Mayor Sam Sullivan and me, on board the Queen of Oak Bay
Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan and Todd Wong – just two boys who grew up in Vancouver's East End. – photo Todd Wong
I bumped into Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan on the 9am sailing to
Victoria on the Queen of Oak Bay. Sam was travelling to Victoria for a
BC Munincipalities conference. I was travelling with a CBC documentary
film crew because we were going to Vancouver Island to interview my
Family history is a bit of a theme between Sam and me. The first
time we met was a
few years ago, at a history fair at the Vancouver Public Library.
had a display of the Rev. Chan family photos, and he stopped to share
stories about his family. We discovered that we both grew up in
same East Vancouver neighborhoods, our fathers had shops in the same
area – his on Hastings and mine on Venables. And we briefly
attended Vancouver Technical highschool together for one year.
In the years since, Sam has attended many events that I have hosted for
Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop or Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners.
Last year, we featured Mayor Sam reading a Chinese poem as part of the
GHFC dinner festivities.
What do you talk about when you meet the Vancouver mayor on a ferry to Victoria?
Well… first of all, you have to appreciate that wherever Sam Sullivan
travels, he is approached by strangers who want to say hello.
Sam's appearance at the Torino Olympics closing ceremony made an
incredible impact, as he waved the Olympic flag from his
wheelchair. As a quadripelic mayor he has raised the profile for
wheel chair atheletes and physically challenged people globally.
During our chat, a young boy came up to ask to say hello and ask to
take a picture with the Mayor. Another traveller going to the BC
Munincipalities conference brought his daughter who uses a
wheelchair, to say hello to Sam Sullivan.
Todd Wong and Vancouver mayor Sam
Sullivan at Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2006 dinner. Sam read a poem in
Chinese. Maybe for 2007 we can find him a plaid neck tie with the
Sullivan tartan or a Chinese jacket. Maybe we can find a Robbie
Burns poem to draw on his Scottish heritage of the Sullivan clan… –
photo Ray Shum.
Okay… we definitely chatted about the next Gung Haggis Fat Choy
dinner. Mayor Sam will be pleased to attend. I just have to
go through his City of Vancouver protocol department now. I also
informed him about some of the latest issues in the Asian Canadian
community, and told him about a recent Head Tax Redress recognition day
at the City of Toronto.
“Do you think this is something we should do in Vancouver?” Sam asked.
“Oh yes… the head tax reress campaign started in Vancouver back in
the 1980's,” I said. “We have many key figures here in Vancouver,
and the first redress payment was to Charlie Quan here in
Vancouver. Vancouver city councillors Raymond Louie and George
Chow are also head tax descendants.”