Monthly Archives: March 2007

Canadian dragon boater in Australia: when road trips go wrong

Canadian dragon boater in Australia: when road trips go wrong

Dave Samis – Gung Haggis paddler in 2006 St. Patrick's Day Parade.  Now he is enroute to dragon boat races in Sydney Australia. – photo Todd Wong

Dragon boat road trips to foreign exotic paddling destinations can become incredible experiences, or road trips in hell, surrounded by lost paddler, missed races, injuries, arguments and unpaid bills.  Fortunately Gung Haggis dragon boat team hasn't had anything like that.  We've had mishaps such as not enough paddler, minor arguments, getting lost on the road.  Once in Portland, I was so tired after a race I left my coaching buddy/steersperson in the parking lot, as I drove to the hotel.  The Gung Haggis team has travelled to Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Harrison, Kelowna and Vernon.  I have joined other teams to race in all the above places plus San Francisco and Penticton.

Gung Haggis paddler Dave Samis is on his way to Honolulu with a team put together to compete in Sydney Australia.  The adventures are already beginning in Honolulu, before the team even landed in the land of Oz.

Hi Todd
GHFC correspondent checking in.

Brief report
Snorkled with Canadian team, hiked Diamond Head (walked from hotel) became a biker gang.

Accidents and incidents
14 team members rented scooters and travelled to some beaches east of  Waikiki.  Travelling along the highway about 20 k east of Honolulu ran into a rain storm.  One scooter broke down so w pulled off the highway.  My scooter wasn't slowing fast enough with the back brake only (rental guy said to use both front and rear) so I applied the front brake.

Wham !!!

The scooter was sliding on it's side down the wet highway with me underneath.  Not fun.  I have road rash on knees, left hand and arm and very sore ribs. Scooter has a scrape.

Also a second peson the team is injured she hit a parked car on a turn. Her arm is in a sling.

Today practices here in 12 man canoes.  I would like to participate and will as a steers but will not be up to paddling with my sore ribs.  Note – outrigger and longboat steers also paddle as they are steering.

Dave Samis
GHFC correspondent from Hawaii

Dawn Pemberton of The Shirleys is artist in residence at RIME

Dawn Pemberton of The Shirleys is artist in residence at RIME for April

I like The Shirleys. Who wouldn't like “eight sassy, soulful women singing the songs that they feel could help make the world just that much better.”

Here's a picture of Toddish McWong with The Shirleys at the WISE Hall at a “Women in Politics” COPE fundraiser / birthday celebration for Ellen Woodsworth May 27, 2005.  Dawn Pemberton is the diva on the far right. – photo Meena Wong

The Shirleys were one of the best received performers at the 2006 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.  They performed accapella versions of the traditional Chinese song Mo Li Hua (Jasmine Flower), an African lullabye and Woman's Song for Beijing.  Wherever they go, the Shirleys have a tendency to raiser the audience to their feet and bring the house down.

Dawn Pemberton is one of the Shirleys Divas.  She will be the Artist in Residence for April at RIME.

Shirleys Diva Keona Hammond sent me the following notice:

The smokin’ and fabulous,

always spectaculous,





is April’s artist in residence at RIME.

That’s right,

The Shirleys’ own scintillating diva is taking over the town,

and that means that every Sunday night will be





Here are the details,

Now it’s up to you to


to have Sunday nights with Dawn.

Location    1130 Commercial Drive, Vancouver

Admission     Cover $8 @ the door

Contact     604.215.1130 or see

April 1st

The No Shit Shirleys

are eight soulful singing women offering up an acapella stew guaranteed
to kick you in the pants! They sing everything from Cuban Carnival
music and tragic Russian love songs to sweet Mandarin flirtations and
wrenching Appalachian protests. Their harmonies are complex, their
arrangements original and they sing in at least seven different
languages. Their mission: to promote joy, love and happiness through
singing and – if possible – to save the world. Can they do it? We say

April 8th

Dawn Pemberton
and Curt Allison host a
Sunday night gospel and soul experience guaranteed to make you stomp
your feet, clap your hands and sing your heart out! Curt Allison,
hailing all the way from North Carolina, plays with fiery determination
and invokes some of gospel's greatest piano players!  Together Curt and
Dawn will blow the roof off!

April 15th

The Dawn Pemberton Trio creates an intimate, connected, soulful
and heartfelt setting with their arrangements and adaptations of the
songs that we all know and love.  Together they explore and craft their
own book of modern standards with a sense of adventure, curiosity,
quirkiness and serious groove.  Dawn Pemberton-vocals, Jeff
Younger-guitar, Cory Curtis-bass.

April 22nd

Dawn Pemberton Trio dive right in and
explore the massive musical legacy of The Beatles.  Dawn
Pemberton-vocals, Jeff Younger-guitar, Cory Curtis-bass.

April 29th

The Deep End
is a 7 piece funk and soul
locomotive that will lay the dirty on you like no one else can!!! Bring
your dancing shoes and get ready to throw down. The Deep End is
Kristian Naso-trumpet, Dan Pigot-tenor sax, Shannon Thue-keys, Cory
Curtis-bass, Jeff Younger-guitar and Dawn Pemberton-vocals.  PS…It's
also Dawn's Birthday so come on out and help her celebrate!

Dragon Boating is a Team sport… I love it!

Dragon Boating is a Team sport…  I love it!


