Monthly Archives: May 2008

Freedom Writers teacher Erin Grewell speaks in Vancouver area at River Rock Casino

Hillary Swank played Erin Gruwell in the movie version titled Freedom Writers.  Gruwell comes to Metro Vancouver to speak to students and teachers.

A naive and idealistic brand new teacher
in Room 203 at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, was given her first class.  The students were not interested in giving the teacher any respect, and they comprised a volatile racially-diverse mix of African-American, Latino,
Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Caucasian students, many of whom had grown
up in rough neighborhoods in Long Beach.

But the teacher, Erin Gruwell found ways to reach them, and their class project became a book, that became a movie.  The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them even sparked interest from Oprah and Barbara Walters.

I watched the movie a few weeks ago, and was amazed at the movie.  The students grow up surrounded by violence, and with gang mentality.  They are always on the verge of racial wars with each different ethnic group.  The African-Americans feel intruded upon by the new arrivals such as the Cambodian or Vietnamese students.  And the Latinos are also claiming and protecting their turf too.

This could be Vancouver, a city celebrated for its racial and ethnic diversity and harmony.  This could be Vancouver where in January 2008, a 15 year old Filipino student was stabbed to death. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2008/01/28/bc-daisy.html

Racism has also been a factor in other teenage deaths and incidents such as the Reena Virk murder in Victoria BC. 

But Freedom Writers is a wonderful positive story of triumph over personal adversity.  The students learn that they have more in common than they realized.  They learn that each ethnic group shares the same fears, hopes and struggles.  She assigns them the book, Diary of Anne Frank to read.  And the students relate to the young Anne, who has to hide from Nazi oppression.

It is a story that could happen in Vancouver.  Erin Gruwell gives a talk at River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond BC.  She was invited by King David high school executive director Dan Shmilovitch after he saw the film last February.  

Read the Vancouver Sun story by Chantal Eustace
From written off to Freedom Writers
http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=eabf2ac1-53a4-4020-b42a-3d7fc2d01c96&p=2

“Tailor Made” wins Golden Rell Award for Best Short Film

“Tailor Made: Chinatown's Last Tailors” wins prestigious Golden Reel Award for Best Short Film at the 2008 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

My friend JJ Lee sent me this message.  JJ was one of the real life characters in the documentary “Tailor Made.”  He is “the apprentice.”  The main character is tailor Bill Wong, who is the father of my friend Steven Wong.  Steven paddles on our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  Our families have known each other for generations.

“Hi Todd. Just to let you know. Tailor Made just won Best Short Film at
the 2008 LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. It's pretty cool and just
wanted to let you know.” – JJ Lee.



VANCOUVER, BC: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Realize Entertainment is thrilled to announce that their documentary
“Tailor Made: Chinatown's Last Tailors” has won the prestigious  Golden
Reel Award for Best Short Film at the 2008 Los Angeles Asian Pacific
Film Festival.   The award, presented during the Festival's Closing
Night program in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo, is presented to artists
whose work exemplifies  artistic excellence and the potential for
future creative activity.
 
Directed by Calgary director Leonard Lee and Vancouver filmmaker Marsha
Newbery, “Tailor Made” follows 80-something brothers Bill & Jack
Wong for one year as they face the reality that they're getting too old
to run the little tailor shop their father opened in 1913…and letting
go isn't easy. With tailoring being a dying trade, finding someone to
take over the family business has proved impossible, but Bill refuses
to give up. From taking on a fashion journalist as an apprentice, to
selling the shop to a young hot-shot corporate tailor, Bill becomes
especially determined and pulls out all the stops.
 
“Tailor Made: Chinatown's Last Tailors” was commissioned for the CBC Newsworld strand, The Lens,
and premiered to a sold out audience at the 2007 Whistler Film
Festival.  It is also screening as a part of CBC Vancouver's
celebration of Asian Heritage Month on May 24th.  Please visit www.cbc.ca/asianheritage
for details and to book a seat.   Screenings are also being held by the
Vancouver Parks board all through May, please visit www.
vancouver.ca/parks for details.

