Monthly Archives: June 2008

Kitsilano Showboat has great summer show line up with lots of cultural diversity

I saw a bagpiper playing beside Cornwall Ave. by the Kitsilano Showboat on Tuesday evening. 

I walked back to discover there were Scottish dancers from the Stave Falls Scottish Dancers from Mission BC.  Imagine my surprise to find a dancer with both Japanese and Scottish heritage.

It was fun to watch the dancing.  There was a sword dance, country dances, and even some vaudeville numbers.  It's always amusing to watch the little  ones dancing and trying to keep in time.  The older dancers are much more competent and doing well for a non-competitive dance group, so you know they genuinely are dancing for the love of the activity.

After the show I talked with Barry Leinbach, executive for the Kitsilano Showboat Society.  Barry was MCing the event as he is taking over from his mother Bea Leinbach who has helmed the Kitsilano Showboat for decades.  Beatrice Leinbach has volunteered her time to this venerable Vancouver summer cultural institution for over 60 years, and has recived the Order of BC and the Order of Canada.

I used to watch the shows at the Kitsilano Showboat when I was a young child in the '60's, when my parents would bring our family down to Kitsilano Beach.  It was always amazing watching the performers on stage, wiht the ocean and mountains in the background.

The Showboat season only started on Monday.  Thank goodness the weather has been good.

On Tuesday, The Vancouver Firefighters Band performed with firefighter/opera singer Andy Greenwood.  But sadly I was unable to attend.  Andy has been a friend of my girlfriend's parents for the last few years.  It's amazing what you can find when you walk around in your neighborhood.

Check for upcoming FREE shows starting at 7pm
There are lots of ethnic cultural groups performing and even some surprises!

Great Action photos of Gung Haggis dragon boat team in action!

Great Action shots of Gung Haggis dragon boat team by Ray Shum of Tempest Photo.

Drummer Keng Graal urges on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team in the Rec C Championships. Keng brings so much passion and
enthusiasm to the team. You'd never know that off the boat she is a
60ish Biology instructor at Columbia College.
– photo courtesy Ray Shum

A great way for improvement is watching yourself and your team in photos and video.  We were fortunate that Ray Shum took some great pictures of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team on the weekend at the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

Ray Shum loves dragon boats, and taking pictures of them in action.  He used to paddle on VO2 Max, and I can proudly say I taught him to be a paddle slut in 2002, when we hopped in a car and drove down to Kent WA for races.  We found two teams needing paddlers, and we both came home with medals and great new friends.  I paddled for Gold with Tacoma DBA in the top division, the Ray paddled for Silver with Portland's Multnohmah Canoe Club.

Check out Ray's website Tempest Photo

Check out his other great dragon boat photos from the 2008 Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival at:


Here's a great shot of Gung Haggis team at the start.  YOu can see the boat starting to plane, as we move into our faster “up” strokes.  Our drummer Keng used to drum for CC Riders, but she has paddling with us since summer '05, now she is back on the drummer seat.  Our lead right stroke is Gayle, a dragon boat veteran of 17 years.  This is her first year with Gung Haggis.  We love her, and have nicknamed her “The Goddess.”  Hillary is in 2nd right seat.  Last year was her rookie year and she has greatly improved  this year – just look at her muscles!

I LOVE this picture of Gung Haggis in the middle of the race.  You can see the rotation and the reach… varying heights and athletic
abilities… but everybody moving together and learning slightly
forward to plant the paddle.  You can just “feel the power” as they are
about to finish the reach, enter and PULL!

We've worked hard to improve our timing, and merge different paddling styles together.  For this Rec C Championship race, only four of our right side paddlers were on the team last year, Hillary (2), Stephen M (4), Jim (5) and Steven (7) and four on the left.  Colleen (3) and Marion (10) are rookies, while Gayle (1), Tony (6), Richard (8) and Paulette (9) are veterans who joined us from other teams.

Some of our regular paddlers decided to opt out of Alcan, but we talked them back into it when some other teams needed help.  We loaned Jonas to GVRD who raced against us to come 2nd and win a silver medal.  Wendy, Ashleigh and Leanne paddled on G.Force Winds in the Women's division, coached and organized by our lead stroke Gayle.


It's tradition, our steersman always wears a kilt!  Rory Dunn is another of the veteran dragon boaters who joined our team from the CC Dragons.  I've known Rory and the group for many years, and it was great to have them bring their experience to our team.  This weekend was the first time Rory had ever worn a kilt before, and he enjoyed it immensely.  He even put up with the female paddlers trying to lift his kilt with their paddles. 

Next up, we will have to get a snazzy stitched logo to sew onto the backs of our Personal Floatation Devices (PFD's), just like the GVRD 44 Cheeks team beside us.  Interesting note, I used to coach GVRD in 2003 and 2004.  Their drummer/coach is my good friend James who was my steering mentor on my first dragon boat team The Headliners back from 1993-95.

Vancouver Dragon Boat Festival and Todd Wong on Novus TV

There were lots of media camera crews at the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival last weekend in Vancouver, June 21st & 22nd.

Heather Bissonette was there from Novus TV, which broadcasts in Yaletown, False Creek and Burnaby.  I first met her a few years ago through Ricepaper Magazine.  She came to volunteer for the 2006 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner event…

She went to BCIT school of broadcast journalism.  And we have re-connected.

Heather interviewed me about dragon boats, and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team… and why we wear kilts!

Check out this yout tube video from Novus TV 

Gung Haggis dragon boat team races in Rec C Final – our best ever showing!

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team competed at the 20th Anniversary Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival on June 21, 22. 

This was the team's 7th year under the name Gung Haggis Fat Choy.