I have
coached dragon boat teams since 1994.  The
Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dragon Boat team originally began 10 years ago as the Celebration
dragon boat team – before changing names in 2002 to reflect the Gung Haggis Fat
Choy fundraiser dinner, and embrace the Scottish-Chinese-Canadian
intercultural theme as an extension of the multicultural theme adopted by so many different dragon boat festivals.

the years, I have coached both community and corporate teams. 
Corporate teams for companies such as Electronic Arts (1998, 1999),
Unipharm (1997), Motorola (2001), E-One Moli Energy (1999-2001), GVRD (2003) and
Fiesta West (1994).  This year I am coaching the UA Power Dragons
which one half are employees of Unipharm, some of whom remember the
silver medal they won in 1999 in the Novice B division at Alcan Dragon
Boat Festival.  The other half are employees from Adecco.

The following is an expanded article about “Team Aspects” that I had sent to the team.

The “team aspect” is incredible. 

You can do so many more things at a higher level than as an
individual.  A team of 20 paddlers can pull a water skier.  But you
can't do that by yourself.  It's fun to bounce ideas off each other,
and develop both support for each other as well as friendly competition.

But it is also important that everybody is on the
same page.  If teams can develop a “team culture” and “team philosophy”
– then this helps the team go farther.  It is important for a
recreational team to develop a sense of inclusiveness, and for captains
and other group leaders to make sure everybody is feeling included and
making a contributtion, AND having fun.

At the first dragon boat coaching conference in Vancouver, organized by
Alan Carlsson of the False Creek Racing Canoe Club, I led the workshop
about “History, Sociology and Team Tribalism about dragon boats.” It
was a fun workshop that went over how modern dragon boat racing spread
throughout the world from Hong Kong, to the rest of the world – largely
because the Hong Kong Tourism Bureau gave gifts of dragon boats to
other cities, such as Vancouver for Expo 86. 

In the workshop, I also talked about what I call “Team tribalism,” about how dragon boat teams are
really like individual tribes.  They develop their own culture,
personality, goals and philosophy.  They often see other teams as
competing tribes.  They look to see what other teams are doing to
go faster, fundraise or recruit.  It's like if one team has fire,
other teams want fire.  They might eventually get fire, but that
doesn't mean they know how to use it.  Teams that spy on each
other do not necessarily know how to use the information.  When
teams are able to work together, they are able to build a society.

For many beginning teams with new paddlers, there is a big learning
curve.  Ideally it is important to bring a “team elder” who can
pass on knowledge to the new paddlers and help develop the team
culture.  An experienced coach is ideal.  A coach can share
stories about what other teams have learned while teaching a new team
the skills necessary to both paddle well, and to work together.

We like to say that a dragon boat
team will only go as fast as the slowest person allows us to.  So it's
important that we encourage everybody to improve.  For some first-time
paddlers, they may feel un-athletic, and not contributing to the team's
performance.  They may feel like dead weight on the boat, because they
are not paddling in time.  In my experience, it takes sometimes 6 or 7
practices before the timing really kicks in.  Some people get it right
off the bat – some don't.  But almost everybody gets the sense of the
fun of paddling, and hanging out with a great group of people.

So…. if you are feeling
like you are slowing the team down because you are uncoordinated or
weak.  Don't worry.  We will help support your learning curve.  Timing
and strength will come.  The important thing is that you are making new
friends, learning new skills, and having a great time.

It's been interesting that many strong males who do body building, or
are strong atheletes sometimes have the most challenging time learning
to paddle as a team.  They are used to performing individual tasks
that require strength.  With a paddle in their hands, they often
try to paddle as hard as they can with their head down and their eyes
on the paddle.  Their stroke is strong and long.  In an
individual boat, they would probably go faster than their team
mates.  But in a dragon boat, they are often out of time, paddling
out of synch or paddling with too long a stroke, causing the boat to

It takes time to learn to paddle together.  It takes time to match
the entries, stroke lengths and rates of 20 paddlers together, until
they paddle as if they are one blade entering the water together. 
But that is what it takes: Patience and sensitivity to those in the
boat with you.  We train all the paddlers to watch the timing of
the two lead paddlers sitting in seat one.  We train them not to
rely on their ears, but on their eyes.  The drummer gives them
both visual and voice cues to correct mistakes or to lead them to
better performance.

Every paddler is important.  Every paddler must paddle in time
together.  If a paddler misses a stroke or two, the opportunity is
lost for the boat to be strong in that moment.  A race stretching
anywhere from 2 to 3 minutes is a series of aproximately 120 to 200
paddle strokes.

the breast cancer survivors age 50+ are getting into dragon boat racing
now.  One of the things that they discovered is that the dragon
boat team experience mirrored many aspects of cancer social support
groups.  Over my years as a cancer survivor I attended different
social support groups and studied it as part of both health and sport
psychology.  Social support is a big part of being a team. 
It helps individuals go through the tough times, and feel that they are
not alone, as well as encouraging individuals to do their best. 
Breast cancer dragon boat teams are now going to the National and World
Championships.  If they can do
it.  We can do it.

See below
for and article and picture that ran in a Portland Newspaper.  Suzi
Clouthier is a friend of mine that paddles on the Wasabi Women Team
Huge team
.  She has medaled at World Championships and comes up to
Alcan every year.. 

picture below looks like men's teams.  The team closest looks great! 
Look at their rotation and straight outside arm. Perfect!  Great
deltoid, tricep and latissimus dorsi muscles!

team in the middle is finishing their exit.  Men's teams go really
fast, so that is why their paddles are so far back for their exit.

team in the back is out of time.  They are a boat length behind the
other teams, and probably panicking.  This is the moment the timing of
the team breaks down, and they start to paddle as individuals instead
of working together. Seat 3's head is down, and is already starting the
stroke before Seat 1 has finished recovery/reach and started the entry.

Smooth as silk, fierce as dragons

The U.S. Dragon Boat Racing Championship in Tampa fuses athleticism and teamwork with
moments of Zen.