TAILOR
MADE is presented by Realize Entertainment and produced in association
with CBC Newsworld.  TAILOR MADE was produced in association with
 Knowledge Network,  and with the participation of The Canadian
Television Fund: License Fee Program and Equity Investment Program, The
Rogers Documentary Fund, Canadian Film & Television Tax Credit,
British Columbia Film Incentive and developed with the participation of
CBC British Columbia, Telefilm, and British Columbia Film.


LET'S ELECT VANCOUVER'S 1ST DRAGON BOAT MAYOR – RAYMOND LOUIE

LET'S ELECT VANCOUVER'S 1ST DRAGON BOAT MAYOR


Raymond Louie demonstrates his reach as a flag grabber for the 1st ever Taiwanese Dragon Boat demonstration race.- photo courtesy of Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Society.


Vision
Vancouver Councillor Raymond Louie knows dragon boating. He knows it's
important to Vancouver's cultural, recreational, economic and
environmental communities.

Raymond paddled with the Vancouver Sun team during the 1990's. 
He also raced bicycles in the Tour de White Rock, and the Gastown Grand Prix.

In
2003, Raymond was Canada's first dragon boat flag catcher along with
Olympic gold medalist Lori Fung, when they participated in the first
demonstration race for the inaugural Vancouver International Taiwanese
Dragon Boat Race. 

Raymond also helped the Taiwanese Canadian
Cultural Society stickhandle through bureaucracy to ensure the boats
arrived on time for the Labour Day 2003 Taiwanese Cultural Festival during a Vancouver
Ports strike. 
These
special “flag catching” dragon boats were donated to the City of
Vancouver, by the Taiwanese Government and the people of Taiwan – which Raymond helped to facilitate.


“Motor-less Marina” are the words Raymond uses to
describe the recreational benefits for False Creek's East Bay – East of
the Cambie Street Bridge. He has also served as Co-Chair, Steering
Committee for the redevelopment of Southeast False Creek.

Raymond
is someone who can not only bring together voters from different
political parties, but he also offers leadership that brings support
from the multi-varied ethnic communities that define our city.

Photo Library - 2645

Raymond holds Tartan Day proclamation with Gung Haggis Fat Choy's dragon boat team's Michael Brophy and Todd Wong + bagpiper Joseph McDonald. As deputy mayor, Raymond read the Tartan Day that he helped move through Vancouver City Council. Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team then went out on the water for their April 6th “Tartan Day” dragon boat practice.  photo Todd Wong collection.

Raymond
offers a clear vision of a city where no one is left behind, and a
civic administration that is not only experienced, but also offers an
opportunity to unite neighbourhoods, ethnic communities, and supporters
from various political backgrounds in building a progressive and
sustainable city.

Raymond offers the experience and knowledge
with the City of Vancouver that he has demonstrated with his two terms
on City Council and as serving as a Director of Metro Vancouver(GVRD)
and TransLink.

It is an amazing opportunity to have the very real possibility to elect the first dragon boat Mayor of Vancouver.

Please register with Vision Vancouver so you can vote for Raymond Louie:
http://raymondlouie.ca/get-involved/join-vision-vancouver/

The deadline for signing up new Vision Vancouver members is Thursday, May 15.

There are two ways you can help get people to join Vision Vancouver and vote for Raymond:

1.
Volunteer to Pick Up Forms: Help pick up membership forms from other
supporters in the evenings, Sunday thru Wednesday. Please call
604-724-4307 to volunteer a couple of hours this week.

2.
Sign-up: Download a membership form by clicking here and return it to
Raymond’s campaign office at 1327 Laburnum St. by May 14, 10 PM. Call
604-724-4307 for more info on dropping off your forms.

Join Councilor Raymond Louie for Mayor (facebook group)
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=10860325854&ref=ts

Join Dragon Boaters for Raymond Louie – Mayor! (facebook group)
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=13601990479&ref=ts

Jason Kenney announces $5 Million for Chinese-Canadian community-based commemorative and educational projects related to immigration restrictions (re: head tax and exclusion act)


Jason Kenney, Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity was in BC, and came to a ceremony at the Shiang Garden Restaurant in
Richmond, BC.

