Roy Mah's address for the 2002 ACWW Community Buiilder's Award
from Sid Tan. Sid was on the ACWW organizing committee with me,
when we helped to create the inaugural ACWW Community Builder's Dinner
in September 2002. Sid filmed the event for his community
television program “Saltwater City.”
community leader, often wondering how redress would be if we could have worked
together. He was a kind, courteous and gentle man.
He once jokingly introduced me as
“the notorious Sid Tan” to a friend. I joked back, “Not as
notorious as you Roy, especially around all those Miss Chinatowns.” He
smiled and retorted without hesitation, “Occupational hazard. Comes with
Here's hoping you feel the following
speech by Roy Mah is worth printing. Roy Mah delivered this speech on September
29, 2002 upon receiving the inaugural Community Builder Award from the Asian
Canadian Writers' Workshop.
Sid Chow Tan
Roy Quock Quon Mah, OBC, was born in
Edmonton , schooled
in Victoria and died June 22, 2007 in his 89th year. A WWII veteran, he was
among the first Chinese Canadian full-time labour organisers and publisher of
the Chinatown News (1953-1995), an influential English language magazine based
in Vancouver .
Following is his acceptance speech upon receiving the inaugural Community
Builder Award from the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop on September 29, 2002.
Thank you for presenting me with
this unique award. I feel greatly humbled and honoured in accepting it. To me,
the significance of this award is that it is being presented by the Asian
Canadian Writers' Workshop.
When the Chinatown News was founded
a little more than four decades ago, there was no such fraternity as the Asian
Workshop around. Our community then
could best be described as a cultural desert. Yet less than a half century
later, that desert has been transformed into a blossoming colourful literary
garden with authours, novelists and poets popping up everywhere.
Even more gratifying, these writers
have been producing fantastic works in tribute to their skills and
storytelling. Many of their creative masterpieces have been receiving attention
and winning book prizes. This is terrific. At this rate of proliferation of
literati in our community, I predict before long, you will see the emergence of
many literary stars whose writings will qualify for book of the month club and
receiving prestigious awards. And why not?
Free from the racist barriers
imposed on earlier generations, today's Asian Canadian writers can compete with
anyone on a level playing field. In fact, this is already happening. In today's
pluralistic society, the sky's the limit in all areas of national life,
including the cultural realm for gifted individuals.
What a change from the time
Chinatown News had to implore the corporate world and crown corporations to
remove the glass ceiling from job opportunities for ethnic minorities. One of
our pet editorial themes in those days was to needle the mainstream media to
hire more Chinese Canadian journalists for their staff. Now the profusion of
Asian Canadian anchorpersons and reporters in both electronic media and print
is a certainly a source of pride and satisfaction to all of us.
Could it be in the not too distant
future, the Asian Canadian writer's brigade will decide to drop the designation
and just look upon themselves as professional writers like those now working in
the mainstream media?