By STEPHANIE HAYES, Times Staff Writer
Published August 27, 2006

[Times photo: Chris Zuppa]
Teams from around the country compete in the 2006 USBF U.S. National
Dragon Boat Racing Championship in Garrison Channel.

TAMPA – For Suzi Cloutier, it's about the perfect “Zen moment” when the paddlers are exactly in time with the beat of the drum.

For Janet Jastremski, it's about forming bonds with other breast cancer survivors, and coming to terms with
her diagnosis.

dragon boat racing. And, okay, technically it's about commemorating the
death of the Chinese poet Qu Yuan. Legend says he thumbed his nose at a
corrupt government 2,000 years ago by jumping into the Milou River.
Fishermen paddled to try and save him and beat drums to ward off hungry
The dragon boats invaded Tampa this weekend for
the 2006 U.S. Dragon Boat Racing Championship, which will determine
national champions. Members of Team USA will compete in the 2007 world
championships in Sydney, Australia.

Team categories include
youth teams, age 50 and older and breast cancer support groups, to name
a few. Jastremski, 58, came to Tampa from Philadelphia to compete with
Hope Afloat, her team of 60 breast cancer survivors.

The team seemed like an athletic way for Jastremski to join a support group. She never imagined the hard work involved.

“I'm going to be out there with these middle-aged
ladies and we're going to be paddling around,” she said she thought. “I got the shock of my life.”

steerer and 18 to 20 paddlers are on board during a race. A drummer
beats a rhythm for the paddlers, who race for speed with other boats.
Most dragon boats are at least 40 feet long and 700 pounds, and, well,
look like dragons.

“It's 22 people doing the exact same
thing at the exact same time with a lot of power,” said 38-year-old
Cloutier, who came from Portland, Ore., with the Wasabi Women team.

Cloutier and friends posed for pictures in front of a giant steel
dragon sculpture in Cotanchobee Park, between Garrison Channel and the
St. Pete Times Forum. They planned to watch races Saturday and get back
on board to compete Sunday.

“When you're on the boat, you don't get the perspective of what it looks like,” said Wasabi teammate Kristin Anderson, 30.

Dan Smith, a 38-year-old from Harbour Island, watched the
races and talked to some teams about joining up in time for next year's championship.

“It caught my attention,” he said. “I love the fluid, in-sync energy of it.”
To hear Jastremski tell it, it's even better on the water.

you're all working together and if you're all in sync, the boat will
lift up and glide across the water,” she said. “It's exciting.”

races continue today from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a dragon boat
trade show from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cotanchobee Park, 601 St. Pete
Times Forum Drive. The event is free for spectators. Visit

Dave Samis – Gung Haggis dragon boat paddler going to Australian Nationals: The last Canadian practice

Dave Samis – Gung Haggis dragon boat paddler
going to Australian Nationals:

The last Canadian practice


The Clearly Canadian dragon boat team
on their last BC dragon boat practice on the Fraser River at Ft.
Langley, before heading to Hawaii enroute to race in the Australian
National dragon boat Races in Sydney Australia – photo Dave Samis.

Dave Samis is a Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dragon Boat team alumni summer paddler.  He also races with GVRD 44 Cheeks for the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.  Dave first paddled with the team 2003 post ADBF at Kent Washington for the Cornucopia Dragon Boat Races and winning a medal in Victoria when Gung Haggis paddlers joined up with San Francisco's Dieselfish team at the 2003 Victoria Dragon Boat Festival, and then paddling/steering at the first Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race.

   image  image
Samis helps Todd Wong carve a wooden dragon boat head at Sea Vancouver
Festival with Eric Neighbor's dragon head in foreground – photo Dave

In 2005 Dave Samis started early by helping to carve the Gung Haggis
Fat Choy dragon boat head in a pilot wood carving project, organized by
the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival. 

image    image
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team at Lotus Sports Club Bill Alley
Memorial Dragonboat regatta 2006.  Dave Samis is front – 3rd from
left – photo Deb Martin

He later helped the team make it to the medal round at the inaugural
Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Races at Harrison Lake, win medals at the
Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race.

Dave Samis has even steered the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat in the Vancouver St. Patrick's Day Parade for Celtic Fest

Dave has now joined a dragon boat team organized by Fraser Valley
dragon boat paddlers that is heading to the Australian National dragon
boat races.  The team was the idea of Paul Boileau of Langley to
create a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to paddle in Sydney, Australia.

Here is the first of his travelogue reports.

Canadians in Australian

First News

In the driving rain last Saturday, the
Canadian contingent in the Australian Nationals, went for our last Practice in

On the way to the dock in Ft Langley I drove
past fields that were flooded with only the top 2 or 3 inches of fence post
sticking out of the water.

Fraser River
channel we practice on was swollen from all the extra water and you could see
the swirling currents caused by it.

When we went to open the gate to the dock,
we found that the gate had been ripped off it’s hinges.  A quick look at
the dock and we could see that our boat, a BuK dragon boat was missing.  It
appeared that someone had broken the gate and stolen the dragon boat.  We
checked to make sure that no one had moved it.  Nope. 

We all piled into the other dragon boat,
a larger 6-16, which took all 24 of us and we headed down the channel to the
Fraser River
– I steered.

Checking the shores for our boat we went
quite a ways before we gave up and turned around.  We changed steerspeople and I
paddled on the way back up the channel (see picture – that’s me
with black hat left rear of the boat).  As we passed a neighbouring dock a man
waved us over.  Our BuK had been found by the RCMP.  We decided that it was too
far to go and pick it up with the boat we were in so one person left in his car
to check it out.

The boat was in Kanaka Creek (if you know
your history you may know that Kanakas were what Hawaiians were called when
some came her 100+ years ago).  The guy checking threw a chain and lock on it
so he could return in the morning to pick it up.

