Monthly Archives: December 2006

Christmas 2006

Christmas 2006

This has been one of my busiest Christmases ever.  And it has also been one of the best Christmases.

Here are some of my highlights:

December 15th, Friday: 
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team social – movie and eats at the Bacchus Lounge

December 16th, Saturday:
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team activity – skiing on Grouse Mountain, snow boarding and sleigh ride:  check our article
Gung Haggis Fat Choy paddlers enjoy the winter

December 17th, Sunday:
I play my accordion during social hour for my Church group, Centre for Spiritual Living.
Christmas carols and Christmas songs – with my friend Bob on his accoustic guitar.  This is our gift of song for others to enjoy.

December 19th Tuesday:
Holly Cole concert with Vancouver Symphony Orchesta.  I treat my girlfriend, and we are joined by two good friends who had never attended a Holly Cole concert before – they love it!

December 21st, Thursday:
Kogawa House committee Christmas Party
What could be better than hanging with incredible people that you admire and like – and who admire and like you back!
Joy Kogawa returns to Vancouver.  Committee organizers Ann-Marie Metten and David Kogawa rent Baldwin House on Deer Lake for the dinner party.  Bill Turner, executive director of The Land Conservancy of BC attends. Me and my accordion lead Christmas singalongs.

December 22nd, Friday:
Winter Solstice at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens.
The gardens and park are transformed into a wonderland of light and magic.  Very cool.  members of GHFC dragon boat team come out to join Deb and me for a traditional walkabout celebrating Chinese Dong Zhi (winter solstice). check our article
Gung Haggis Fat Choy paddlers enjoy the winter

December 24th, Sunday:
Jean Downey of the Kyoto Journal wants to write a piece about me and Gung Haggis Fat Choy for her column  Ten Thousand Things: Multicultural Webfinds.  She says that she really likes my humanitarian perspective on interculturalism and multiculturalism.

December 24th, Sunday:
Meet friends for drinks and appetizers at The Sandbar Restaurant on Granville Island.  Judy Maxwell returns to Vancouver from Australia where she is working on her PhD on Chinese migration.  She has done research on the Chinese Canadian veterans.

December 24th, Sunday:
Attend Christmas Eve service for Centre for Spiritual Living.
Play more Christmas songs and carols on my accordion with Bob and his guitar.  I sing so much, I loose my voice the next day.

December 25th, Monday:
Open presents with my family.  I have a new two month old niece.  My 3 1/2 year old nephew is excited with every gift – whether receiving or giving.

My girlfriend gives me a wonderful red vest, made with a Chinese gold dragon pattern.  Perfect for Gung Haggis Fat Choy events!  pictures to come soon!

December 26th, Tuesday:
Drive to Vernon with girlfriend and friend to visit her parents.  It starts snowing as we arrive at Kalamalka Lake by 4:30pm.  Wonderful to see everybody.  I get to carve the ham.  We watch Polar Express dvd.  It snows all evening – light powdery stuff.

December 27th, Wednesday:
We wake up to 4 inches of snow,  a real winter wonderland.  We open stockings and presents.  It's Christmas morning all over again!  Christmas dinner with turkey.  Zsuzsanna Luckas and I play Christmas songs for dinner guests, on piano and accordion.

And throughout this Christmas season, whether rich or poor, yellow or white, red or black, happy or sad….  there is intercultural grace whether we see it or not.  It lives and breathes within our lives, sometimes so subtley that we do not recognize it.  Sometimes it is blatantly proud, and thunders it's arrival.

But here I am on the outskirts of Vernon.  I haven't seen another Asian person since I waved goodbye to my father yesterday morning.  Yet, tonight with friends of my girlfriend's parents I could talk to them about our differing views about Chinese head tax redress, First Nations land claims, Gung Haggis Fat Choy, history revisionism…. and still lead them in games of poker and Christmas carol singing.  Life is only as wonderful as you choose to make it.

Chinatown gentrification in Boston: protest by adapting Christmas carols

Chinatown gentrification in Boston: 
protest by adapting Christmas carols

The following comes to me from one of our GHFC dragon boat paddlers.
BARBARA WALDERN - now doing an anthropology degree at SFU.