Jason Kenney affirmed the announcement below.  In addition, he
named Wesley Lowe, to head the advisory panel which will
oversee the evaluation of projects and disbursement of funds.  

While this announcement does not give recognition to the 99.3% of head tax certificates where the head tax payers or spouses are pre-deceased.  It allows the community to move forward to create projects that are commemorative and educational, to help all Canadians understand the terrible systemic racism that Canada perpetuated against a single ethnic cultural group that spanned over 62 years, by means of the Chinese head tax (1885-1923), and the Exclusion Act (1923-1947).

-

Canadian Heritage / Patrimoine

The Government of Canada Promotes Historical Recognition for
Chinese-Canadian Community's Immigration Experiences

TORONTO, May 8, 2008 – The Honourable Jason Kenney,
Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), today
announced $5 million in grants and contributions funding will be made
available to the Chinese-Canadian community for community-based
commemorative and educational projects related to immigration
restrictions.

“The Head Tax and other immigration restrictions, which affected
Chinese-Canadians, are an unfortunate chapter in our history and
deserve recognition,” said Secretary of State Kenney.

This funding is being provided under the Community Historical
Recognition Program, which was first announced by Prime Minister
Stephen Harper in June 2006. The Program will fund community-based
projects that will allow communities affected by Canadian wartime
measures and immigration restrictions to have their experiences
acknowledged in a way that is meaningful to them. Eligible projects
could include monuments, commemorative plaques, educational material,
and exhibits.

Other components of the Community Historical Recognition Program will
be announced in the days to come, as well as details regarding the
National Historical Recognition Program, which will fund federal
initiatives that educate Canadians about the history of wartime
measures and immigration restrictions and the contributions of affected
communities to the building of Canada.

Chinese-Canadians received an official apology by Prime Minister
Stephen Harper in 2006 for the Head Tax imposed on Chinese immigrants.
The Government also announced that it would make ex-gratia symbolic
payments of $20,000 to living Head Tax payers and to persons who had
lived in a conjugal relationship with a now-deceased Head Tax payer. To
date, more than $12 million in ex-gratia payments have already been
made to this community.

Bill Reid Gallery opens in Vancouver, the great iconic Haida artist is

The Bill Reid Gallery opening is wonderful…  

I love Bill Reid art.  I could stare at the Raven and the First Men, at the Museum of Anthropology for hours.  And the Killer Whale in front of the Aquarium… that is Bill Reid too. 

In 1990, I visisted Haida Gwaii, ancestral home of the Haida nation.  On my hand I wear a gold eagle wrap ring, carved by Garner Moody, who apprenticed with Bill Reid in Haida Gwaii.

On Saturday May 10th, I attended the packed opening at the Bill Reid Gallery on Hornby Street.  I missed the opening ceremonies at 10am, but we saw the 2pm ceremonial dance by dancers and drummers from Haida Gwaii, presided by artist Jim Hart, who is also known by his hereditary name of Chief Edenshaw.   Charles Edenshaw was the great Haida carver of silver, gold and argillite, and it was his work that first inspired Reid to carve.

View a Bill Reid photo gallery

see the Vancouver Sun article:

Coast Salish chiefs celebrate Bill Reid gallery opening

VANCOUVER – When Bill Reid art was chosen to adorn the $20
bill, it was a sign that the Haida artist had become a Canadian icon.
Now the organizers of the new Bill Reid gallery in downtown Vancouver
are hoping it will capitalize on the growing interest in art of the
Northwest Coast and catapult Reid to an international art superstar.

Artist Jim Hart prepares the raven to be placed atop the "tribute to Bill Reid" totem pole before the opening of the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver.

Artist
Jim Hart prepares the raven to be placed atop the “tribute to Bill
Reid” totem pole before the opening of the Bill Reid Gallery in
Vancouver.