Next morning, a group headed out in the
6-16 to get the BuK.  When they got to Kanaka Creek they found ½ a boat.  Yes, ½
a dragon boat still chained in place.  A close examination of the break found
that it had been sawn in two.  Nice neat across the boat.  The ½ boat was
brought back see picture.


Who would do this – vandals?  No,
too neat a cut.  Either someone who will add a transom and make a little boat
of their own or a someone who hated the dragon boat tied on that wharf.  Pretty
weird, huh.  RCMP are investigating.

Canada represented

Two teams from the Lower Mainland and
Fraser Valley
will be the Canadian Representatives in the Australian National Dragon Boat
Championship Races in April.  A mixed team and a Woman’s Masters dragon
boat team.


Gung Haggis Fat Choy Steers/Paddler and
Travelling Correspondent

With Canadian Team competing in Australian

Harper and Conservatives say “No Apology” for First Nations residential schools.

Harper and Conservatives say “No Apology” for First Nations residential schools

The New Government of Canada is breaking a promise that
was made to First Nations peoples by the former Liberal government of
Canada.  Gee…. I would hate to say that the Canadian government
speaks with a forked tongue, or that the Canadian government is an
indian giver.”  But aside from falling into ironic derogatory stereotypes, I
think it's a mistake if Harper and the Conservatives must really think
that it isn't worth wooing First Nations votes for the next election,
at the cost of losing votes from all Canadians who actually believe in
truth, honour and good government.

After giving an apology for the racially motivated Chinese Head Tax
that was designed to deter Chinese immigrants from coming to Canada
after Chinese helped to build the Canadian transcontinental railway
that helped to bring European settlers to BC, thus displacing Chinese
workers already in BC – but not apologizing for the even worse Chinese Exclusion Act
that banned Chinese immigration and separated families from 1923 to
1947, Harper and the Conservative government agreed to give ex-gratia
payments to surviving head tax payers and spouses – but not
descendants, even though 99.9% of the original head tax payers and
99.7% of the original spouses had already died.

After handing Maher Arar over to the US government who gave him to the Syrian government to be tortured, and after the resignation of the top RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli,
the government gave Arar an apology and a $12 million settlement
because they said that's the appropriate amount if the case went to

Even 19 years after the Mulroney Conservative government gave an
apology and redress to the Japanese Canadians who were interned and had
their property confiscated during WW2… only after the US government
first compensated Japanese-Americans were only interned (no property confiscation) – and allowed
to return to their homes following the war (Japanese Canadians were not).

Why is the Canadian government refusing to give an apology and compensation to First Nations residential school survivors?

The residential schools forcibly broke up families, and refused to
allow them to speak their native language to each other.  Twenty
years ago, I listened to Chief Joe Matias of the Capilano Band speak
about being sent to residential school, and not be allowed to go home
at any time – even though home was just down the street.  They
used to speak to family members by yelling from windows, and then they
would be punished for doing that.  The residential schools
destroyed First Nations culture and families, in a manner similar to
the Potlatch Act which forbade First Nations peoples from attending
potlatch ceremonies in BC – a cultural and social institution. 
These laws paved the way to forced assimilation into Canadian culture,
or was it actually the road to cultural genocide? 

This is why so many First Nations peoples developed a negative
self-identity in the early to mid 20th Century, similar to Asian-Canadians.  If
you practiced non-British cultures in Canada, it was
non-Canadian.  Okay, in a British colony, maybe practicing German,
Ukrainian, Jewish, French or Italian traditions wasn't cool.  But
it was looked upon as worse if your culture was South Asian, Chinese or
Japanese.  But isn't it even far more cruel to impose rules on a
culture that lived here for a hundred generations before British
invaders even arrived in a land yet to be called Canada?

These are the kinds of incidents that make you embarrassed to be a
Canadian… especially with the 140th Anniversary of Confederation to
be celebrated in 2007.  It's bad enough that PQ leader André Boisclair
was still making “slanting eyes” comments during the Quebec provincial
election.  I guess he isn't a “real Canadian” who believes in
mutual respect, Canadian history, multiculturalism and inclusiveness.

There are many articles and editorials from mainstream newspapers and
magazines calling on the government to make an apology and more. 
Here are links to some of them, plus an editorial from the Toronto Star. No residential school apology, Tories say – Canada – National | No residential schools apology

Toronto Star
March 28, 2007

This country and its governments wronged early Chinese immigrants
with an odious head tax, for which the government of Prime Minister
Stephen Harper has now apologized and paid compensation.

This country and its government wronged Canadian citizen Maher Arar by aiding the U.S. government, which sent him to Syria to be imprisoned and tortured. For that, the Harper government apologized and paid compensation.

This country and its government also wronged native Canadians for
more than two decades, starting in 1874, when it forcibly removed
native children from their homes and placed them in residential
schools, where they were not allowed to speak their own language and
where many of them suffered sexual and physical abuse.

While the Harper government is ready to pay compensation, it won't
apologize on behalf of Canadians. Indeed, Indian Affairs Minister Jim
Prentice said this week the government has nothing to apologize for.

In adopting this position, Harper and Prentice have broken a
commitment made in 2005 by the previous Liberal government to apologize
to the victims.

Honouring such moral commitments ought to be just as important after
a change in government as the obligation is to honour previous
government's accumulated debt.

More fundamental, however, is the glaring flaw in Prentice's argument for why no apology is necessary.

Because “the underlying objective (of residential schools) had been
to try and provide an education to aboriginal children,” Prentice
claims, “the circumstances are completely different from Maher Arar or
also from the Chinese head tax.”