Vancouver Chinatown is undergoing its own gentrification. Some people think that
Vancouver Chinatown is dying. In fact, it's vitality has been in decline for decades.
But there are revitalization projects forhistoric Vancouver Chinatown.
Will it make a difference?

NEWS: Boston Carolers Sing About Gentrification

Carolers: Gentrification means many not merry

By Laura Crimaldi
Boston Herald

Chinatown residents are hoping a few fa-la-las, and maybe a ho, ho,
ho, will
help residents battle the gentrification blues.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) and the Chinatown Resident
Association will go caroling throughout Chinatown next week to raise
awareness about the influx of high-rises, hotels and ritzy restaurants
squeezing residents of the neighborhood.

"This is the first time we're doing this," said Amy Leung, a CPA
activist, who is helping organize the caroling stops at six apartment
buildings. "The idea is to get the information out in a fun way."

CPA Executive Director Lydia Lowe has penned pointed lyrics to the
tune of Christmas classics like "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" to describe
what gentrification is doing to Chinatown.

The lyrics of "Won't Be Living Long In Chinatown," which is sung
to the tune of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland," include "We always said that
what we need is housing, / But penthouse condos isn't what we meant. / Who
knew that C-town could be like the South End / This strip where migrant
workers pitched their tents,"

Four carolers practiced the songs, which will be sung in English
and Chinese, at the CPA office yesterday. Carolers plan to bring maps of
Chinatown with their sheet music to show tenants how much development
is going on in their neighborhood.

These are the lyrics to one of the "carols" that Chinatown neighborhood
groups will sing to battle gentrification:
(To the tune of 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas')

The MP3, "Won't Be Living Long in Chinatown"
The MP3, "We Wish That We Get to Stay Here"


We wish that we get to stay here,
We hope that we get to stay here,
We'll fight so we get to stay here!
Chinatown is our home!


Support other tenants
To stay in their homes,
Follow our master plan
As development grows.


We wish that we get to stay here,
We hope that we get to stay here,
We'll fight so we get to stay here!
Chinatown is our home!


We need some laws changed
To make ourselves heard
Some real city planning
That's not just in word.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy paddlers enjoy the winter

Gung Haggis Fat Choy paddlers enjoy the winter

Gung Haggis paddlers trade paddles for snowshoes, skis and snow boards – photo Todd Wong

have a great bunch of people on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  Many people have really
built some good friendships.  Everything we continue to do, somehow seems
to revolve around or include eating.

In December we met 3 times.  On
Friday, December 15th, some of us met to see the new James Bond
movie.  Afterwards we then met up with more team members at the Bacchus Lounge
at the Wedgewood Hotel.  This is a fabulous piano bar, and we were
almost right next to the piano, which featured a very enjoyable pianist
who sounded like Harry Connick Jr.  When we first walked in, he
was singing “Fly Me to the Moon” – one of the special songs that I
share with my girlfriend. Perfect timing!

We had 12 people (enough to paddle a dragon boat)
crowded around a table in the dining room – right next to a couple
having a romantic dinner.  Not to worry – the couple was very
nice, and offered up their table to us.  And it turned out that
the fellow was a film maker who had been researching dragon
boats.  I quickly told him that our team had been featured on CBC
Newsworld last year, French public broadcasting program Thalassa the
year before, and CBC French Telvision this year!

The Bacchus
Lounge was a great place to celebrate some of our team members'
birthdays. Christine and Daming in December, and Wendy's upcoming
birthday on January 1st.  We ordered 2 appetizer platters and 2
pizzas.  All were very good! Yum Yum!

Wendy and Jen ham it up while Jonas helps Dan with his snowboard – photo Todd Wong

The next day, some of us tried out snowboarding for the first time on Grouse Mountain
Jonas had offered to teach beginners.  I was the only skier, but
was also able to help the neophyte boarders too.  During an eating
break, I tried out Jen's board and boots.  I fell lots, and it
took me 3 tries before I could get to the top of the Paradise beginner
hill rope tow.  It had been 12 1/2 years since my only other snow
board try.  Now I remember why I have stuck to skies.  It's
easier, and I can still do my old free-style tricks.