Stuart Davis/Vancouver Sun

“I
think we could say already that he as the status of a national icon,”
said George MacDonald, an anthropologist and expert on Haida art who
was instrumental in bringing about the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest
Coast Art.

“What we hope to do with this gallery is to make him
an international icon. In doing that, we're promoting Northwest Coast
culture and art as much as we're promoting Bill Reid as a practitioner
of that style.”

www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=b851e277-e4ae-4958-8e5d-8cabfd10f0b8&k=50227

Wallace Chung collection at UBC: A national treasure about immigration to BC

The Empress of Asian brought many Chinese to BC.  Wallace  Chung painstakingly rebuilt a model of it.


[photo]

The Vancouver Sun featured a April 16th story about the Chung Collection $5 million, 25,000 items and UBC = a collection with special meaning by Kevin Griffin.

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=40d15d80-bc3f-4d79-b040-285019e20c9c

This is significant because Dr. Wallace Chung has always held a life-long interest in the history of Chinese Canadians.  He accumulated and donated his 25,000 item collection donation to the University of British Columbia.  The feature piece is a beautiful large scale model
ship, the Empress of Asia, which Dr. Chung spent many years reconstructing.  

I have known Dr. Wallace Chung and his wife Dr. Madeline Chung for many many years.  They have been friends of my parents.  Dr. Madeline delivered me as a baby almost 48 years ago, this Sunday, May 11th.  At the opening day of the 1986 Saltwater City display, she excitedly told people that I was One of my boys!  Dr. Wallace was Chair of the Chinese Cultural Centre at the time.

A few years ago, I created programming for Asian Heritage Month at the Vancouver Public Library, and introduced Dr. Wallace as he gave a slide show on the history of Vancouver Chinatown.

They have both been great philanthropists to the City of Vancouver, giving generously not only to the U.B.C,, but also to the Maritime Museum and the Chinese Cultural Centre.


[photo]

NEXT » 

Here’s an excerpt from Vancouver Sun April 16:

The collection includes documents,
rare books, maps, posters, paintings, photographs, silver, glass,
ceramic ware and other artifacts relating to the Canadian Pacific
Railway, the Asian experience in North America, and B.C. history.

Wallace Chung said he hopes the collection helps educate young people about the country’s history.

“I hope it shows people what hardships
Chinese people went through before they reached the stage they’re at
today,” said Chung, a vascular surgeon and professor emeritus at UBC’s
faculty of medicine.

“It really tells us what it means to be
a Canadian. Even though we were badly treated initially, we now have
landed in a very fortunate position. That story is told in all the
artifacts and documents.”

As a child, Chung was obsessed with the
Empress of Asia for two reasons: it was the ship that brought his
mother to Canada from China, and a poster of the luxury ocean liner
hung in his father’s tailor shop in Victoria.

[…]

Here’s a link to a sampling of photos from the collection, including one of Mr and Mrs Chung, and the Empress of Asia.

Asian Comedy Night returns – May 9 & 10 at the Roundhouse


9th Annual Asian Comedy Night:

Etch-YOUR-Sketch 2!
MAY 9 - Friday - 8pm

SKETCHOFF!#$%!! People's Choys Award
MAY 10 - Saturday - 8pm


Roundhouse Community Theatre
181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver
www.roundhouse.ca

Asian Comedy Night is always funny. Lots of stereotype bashing, lots of Asian-type jokes you
can relate to, or grew up with.

Host Tom
Chin has also performed at the 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner event.


From the explorASIAN website:
Come CHEER the Etch-Your-Sketchers 2 on!
Wild, ZANY, Gut-aching, peeing in pants – FUNNY! Ask anyone from the 2007 competition.
Celebrity Judges award the coveted Vancouver Rice Bowl to one team only – Winner takes all!
The second night, teams are judged by the audience – measured by YOUR applause.
The highest decibel readings take 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize.
We have 9 teams entered this year to battle it out for the coveted Vancouver Rice Bowl
and PEOPLE's CHOYS Award. 3 brand new teams with 6 returning teams promise an evening
of hilarity, camaraderie and just plain ol' fun and laughter!