That is like saying the ends justify the means, an unpersuasive
argument when the means involved tearing apart native families, as well
as widespread abuse.

The Harper government should apologize for this stain on Canada's
history which, in the pain and suffering it created, is every bit as
shameful as the treatment of the Chinese migrants and Maher Arar.

Joseph Wu, origami expert extraordinaire! on page 1 Vancouver Sun

Joseph Wu, origami expert extraordinaire! 
on page 1 Vancouver Sun

Joseph Wu's childhood interest in origami led to a successful career as an artist. Complex figures like his dragon, shown here with Joel Cooper's mask and Eric Joisel's figure, can take 20 hours or more to fold.

It was a wonderful surprise to see
Joseph Wu's smiling face on today's (Thursday, March 28, 2007) front page.  Joseph is an amazing origami folder.  He actually quit his full-time job a few years ago, as he was able to make a living from his creative original paper folded creations.

Joseph has folded the original creations for Stolichnaya vodka ads such as the swan, eagle, butterfly and more.  You can view them in the “Illustration” category of his website.

I first met Joseph many many years ago, through our mutual friend and origami afficianado Yukiko Tosa. Yukiko introduced me to PALM (Paperfolders of the Lower Mainland) which they both belong to. 

Joseph is not only an amazing and creative folder, but also a really really nice guy.  Everybody loves Joseph.  His enthusiasm for the created works is infectious.  A few years ago, he gave a demonstration and information session at the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch, when a visiting origami master had travelled from Japan.  Joseph demonstrated the large origami dinosaurs that required a “wet paper” technique.

I love origami.  I started folding when I was a child and I was able to quickly master designs from Kunihkio Kasahara's “Creative Origami, and Isao Honda's “The World of Origami.”  There are 16 books of origami on my book shelf + booklets.  Some of my favorite books are Peter Engel's “Folding Universe: Origami from Angelfish to Zen”, and “Origami for the Connoisseur” by Kunihiko Kasahara and Toshie Takahama.  If I go away on a vacation where I know I will be relaxing indoors… I usually take origami paper and books with me… and sometimes my accordion.  But somehow, origami paper just seems to travel so much easier than my accordion.  It's amazing what happens when you are sitting in an airplain, fold a flower, a star, a dragon or a unicorn… then give it away as a gift to the person sitting next to you, or the little girl watching you in amazement.  Origami makes friends instantly, wherever you are.

Joseph and I have talked about creating an origami “bagpiper” or “accordion player” to raffle off at a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner – but we've never gotten around to it yet.  Hmmm… maybe next year?

Check out the Vancouver Sun article Fame found by folding paper written by Michael Scott.

Kadoya Sushi on Davie St. Try the specialty rolls

Kadoya Sushi on Davie St.  Try the specialty rolls

I went to Kadoya for the first time on Friday night, March 23… and I LIKED it!

On the walls are many compliments to the restaurant, staff and the food.  It is entertaining just reading all of the different place mat sized drawings and compliments.  There is even a sign up on both sides of the restaurant stating if you are allergic to something, please tell the serving staff.

The specialty sushi rolls are REALLY SPECIAL.  They are truly creations of culinary art. They are named Rainbow (each piece a different colour), Cinderalla, Snow White, Queenie, Princess, Canuck.  They are large, eight pieces and cost $7.95.  They almost fill you if you are going for dinner.

My girlfriend and I shared the Dinner for Two which included 1 Specialty Roll, Miso Soup, vegetable and prawn tempura, terriyaki beef (or chicken), + special rice.  It was a lot of food for $30, and we felt it was a good deal.

The service seemed friendly.  Our party of 5 included 1 Japanese student, 2 Caucasian-Canadians, 1 Swiss born Canadian, and myself a multi-generational Chinese-Canadian.  We thought our waitress had a mandarin Chinese accent.  Our Swiss-Canadian friend goes to the restaurant regularly with his Japanese friend.  It was the first for the rest of us.  We all definitely enjoyed ourselves, and plan on returning.

Did the “slanted eyes” comment defeat Boisclair in Quebec election or was it because of other judgments and gaffes?

Did the “slanted eyes” comment defeat Boisclair in Quebec election or was it because of other judgments and gaffes?

Andre Boisclair has led the Parti Quebecois to one of it's most stunning defeats.  Boisclair recently won the anger of Asian-Quebeccers for refusing to apologize for “slanting eyes” comment aimed at Asians.

Did it make a difference in exposing the poor judgements of a man who wanted to become the next separatist leader of Quebec?  Did it demonstrate the problems of misunderstanding multiculturalism when the man wanted to create a sovereigntist monoculture?

Prior to the election, a coalition of Asian Canadians in Quebec sent out the following letter on Saturday afternoon, March 24, 2007, in both English and French.  The strategy was to focus on the voices
of Asian Quebecers. The signatories were those who responded before today's media release.

It's a well written letter and exposes the problem that there are leaders in Canada who still stereotype and generalize all Asians because they look the same re: “slanting eyes.”  It is a pity that many Candians cannot recognize or do not know the long and valid multigenerational history of Asian-Canadians in Canada.


March 21, 2007

The undersigned deeply regrets that Mr. André Boisclair used derogatory and deplorable references to describe persons of Asian and Indian origin during a speech to students at the Université du Québec in Trois-RIvières.

Our objection concerns not only his use of the French expression “yeux bridés” to describe Asians in general.  This common expression in the French language dating from the 19th century, during a period of expanding colonization of Asia by European countries, is essentially a western invention to label peoples of the Orient.  It may appear to be acceptable for persons who do not care, including Asians.

