of the first Whites to cross
Canada and explore the Pacific Coast, by paddling down the Fraser
River, later named after him.

The Scots came to Canada from across the Atlantic, and named the new
land 'Nova Scotia.'  The Chinese came from across the Pacific
Ocean and called the new land 'Gum San' – meaning Gold Mountain.

We talked about how I came to invent Gung Haggis Fat Choy and shared some of my personal story.  I told Bronwen  that I wore my maple leaf tartan
kilt for our Canadian Club celebrations for flag day, and that it had
the colours of Canada represented in the greens, yellows and reds of
the maple leaf.

It's a wonderful expression of multiculturalism, when we can learn to
embrace each of the different pioneer cultures and history of
Canada.  But it becomes more than tokenism, when we start to
explore the historical interactions of the cultures, and the impacts of
the cultures on Canadian culture and society.  It's amazing at the
conversations that can be sparked when you are wearing a kilt.  At
the last kilts night at Doolin's, I met a fellow and we talked about
Scottish and Chinese explorers such as the Chinese Admiral Zheng He,
written up in the book 1421, the Year the Chinese Discovered the World.

The interview will be broadcast on BBC
Radio Scotland's arts and culture programme, 'The Radio Café' the week
starting Monday 3rd April. It's a series I'm running across the week
with New York's Tartan Week (April 1-8) as the peg.

Cherry Blossom dragon boat public paddling regatta March 26

Cherry Blossom dragon boat public paddling regatta

Todd Wong gives
paddling instruction to one of two boatloads of people who showed up to
the inaugural Cherry Blossom Festival public dragon boat paddlings
event.  First-time paddlers were assisted by experienced paddlers
from teams: Gung Haggis Fat Choy, The Eh? Team, and GVRD 44 Cheeks. –
photo Dave Samis

The Creekside Park
cherry blossoms were not in bloom, but dragon boat friendships are
already developing as many paddlers hit the water with their
teams.  Wanna-be paddlers can try out paddling at the Dragon Zone
paddling club, organized by the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival, located at
Creekside Park, at the South East end of False Creek, just south of the
Science World building.

The first Dragon Zone public paddling /
Cherry Blossom regatta went well.  About 17 people showed up for
Cherry Blossom paddling, and were assisted by experienced
paddlers.  5 people from Eh Team, 1 person from GVRD 44 Cheeks,
and 9 paddlers from Gung Haggis Fat Choy, all came to share stories
about their paddling adventures and friendships.

We started out
by having everybody meet inside the clubhouse, as the weather was damp
outside.  We did introductions, and I shared dragon boat history
(origins, local and international) with everybody.  Some people
had come to try the public paddling, advertised by Dragon Zone, some
because they had heard of the Cherry Blossom event.  All were
looking forward to trying dragon boats for their first time.

took two boats out.  I coached one boat with Shawn steering. 
Shawn is one of the staff members at Dragon Zone, working the docks and
clubhouse, ensuring safety and smooth management.  I have known
him for a number of years, in his role as a volunteer for the Alcan
Dragon Boat Festival, and also as a paddler and steersperson for
different teams.

Second boat coached by Dave Montrose with Ed
from Eh Team steering.  The friendship between Dave Montrose and
myself goes back years to 1998, when we first paddled together on a
Civil Serpents team competing in Victoria.  In 1999, we again
found ourselves on the same team – this time it was Spirit of Vancouver
competing for a race in San Francisco.  Dave joined me when Civil
Serpents team went competitive in 2001, and we also helped set up the
39th Brigade Army team, and some of their paddlers joined us in 2002
for paddling in Kelowna.

We split people into two groups and matched experienced paddlers with 1st timers. 
We did warm up exercises, paddle instruction, safety lesson – then loaded onto the boats.

Boats separated for paddle instructions, then met for a race towards Plaza of Nations.  Ending with a short race back to
Dragon Zone.  All races were kept short, to minimize stress and risk of injury to paddlers.  Having
the two boats out together was ideal, because we could have the mini
races.  It gave people a sense of dragon boat “racing”.

really enjoyed themselves, and many said they would be back.  We
had great compliments from the paddlers from the Eh? team – a
wondefully friendly seniors team.  I have known Bill Redhead and
his team mate Ed for a few years, since my father first painted a
unicorn on a paddle for Ed.  Dave Samis paddles on the GVRD 44
Cheeks team, and he has also joined Gung Haggis Fat Choy for races in
Victoria, Seattle, Harrison Lake and the Vancouver Taiwanese
Race.  I also taught Dave how to steer a boat, and like with Dave
Montrose, we have developed a nice frienship over the years.

is dragon boat friendships like these that inspired me to create an
event for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.  I have been
marvelling at all the cherry blossoms sparkling in Vancouver for the
past few weeks, and thinking that it is very cool that Vancouver now
has a Cherry Blossom festival.  Hopefully next year, we will be
able to have more paddlers out for our annual event, and that when
Vancouverites start to see cherry blossoms blooming, they will start to
think, “Time to get into a dragon boat for some paddling.”

you would like to try dragon boat paddling, come down to Dragon Zone at
Creekside Park.  For $2, on Sunday at 1pm, you can have a paddle
instruction session – until April 30th.

Check out the beautiful photos of Vancouver's cherry trees and also the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
website.  The following 2002 pictures are from the Sakura Diary
website, and the trees can be seen while paddling on False Creek.
Cherry Blossoms overlooking False Creek between Granville Island and Burrard Bridge.

Granville Island Cherry trees