Celebrity judges include: Ms. Lainey Lui, eTalk Entertainment Reporter and founder
of laineygossip.com; Ms. Lauren Toyota, Host and Segment Producer with MuchMusic's Going Coastal;
and Edmond Wong, local actor “The Professor” on CBC’s Dragon Boys.
This is an event – you don't want to miss!

Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 at door – plus service charges.
Tickets at the Roundhouse Community Centre or by phone at 604.713.1800 or online at www.vact.ca
Group rates, please call 778.885.1973





Gung Haggis dragon boat team performing well in race pieces

Paddling on False Creek in the sunshine… with friends… on a dragon boat team.  Very Vancouver!

I love the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragonboat team.  I have managed and coached it since 2002, when the team morphed from the former Celebration team, which I had created in 1997.

This past Sunday, we did some full 500m race pieces.  You could feel the power in the boat.  Some of the rookies still need to develop their timing and many paddlers still need to develop their cardio.  But the potential is there and we are very happy with our development this year.

Our core paddlers are so enthusiastic they wanted to start paddling in February.  I told them they were crazy and should go skiing instead… but happily relented and joined them, when a Global television crew wanted to film us for their “Best of BC” news series representing cultural diversity.


The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team is about opportunities. 

It's
about community building.  It's about making cultural statements.  It's
about having fun and making friends.
And it's about dragon boat racing….

This year I wanted to create two dragon boat teams.  We now have about 35 active paddlers, coming to practices on Sunday afternoon at 1:30pm and Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 6pm.  Our system is flexible.  Come at least once a week, twice is recommended.  Pick a day, paddle, bring a friend and have some fun.  Each practice is different with different combinations of paddlers.  Everybody is getting to know each other, and we are encouraging more responsibilities and team leaders.

Last year we raced 7 dragon boat races + 2 canoe regattas.  We will do similar this year, starting on May 17th at the Lotus Sports Club Bill Alley dragonboat regatta.

This year is special.
Two weeks ago we had two time Olympic kayak racer Kamini Jain come out and give us a paddle clinic.  It really helped the team both improve their paddling, and as a bonding experience.  They got to watch each other on the video, cheer for each other, and encourage each other… which is what we do on the boat all the time.  Amazingly, Kamini really complimented many of our rookie paddlers.  She was amazed that some of them had only been on a boat for 6 or 7 times.


This year's Gung Haggis team is going to be incredible.
Adding the CC Dragons paddlers gives us so much more experience in the boat.
I have been drumming during our race pieces “as coach” waiting for our “star drummer” to come out.

Imagine conducting a symphony… where everybody knows what to do, when
to do it.  All you have to do is wave your arms, and signal the
transitions.

You don't do any counting… the team does it…. mentally… or only for key words.

You stand at the front, watch them, guide them, encourage them, coach
them.  giving out cue words…. like a race jockey on a thoroughbred
horse.

Ashcroft Cache Creek Journal: Mayor of Lytton meets “Toddish McWong” at BC Community Achievement Awards

The Mayor of Lytton likes Gung Haggis Fat Choy!


Here's a picture of Peggy Chute of Lytton BC, with Lt. Gov. Stephen Point, and Premier Gordon Campbell, presenting me with the BC Community Achievement Award.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners official and unofficial have taken place in Whistler BC, Ottawa ON, Seattle WA, Santa Barbara California and even tiny Wells BC.  Maybe next year there will be a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner in Lytton BC at the home of Lytton mayor Chris O'Connor.

It was wonderful to meet so many community minded people at the 2008 BC Community Achievement Awards.  I met past Vancouver city councilors and award recipients May Brown and George Puil.  The Mayor of Kamloops congratulated me. 

The Lt. Gov. of BC, Hon. Stephen Point, said he really liked the idea of Gung Haggis Fat Choy and mixing up the cultures. 

“You must know my cousin Rhonda Larrabee, Chief of the Qayqayt First Nations,” I said.

“Oh yes,” he replied as we spoke a bit about the cross-overs and similarities of Chinese and First Nations cultures.