However, Asians do not form a homogeneous group:  the reactions vary according to their respective history, social experiences and national  cultures.  In North America, the simplistic expression “yeux bridés” has been largely rejected by many Asians because of its derogatory and condescending meaning, in whatever possible language.

We find the comments of Mr. Boisclair, a former minister of immigration and who is looking to become the Premier of Quebec, unacceptable since they reinforce stereotypes when he says he was surprised to see that one-third of the students in Boston in an undergraduate program had “les yeux  bridés”.

Firstly, why the surprise?  If he admires the spirit of entrepreneurship and the other qualities of these persons, why be surprised that there are so many Asians at Harvard where he spent one year.  Also, was he talking about Americans of Asian origin or foreign students from Asia?  If he is unable to make this distinction, it speaks volumes about his awareness.

Lastly, his reaction after protests about his use of these terms  surprises us since it is inappropriate and disrespectful towards a group in society who felt directly insulted by his words.    Mr. Boisclair should have shown a sensitivity and maturity by withdrawing those comments and the matter would have been closed.  Having been personally targeted by some people’s unacceptable remarks about him, Mr. Boisclair should readily understand
that words can be harmful, whatever the intention of the person saying them.

In refusing to apologize for the use of this expression in a statement that is just as insensitive towards Asians around the world, Mr. Boisclair has lost a golden opportunity to show his openness of spirit and sensitivity towards these persons.  It is this obstinate refusal which unfortunately leaves a poor impression in the minds of many.  

Mr. Boisclair still has time to show a greater spirit  We would be prepared to publicly  welcome him only if he makes this magnanimous gesture of a retraction of the expression as well as his reference to being “surprised”, and which would be a confirmation of his undertaking for a Quebec free from bias.

And we offer him our hand in friendship and honour for a better understanding and mutual acceptance – in all languages of humanity. 

Alan Wong, co- président- Gais et Lesbiennes Asiatiques de Montréal
Howard Tan,  président- Fédération de Professionnels Chinois Canadiens-Québec
Martin Liu, président- Association des Jeunes Professionnels Chinois
Savan Thach, président- Association Cambodgien Khmere Kampuchea-krom du Québec 
James de la Paz, président- Fédération des Associations Canada- Philippines du Québec
Evelyn Caluguay- présidente- Association des Femmes Philippines du Québec-Pinay
Jocelyn Toy, président- Association Chinoise de la Ville de Québec
Napoleon Woo, Société de Bienfaisance Chinoise de la Ville de Québec
Jeanne To-Thanh-Hien, Communauté Vietnamienne Gatineau-Ottawa
Walter Chi-yan Tom, avocat
Dr. Alice Chan-Yip, médecin pédiatre
Virginia Lam, avocate
Lily Luangphakdy, avocate
Millie Lum, pharmacienne

Raymond Liew, enseignant collegial
Lynette Lim, comptable agrée
Raymond Tsim, agent en immobilier
Esme Lo, femme d’affaire
Wah-Keung Chan, éditeur & rédacteur
Ting-Ming Chen, ingénieur
Warren Lee, planificateur financier
Wallie Seto, éditeur & rédacteur
Tess Augustin, femme d’affaire
Sylvia Ho, analyste en marketing
Douglas Yip, avocat
Delia So
Zhimin Hu

Walter Chi-Yan TOM, L.L.B. lawyer/avocat
5898 Clanranald, Montreal, Quebec Province, Canada, H3X 2T1
Telephone : 514- 341-3929  Fax : 514- 733-6670

Vancouver Sun: Where Harper Falls Short – article about failed promises

Vancouver Sun: Where Harper Falls Short – article about failed promises

Octogenarian Gim Wong thinks that Prime Minister Harper should give cheques to the families of
each of the more than
80,000 Chinese head tax certificates… even if their original head tax
payers and spouses died before the Conservative promise was made. –
photo Todd Wong

The Vancouver Sun published a story on Saturday, March 24th titled Where Harper Falls Short.

O'Neil's article is aimed primarily at how the Harper governent has not
addressed the party's election promises.  In particular, the
article also focusses on the ethnic issues of Chinese head tax, First
Nations fisheries and Air India inquiry, as well as leaky condos and
BC's under-representation in Parliament.

Octogenarian WW2 veteran Gim Wong is quoted as saying that
the “Harper government's apology and redress package involving
$20,000 cheques which went to surviving head tax
payers or their surviving widows of payers, was a 'huge'

“But that's just the first step,” he said, stressing that $20,000
cheques should go to the families of each of the more than 80,000
Chinese immigrants who paid the charge imposed between 1885 and 1923.

should know.  Gim has been a staunch advocate for head tax apology
and repayment, and was there to witness his friend Charlie Quon receive
the very first head tax ex-gratia payment from Canadian Heritage
Minister Bev Oda.  But Gim will not receive a payment for his
father's head tax certificate, because both his parent's are
predeceased, even though Gim had to live through the enduring hardship
while his father worked hard to repay money borrowed to pay the $500
head tax, prior to 1923.

Sid Tan who accompanied Gim on his first
motorcycle “Ride for Redress” to Craiglelachie, BC, site of  “the
last spike.” has written the following letter to the Vancouver Sun,
stating that Harper's promise to reconcile the head tax issue is still

Where Harper Falls Short.