Some of our
team members went snow shoeing instead.  We decided this would be
a great way for people not interested in skiing or boarding to join us
for a winter activity day.  Saturday, January 6th is our planned
snow shoeing day.  While on Grouse we also went for a sleigh ride
– pulled by a snow tractor.  It's a fun way to see some of the
sights on Grouse Mountain, especially for tourists.

On the winter sleigh ride with Jen, Tzhe, Todd, Wendy and Jonas – photo – Todd

Winter Solstice, December 22nd

gazebo features panels telling the story of the Moon Goddess and her
Jade Rabbit, created by Jamie, the new Marketing coordinator for the
Gardens – photo Stephen Mirowski

We met at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden to take part in the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival  which is part of the city wide festivities organized by the Secret Lantern Society
It is very magical to see both the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park and Gardens lit
up by lanterns.  There is also live music played in the Park
gazebo, and the new Hall of One Hundred Rivers.

Leaves that fell
off the tree in Autumn were saved, made into lanterns, then placed back
on the original tree theat they first fell off of.  – photo
Stephen Mirowski.

A highlight for me was meeting the new marketing coordinator for
the Gardens, Jaime, who lived 10 years in Beijing and speaks fluent
Mandarin.  He even has Scottish heritage, and his wife is
Chinese.  Imagine that!  We had a great chat about Gung
Haggis Fat Choy, and look forward to finding a special role for him!

A paper lantern
crane is lit up, next to blue LED lights in the courtyard of the Hall
of One Hundred Rivers – photo Stephen Mirowski.

taking pictures, sipping tea, walking amongst the lanterns, we then
spent lots of time (and money) checking out the wonderful items in the
gift shop managed by my friend Alexis.  Alexis first came to the
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner back in 2002 and LOVED it!  It was
9:40pm and we headed up Pender St. in Chinatown, making our way to
Hon's Won Ton House.  More food!  Duck, Shanghai noodles,
Fried Rice, vegetables and pot stickers… yum, yum, yum.  It's
true, our dragon boat team identity and culture is rooted in
food.  I don't know of another dragon boat team with a food word
in it's name.

CBC Lotusland Saskachewan (CHOW) documentary about Janice Wong tonight

CBC Lotusland Saskachewan (CHOW) documentary about Janice Wong – tonight December 22.

It was a tasty trip down memory lane for Janice Wong at her dad’s old restaurant.  
Chow” Author Janice Wong is featured in the CBC documentary “Lotusland Saskatchewan.

spring and summer, Janice Wong (my 2nd cousin-once removed) did some
filming with producer Costa Maragos for a documentary about her, and
her book CHOW. 

Janice will also be featured in the Generations documentary about the
Rev. Chan family descendants.  Costa also produced the Generations Saskatchewan documentary.

Janice wrote me:   

Lotusland Saskatchewan (Chow) documentary has been rescheduled to run tomorrow night (Friday, December 22) during the CBC National, 10-11 pm…but,
as it goes with short documentaries during the news broadcast, there is
still the chance that it could be preempted again.

If you'd like to catch up on the latest news about CHOW you can visit

To view the CBC web page that chronicles the documentary, visit

The Lotus Cafe  
The Wongs sold the Lotus Cafe in the 1970s.  Courtesy Janice Wong

Here is an excerpt and link to the CBC documentary:

It took just a few moments for the memories to come flooding back as
Janice Wong and her mother entered the kitchen of the old Lotus Cafe in
Prince Albert.

“Mom, look at the old dishes,” said a surprised-sounding Wong, who was in the central Saskatchewan city on a visit from Vancouver.

“The same dishes my mom purchased for the restaurant 50 years ago. So neat to see them again.”

“Those are the originals,” replied Janice's mom Mary, a touch of a smile playing on her lips.

So began their trip down memory lane.

Wongs, Janice’s dad and mom, Dennis and Mary, and her uncle Cecil,
opened the Lotus Cafe on Central Avenue in 1956 and operated it for
almost a quarter of a century.

The mini doc is available on the net until the next broadcast of The National.  pick the national.