He and his friend laughed when I told them that my friend Dr. Henry Wu's students produced a video called “Why Indians like Chinese food.”

I must remember to invite the Lt. Gov. to the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year's Eve event.

It's aways nice to find a positive news story about oneself.  My Google News Alert for: “todd wong”

found Our towns have broad shoulders from the Ashcroft Cache Creek Journal – Ashcroft, BC, Canada.  Lytton mayor Chris O'Connor wrote a nice story about Peggy Chute of Lytton and Ben Roy of Cache Creek who also received BC Community Achievement Awards with me on April 23rd, at Government House in Victoria.

Mr. O'Connor, Mayor of Lytton, wrote:

I
was very fortunate to be in attendance at Government House in Victoria
for the presentation of the BC Community Achievement awards to Peggy
Chute of Lytton and Ben Roy of Cache Creek.

Accompanied
by Chief Byron Spinks of the Lytton First Nation, Mayor John Ranta of
Cache Creek and hundreds of other proud British Columbians, we
witnessed the very definition of what it means to be a citizen in our
great Province.

The recipients came from
communities large and small and Lieutenant Governor Steven Point and
Premier Gordon Campbell offered the thanks of all of us to a dedicated
group of BCer’s who have made large contributions to the lives of their
communities. It was humbling, since all of the recipients represented
the silent, hardworking volunteers who make our communities work.

Communities
are made up of individuals – and these are the individuals upon whose
shoulders we stand as your elected representatives. Without them there
would be no community clubs, fire departments, hospices, festivals and
every manner of activity which contributes to the vitality of our
towns. These are the people who have successfully converted the “I” to
“We” and in an ironic twist have elevated the “I” in all of us to be
the very best we can be.

While this text may be
full of clichés, the actions of these people is certainly not. Each of
them has demonstrated the imagination, commitment and sheer willpower -
their work is pure creativity of ideas and actions.

For
the following, I have borrowed from the text accompanying the awards
but I encourage you as the reader to go to the BC Community Achievement
Award website to see the full contribution made by the 2008 recipients:
www.bcachievement.com/community/2008/

Peggy Chute is described as a catalyst with a vision who makes
things happen while transferring her skills and knowledge to a younger
generation. Peggy’s accomplishments have permeated all aspects of life
and activity in Lytton for the past 50 years. Whether it’s her
commitment to education, health care, civic duty or neighborly
kindness, Peggy’s nonjudgmental personal charity is the foundation for
her larger community involvement. Peggy Chute, fondly known as “Mrs.
Mayor”, is loved and revered in Lytton as its resident ambassador.

For
the past 40 years, Ben Roy has quietly and effectively created positive
change within the Cache Creek and Thompson Nicola Regional District. He
has served as mayor, volunteer fire chief, chamber of commerce member
and was instrumental in establishing a local radio station. While
Mayor, Ben championed the landfill project as a way to provide jobs for
Cache Creek. Ben Roy has also played a pivotal role in the
revitalization of the Gold Country Communities Foundation, an
organization founded to serve the economic needs of a number of
adjoining rural communities.

“I think my favourite award winner was Todd Wong from North Vancouver
who, amongst his many accomplishments, “created the annual celebration
known as Gung Haggis Fat Choy which honours Chinese New Year and Robbie
Burns Day”. It’s not everyday you see a person of Chinese descent
accept an award in a full Scottish Regalia-including a kilt. John Ranta
didn’t believe me that the street name for the festival is the “Hung
Lo” festival. Well, I’ve never lied to him before.”

Read my story of the BC Community Achievement Awards.

I am one of 45 recipients of the BC Community Achievement Award for 2008

http://www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com/blog/_archives/2008/4/24/3657210.html

MAY is Asian Heritage month: Canadian Immigrant magazine interviews Todd Wong

It's May… time for Asian Heritage Month again.


Last year I met Dadawa, the featured performer for the explorASIAN festival. My friend Andrew Kim performed in Dadawa's band, at the Chan Centre. photo Todd Wong collection.

This is when I scan the explorASIAN website, check my calendar for the annual Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre Sketch-Off event May 9 & 10.