Re: Where Harper Falls Short
      Peter O'Neil, March 24, 2007
Dear Editor.
It is incorrect and misleading to state Prime Minister Stephen
Harper fulfilled the promise: “Apologize and provide financial redress
for victims of racist Canadian laws aimed at Chinese immigrants.”
What the Conservative government did was apologize and provide
financial redress to 0.6 of one percent of over 82,000 head tax
families. That would be ex gratia payments of $20,000 to approximately
500 surviving head tax payers and spouses of deceased head tax payers.
Sons and daughters, many of them now elderly, of deceased head tax
payers were also victims of government legislation (1885-1947) to
financially punish and separate Chinese families. Many of them excluded
by the government's unilaterally imposed so-called settlement continue
to seek justice and honour for pioneer families.
The PM's advisers have shown great political acumen and finesse in
this matter by garnering photo-ops and pandering for votes. While not
exactly promise broken, their appalling message to the excluded
families is, “We were wrong. We are sorry. We will keep the money. Too
bad your father and mother didn't live long enough. Take it or leave
Of course some head tax families will take it. But not the over
four thousand and growing represented by our Society, the Chinese
Canadian National Council and redress seeking groups from coast to
coast to coast. We say it ain't over until we say it's over. We say it
ain't over.
Now with rights and the vote, these head tax families have built a
movement to outlast the Harper government and those following should a
just and honourable redress not be forthcoming. We are seeking what any
Canadian would want – refund of an unjust tax.   
Simply put, the redress is incomplete. The government must
recognize all head tax families are equal and begin good faith
negotiations with their representatives. 
Yours sincerely,
Sid Chow Tan. co-chairperson
Head Tax Families Society

Here is the Vancouver Sun article below:

Where Harper Falls Short

Unfilled election campaign commitments aimed at B.C.:
Boosting parliamentary representation, ending racially divided fisheries, leaky
condo probe


Peter O'Neil

Vancouver Su

Saturday, March 24, 2007

spirits of British Columbians Leslie Budden, Carmen Maretic, Perviz Madon and Gim Wong rose in 2006 when
a newly-elected Conservative government took power armed with an unusually
robust series of B.C.-focused campaign commitments.

four British Columbians had long advocated for action on issues that might have
best been directed to the Apostle Jude, Christianity's patron saint of lost
causes: B.C.'s $1.5 billion leaky condo crisis; the Chinese head tax redress
issue; the quest for truth if not justice in the 1985 Air India terror
bombings; the so-called “race-based” rights controversy in fishing

were files that had languished for years if not decades.

as Prime Minister Stephen Harper prepares for a possible spring election, he is
facing a reckoning over the dramatic pledges that surprised many political
observers when they were delivered on a sleepy Saturday morning in
Victoria during the 2006

anxious to secure a B.C. political breakthrough he felt crucial to winning
government, took a calculated gamble that not only copied a successful B.C.
Liberal strategy from the 2004 election campaign — but drastically increased
the stakes.

the Liberals scored political points with a platform-style “Made in
B.C.” campaign in the 2004 election, Paul Martin's promises for the West
were for the most part dominated by political platitudes.

with policy ideas from close to two dozen MPs who had spent years cooling their
heels in opposition, Harper produced an almost breathtaking “Stand Up For B.C.” platform with far more dramatic pledges than
Liberals or New Democrats pondered.

Quebec , which
unlike B.C. rewarded Harper with more seats rather than fewer, warranted its
own region-specific agenda.

moved quickly on many, striking an Air India judicial inquiry, cancelling the
controversial Liberal privatization of a strategic port facility in
Prince Rupert , and
providing an apology and compensation to surviving head taxpayers or the widows
of those victimized by the racist tariff put on Chinese immigrants before 1923.

Harper has thus far fallen short on some of the more daring commitments,
including the pledge to boost B.C.'s representation in Parliament, his
post-election vow to end the policy of “racially-divided” fisheries,
and his promise to hold an inquiry into possible federal culpability in the
leaky condo crisis.

Maretic, an advocate for leaky condo
owners, has prepared a tough letter after shedding tears here last month while
meeting with Human Resources Minister Monte Solberg, who is responsible for the
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

was frustrated that the Tory government, despite promising an inquiry, followed
the position of previous Liberal governments by saying it could say or do
nothing that might imply culpability. The government is facing several lawsuits
in B.C. courts.

are aware of the toll this has taken particularly on our most vulnerable
citizens — single parents, young families, low income earners, disabled people
and seniors,” she wrote in a letter provided to The Vancouver Sun.

outstanding question is whether your government will call the promised review
or state frankly that it has no intention to do so before an election is

Budden, 41, also fights back tears as she
voices frustration over the Harper government's refusal to shift gears from the
approach taken by successive governments since 1992 allowing separate,
native-only commercial fishing openings.

member of the Steveston fishing community, she has
struggled to make a living in the industry with her fisherman husband Glenn.

the issue goes deeper. Both her parents were Japanese-Canadians interned during
the Second World War. Her grandfather, Rintaro
Hayashi, was a Japanese-Canadian fisherman who fought against federal laws in
the mid-1920s that sought to reduce the number of “oriental”

law allowed only whites and aboriginal Canadians to use motorboats.

Conservative party was committed during the 2004 election to “equality of
all Canadians” in the commercial fisheries. While nothing was promised by
Harper in the 2006 campaign, he sent a letter to a
Calgary newspaper after the election
declaring that his government would oppose the “racially divided”
West Coast fishery.

that statement came out I was ecstatic, I thought it meant they were actually
going to hold true to their word,” Budden
recalled this week.

sent a letter saying how much it meant to us as a family. We thought they were
going to be different.

course, it hasn't turned out that way.”

Tory government, despite public statements saying Harper meant what he said,
has gone on to initial several treaties entrenching exclusive aboriginal
fishing rights. Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice has since defended the
government's policy as consistent with the Harper declaration, although Budden isn't buying it.

said her late grandfather is probably “rolling in his grave” at the
government's position.

just really believe in my heart that we've failed him, failed what he fought
for and stood for.”

the Tory government has fulfilled many of the commitments, by striking an Air
India Inquiry and compensating Chinese head taxpayers, other unfulfilled
commitments hang like a heavy cloud over the government as it contemplates a
possible spring election.

include the pledge to end B.C.'s under-representation in Parliament, the
promise to strike a judicial inquiries into the
Fraser River
fishery, and the commitment to probe possible federal culpability in B.C.'s
$1.5-billion leaky condo crisis.

