Just got back from Victoria from the BC Community Achievement Awards Ceremonies. Wow…
Todd Wong receives BC Community Achievement Award from Premier Gordon Campbell at Government House – photo Betty Wong
BC Community Achievement Awards 2008
From the April 23 news release
our province who enrich the lives of others, give freely of their time
and energy, and who embody the spirit of and passion of our
communities,” said Premier Campbell. “Through their actions, they
demonstrate the power of one person to make a positive impact on an
entire community, and an entire province. It is an honour to recognize
their achievements and celebrate their contributions towards making
British Columbia the best place on Earth.”
“This year's recipients demonstrate that British Columbians are
making a difference in every area of our province,” said foundation
chair Keith Mitchell. “Whether they live in smaller communities such as
New Hazelton and Tofino or the major centres like Victoria, Cranbrook
and the Lower Mainland, they have found ways making each of their
communities a better place to live.”
Please arrive by 1:15pm were the instructions to award recipients. All
45 recipients were gathered in a room at Government House, where we
were explained the protocol of the event. What order, Where to stand on
stage, how to address the Premier and the Lt. Gov. Then Lt. Gov.
Stephen Point and Premier Gordon Campbell came into the room and shook
hands with each person. We had been instructed to say “Hello you
Honour, Premier,” and state our name and where we were from.
Next we were to be piped in to the ball room by the Lt. Gov. personal bagpiper, Pipe Major John Major. As soon as the bagpipe music started, somebody pointed at me and my kilt. I smiled and feigned covering my ears. Back at the end of the line in the hallway, I could hear the sound of the audience clapping to the beat of the music.
Walking into the Government House ballroom was special. An audience of 200 were clapping and full of smiles. There were TV cameras filming us as we walked in. My mother was standing beside them with her new point and shoot digital camera. My girlfriend Deb waved enthusiastically to me, as I walked up the centre aisle to find my seat.
ceremony began with inspiring speeches from Kyle Mitchell, Chair of the
BC Achievement Foundation and Gordon Campbell, Premier of BC.
45 recipients were each named, and a very nice bio for each person highlighting their achievements was read by Keith Mitchell.
I listened to 44 remarkable bios, amazing in scope, but similar in dedication and commitment. From creating programs for seniors, or suicide prevention to civic duty, fundraising, artistic creations and leadership. You cannot help but be humbled by the achievements of these award recipients.
Then… my name was called. I was last on the list. And a bio was read about me. It seemed amazing that they could find so many positive things to say about me, and I could only nod in acknowledgment. I smiled at the audience, knowing everybody was watching me, as I had watched others on stage. And it is humbling to simply accept the process, and not try to deflect any of the praise, but simply accept and to acknowledge that you are this person they are speaking about. These are your achievements.
The speaker began be describing my contributions for promoting Asian-Canadian arts and literature. Next he described Gung Haggis Fat Choy, and people laughed in good humour. And when they described the campaign to save historic Joy Kogawa House, heads nodded and faces smiled.
Official picture: Lt. Gov. Stephen L. Point, Todd Wong, Premier Gordon Campbell.
service, building bridges and cross-cultural understanding. A fifth
generation Canadian, Todd is an avid promoter of Asian Canadian arts
and literature and was one of the founders and leaders of the
successful campaign to save the Joy Kogawa House. Todd created the
annual celebration known as Gung Haggis Fat Choy which honours Chinese
New Year and Robbie Burns Day. Todd has also contributed to the dragon
boat community as a race organizer and coach and he has spoken at Terry
Fox Runs since 1993. Wong exemplifies the impact one individual can
have to inspire others to be creative, build bridges and span cultures.
As I approached Premier Gordon Campbell, to receive my medallion, beautifully designed by Robert Davidson, he greeted me and said “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.” I chuckled and smiled back at him, “Gung Haggis Fat Choy… you will have to come next time.”
Then I shook hands with Lt. Gov. Stephen Point, he said “Congratulations,” and handed me a certificate. I stood between these two men, and we looked at the official photographer in front of the stage. My girlfriend Deb was right beside taking a few photographs, beaming proudly.
My parents stood beside my friend David Kogawa who had nominated me for the award. And new friends author Gary Geddes and his wife Anne joined them.
The ceremony concluded with a speech by Lt. Gov. Point, in which he praised the achievements of the collective recipients.
So many people came up to me afterwards saying they had heard me on radio, or seen me on television, or had always wanted to come. I may have even talked the Mayor of Kamloops into organizing a Kamloops Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner now. I know that I am one of the lucky ones that receives the media attention for my events and community service, but every single person's story was heart touching, and truly an example of the unsung heroics of community service. There were no rock stars, jazz divas, industry magnates or basketball stars attending like at the Order of BC awards. Everybody there was simply a hard working citizen, committed to their community. And it is so nice that they can each be recognized.
It's a wonderful feeling to know that your creations and contributions in the world have reached so many people in a positive way, directly or in many of these cases… indirectly. And to think I almost died from cancer back in 1989. I would have missed this party!
Pictures to follow as soon as Deb loads them up…. stay tuned!
of BC's most dedicated citizens stand with Premier Gordon Campbell and
Lt. Gov. Stephen Point, and BC Achievement Foundation Chair Keith
Mitchell, following the ceremonies. I can be spotted wearing my cream
jacket directly behind Premier Campbell. I am standing between my
Vancouver arts community friends Naomi Singer on my left, and Savannah
Walling on my right,Terry Hunter is immediately behind Savannah. Also on my left is fellow kilt wearer Gordon Barrett in his Irish Pipes and Drums uniform – too bad you can't see our kilts.