Asia/Pacific Heritage Week was first proclaimed in May by U.S.President Carter in 1978, becoming Asian Heritage Month in 1992.  The following year in 1993,  Toronto started the first Asian Heritage Month celebrations in Canada. It took until 2001 before it was proclaimed as Asian Heritage Month in Canada, led by Senator Vivienne Poy.

I have spent many past Mays helping to organize events for Asian Heritage Month or attending events.  It was back in 2002, that I helped set up Wayson Choy as the keynote speaker for the exploraAsian Awards Gala when I was on the inaugural One Book One Vancouver committee.  I had also helped organize and plan the opening ceremonies held at Robson Square.

That was also the year that we created the Gung Haggis explorASIAN dragon boat team to help promote Asian Heritage Month. Six years later and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team is taking up lots of my time as I am coaching 3 times a week.  Used to be I coached 3 different teams, once each week, instead of 1 team 3X week.  But we are making big performance improvements as we embrace our Asian heritage with Chinese, Japanese, Philipino and Hapa-Asian descendants.


This month's issue of Canadian Immigrant features a short interview with me about my views on Asian Heritage Month.

May 2008 is Asian Heritage Month

Join in celebrating Asian culture and heritage in Canada

By Noa Glouberman

Every
May, communities across the country have observed Asian Heritage Month,
acknowledging the long and rich history of Asian Canadians in Canada.
This year in Vancouver, the annual event — titled explorASIAN — is
marking its 12th anniversary, and invites Canadians of all backgrounds
to join in the celebration.

Todd Wong, a past explorASIAN volunteer and former program co-ordinator,
says the event isn’t simply about having Asian roots. “It’s about
understanding the history of Asians in Canada, just as other ethnic
groups, like the Scottish or French populations, may celebrate their
heritage as part of overall Canadian culture,” he explains.

Wong, who’s involved in a variety of cultural organizations and events,
and runs a website devoted to his “Asian Canadian adventures in
inter-cultural Vancouver” (gunghaggisfatchoy.com),
says the many Asian-infused programs, performances and events available
to the public in May can help all Canadians gain a better appreciation
for their own backgrounds.

“When you can look at and examine someone else’s culture and heritage,
it gives you more insight into your own roots as well,” he says.

Asian Heritage Month is celebrated in cities across Canada, including
Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary and
Edmonton. In Vancouver and other Lower Mainland communities,
explorASIAN offers an exciting schedule of events in May and June.
Visit explorasian.org for full details.

explorAsian highlights

explorASIAN 2008 Opening Event

Infinite Echoes from Japan: New Directions in Traditional Japanese Music

May 1, 7:30 p.m., Frederic Wood Theatre, UBC
explorasian.org/festival2008_short.html

Asian Cinema Takes a Bow on Knowledge Network
The Slanted Screen, Lai Man Wai: The Father of Chinese Cinema, Cinema Asia
May 2, 9, 16, 10 p.m., on the Knowledge Network
knowledgenetwork.ca

SMC/explorASIAN First Annual Filmmakers Showcase
Canadian filmmakers celebrated during Asian Heritage Month
May 11, 18, 25, 9 p.m., on Shaw Multicultural Channel

vancouver.shawtv.com/smc/smc_filmmakers.htm

Vancouver International Children’s Festival
Spectacular Korea, Halmang, Myth of Jeju Island
May 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, various show times/locations
childrensfestival.ca

Tailor Made: Chinatown’s Last Tailors

(this film is special because it is about my friend Steven Wong's father)
A film about two aging brothers who can no longer run their father’s shop
May 13, 14, 16, 28, various screening times/locations
explorasian.org/festival2008_short.html

explorASIAN 2008 Closing Event
Dharmakasa Concert
May 31, 8 p.m., Joyce Walley Learning Centre, Vancouver Museum
explorasian.org/festival2008_short.html

For a listing of events in other parts of the country, visit Canadian Heritage’s official site at canadianheritage.gc.ca/progs/multi/asian-asiatique/index_e.cfm.