Madon, whose husband died in the Air India bombing,
and Wong, whose parents paid the head tax, advocated less complex and divisive
issues that made it higher up on the Tory priority list.

Madon said she appreciates the launching
of the judicial inquiry, although she said family members deserve at least as
much credit as politicians for pushing the matter.

84, is more effusive, saying that Harper and his lead MP on the redress issue,
Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, showed far more respect for the
community than their predecessors. Wong should know. In 2005 he put on his old
air force uniform from the Second World War and rode his Honda Goldwing motorcycle from Victoria
to Ottawa to
push the redress case.

he couldn't get closer than a few metres from
then-prime minister Paul Martin before being “pounced” on by RCMP

said Thursday the Harper government's apology and redress package involving
$20,000 cheques which went to surviving head tax
payers or their surviving widows of payers, was a “huge”

that's just the first step,” he said, stressing that $20,000 cheques should go to the families of each of the more than
80,000 Chinese immigrants who paid the charge imposed between 1885 and 1923.

four issues were far from the only ones sure to be brought back under the
spotlight if the minority government falls and an election is triggered.



Appoint an independent judicial inquiry into the Air India bombing of June 23,

Freeze the sale of the Ridley Island Coal Terminal in
Prince Rupert .

Apologize and provide financial redress for victims of racist Canadian laws
aimed at Chinese immigrants.

Only surviving headtax payers and spouses were offereded ex-gratia
payments, meaning only 0.05% of 81,000 head tax certificates were being
honoured.  The sons, daughters and grandchildren of pre-deceased
head tax payers are being purposefully ignored and excluded. – Todd
Wong )

Offer financial help to Victoria
to stop dumping raw sewage into the Juan de Fuca Strait.

“Protect” B.C.'s softwood lumber industry, a commitment which led to
a controversial settlement of the longstanding trade dispute with the

Invest $100 million a year for 10 years in the fight against the pine beetle
epidemic in B.C. forests. (That money was committed in the 2006 budget, though
Harper acknowledged Wednesday that the money has been slow in getting to B.C.

Deliver at least the five-year federal funding commitment of $591 million for
the Pacific Gateway Initiative. The government has committed $1 billion over
eight years.


Initiate an independent judicial inquiry into the collapse of the sockeye
salmon stocks on the Fraser
River .

Establish a regular army presence in B.C.

Review CMHC's handling of construction regulations
and leaky condos. Harper said during the campaign that he'd consider
compensation if the review proved federal responsibility for the widespread
moisture damage caused by flawed construction. Tory MP John Cummins, who helped
convince Harper to include the promise, has uncovered internal documents
suggesting the condo crisis was caused by federal National Building Code
regulations of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Give British Columbia
additional seats to achieve fair representation in the House of Commons and
give the province “more equitable representation in the Senate.”

hasn't taken any steps to accelerate the next redistribution of seats in the House,
which is expected in 2014, and has actually opposed a bid by two senators to
pass a motion calling for more Senate seats for Western
Canada .

Require mandatory prison sentences for convicted operators of marijuana growing
operations and crystal meth labs. (The government has
delayed the legislation due to resistance from opposition parties, but has
promised a bill on the matter this spring.)

© The
Vancouver Sun 2007

Jen Sookfong Lee's new novel “The End of East” is profiled in Vancouver Sun, G&M + More

Jen Sookfong Lee's new novel “The End of East” is profiled in Vancouver Sun, G&M + More

Jen Sookfong Lee
is celebrating the book launch of her novel The End of East, today at
2pm at the Salt Tasting Room in Blood Alley, located in Vancouver's
Gastown.  Her novel tells the story of the early Chinese pioneers
to Vancouver during the time of head tax (895-1923) and the 1923
exclusion act.  She also parallels a contemporary story of present
day Samantha Chan who tries to run away from Vancouver to Montreal to
escape her “Chinese-ness” but ends up returning when she discovers her
grandfather's head tax certificate.

This is all very timely with the Chinese
Head Tax redress movement kicking into higher gear, asking Prime
Minister Stephen Harper to recognize and honour all head tax
certificates before any more survivors and spouses die off, such as the
recent deaths of Mr. Ralph Lee and Mrs. Der.   Will “End of
East” contribute to a greater understanding of the head tax issue in a
similar manner that Joy Kogawa's “Obasan” helped to spread better
knowledge of the hardships undergone by the internment of the Japanese
Canadian community, leading to their 1988 redress?

Time will tell….  But for now,
good reviews are coming for Jen Sookfong Lee.  The Vancouver Sun
profiled her in Saturday's March 24th Arts & Review.  The
Globe and Mail's Joe Weibe profiled her in Friday's March 23rd
edition.  I especially liked George Fetherling's March 17th Globe
& Mail's review of “The End of East.”

See below for links.

March 23, 2007
“The End of East is just her start”
Jen Sookfong Lee profiled in 7 section of The Globe and Mail

March 22, 2007
“End of East chronicles immigrants' gamble”
The End of East reviewed in The Georgia Straight

March 22, 2007
“Vivid Vancouver”
The End of East reviewed in NOW Magazine

March 17, 2007
“Uprooted from Vancouver”
The End of East reviewed in The Globe and Mail

March 10, 2007
to the archived conversation of SPiN talking with Sheryl
MacKay on North by Northwest at CBC Radio One's archive,