This was the best finish ever by the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat
team.  We competed hard in the REC C medal Championships.  previously,
Gung Haggis has been in the D, and E divisions.

This team showed a lot of maturity in its paddling focus, and it's
conduct.  And it showed a lot of its fun side by the addition of more
kilts into the line-up and carrying the Scottish flag as we walked from
Racer's Village to the Marshalling area.

Special congratulations to:
Stephen for captaining
Keng -for drumming
Gayle, Tzhe for lead stroke
Hillary, Alissa, Joanne, Jane, Joy, Marion, Colleen, Paulette, Jim,
Steve B, Steven W., Devon, Michael, Rich, Tony, Joe, Raphael, Gerry,
Gerard, Don, Todd – for paddling hard
Rory for steering

This team shows a lot of depth as we “loaned” non-Alcan roster paddlers
to other teams.  Thanks to this paddlers who weren't expecting to race
at Alcan, they were able to help out other teams.

Leanne, Wendy and Ashleigh paddled with Gayle Gordon's “G.Force Winds”
in the Women's division coming in 5th, to the Women's Rec A Finals…
the team's best Alcan finish ever.

Jonas was a late add-on to the GVRD 44 Cheeks, and they beat us in Rec C, as Jonas gets a silver medal.

with Jonas winning a medal as a late addition to the GVRD team.

Thank you to our supporters who came to cheer us on.  Stuart, Deb, Julie, Debbie, Ryan, Dan, Natalie, and so many more!!!!

Congratulations everybody!!!!


ps… Now who is up for a one day race in Kent WA (Seattle)
July 12, Saturday.   4 races in a day… if you make the final.  $20 each.

Dragon Boat friendships at Vancouver festival run deep, hard and long

Dragon Boat friendships at Vancouver Festival run deep, hard and long

Todd Wong and Deb Martin wear team shirts with tartan kilts, making the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team very easy to spot! photo 2005 archives.

The Gung Haggis dragon boat team paddlers are quickly discovering that by wearing a kilt with their team shirt, paddlers  and tourists are asking to take a picture with them.  Okay… we are a bit of a novelty in the paddling fashion world.

Our red team shirts emblazoned with lucky gold coins “Fat Choy”, which means “prosperity”, is easily identifiable and encourages other paddlers to yell at them “Go Gung Haggis!”  or “Where's Todd?”

As I was walking back to the tents from the marshalling area, I bumped into friends from San Francisco Linda and Andrew who not only organize one of the top clubs in Dragon Warriors, but they also organize the San Francisco Dragon Boat Festival held on Treasure Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay.  It attracts some of the best teams on West Coast, and there is a healthy but friendly rivalry between San Francisco and Vancouver teams.  In 2005, I invited Dragon Warriors to our post-Alcan Festival party, and their paddlers loved it.  Later that summer, I also invited Andrew and Linda out on a Taiwanese dragon boat during a practice for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, and gave them one of our team shirts.  They really love our shirts.  Linda said it's one of their favorites.

While I was chatting with Andrew and Linda, somebody tried to surprise me with a kiss on the neck… but I flinched.  Oops… it is Grace Morissette, my first dragon boat coach from the 1993 Headliners team when we won the inaugural Novice Cup.  Grace is paddling with the Lotus Sports Club and they surprisingly won their first race of the day, pushing them into the Competitive Divisions.  I give her a hug later… and also have a good chat with her husband Doug Mancell.

Jim McArthur is also a Lotus Sports Club stalwart.  He paddled in the first Vancouver dragon boat races at Expo 86.  Whenever Jim comes by to say hi, I unfailingly introduce him to the team, as an honourary Gung Haggis Friend.

“Where's Todd?” can often be a question asked by the team, as not only am I busy coaching the Killarney Cougar Dragons junior team, but I can often be waylaid by too many spontaneous conversations with the many dragon boat friends I know.

After all our races were done today, I was hailed by Heather Bissonette, who was doing video interviews for Nova Television.  Heather volunteered for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner event a couple of years ago, and asked me for a reference letter when she applied for the BCIT Journalism program.

“You know the drill,” she said as we started an interview about why I was combining kilts with dragon boats.

“It's about multiculturalism.  We really do celebrate diversity in Vancouver.  People recognize Canada's historical beginnings of English and French – but in BC, I say the pioneer origins are Scottish and Chinese.  The Scots came from the Far East across the Atlantic, and the Chinese came from the Far West across the Pacific.  They met here in BC, and originally didn't like each other… but soon they started dating and having kids.  This is BC's heritage and its' future.  Dragon boat racing is a way to have fun and share our cultures.”

Soon I am chatting with Daniel of One-Apparel, the team uniform sponsor for the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.  We bought this year's team shirts from Daniel, and he loves the design we put on it.  I suggest that he have a display of all the team jerseys who are his clients.  He asks for one of ours.  I have recommended teams such as Portland's Wasabi Paddling Club to him.  And when Linda and Andrew of San Francisco's Dragon Warriors admired my team jersey, they dropped in on Daniel and One-Apparel.

Back in the Racers' Village. I bumped into Phillip Chau, who is now coaching Edgewater Casino Without Warning.  Back in 2000, he captained the Nokia Dragons, and I was the drummer.  I also inadvertently ended up doing some coaching duties for the team too when Coach Leah Nagano was unable to coach us when the team switched practice dates.  We won gold for Rec B.  At this festival we are sharing a paddler for the Without Warning Men's team and the Gung Haggis Mixed Team, Tony, formerly of the Phillipine PYROS team whom I originally met in 2005.  Last year Art Calderwood was one of our best rookie paddlers on Gung Haggis, this year he is paddling on Without Warning.  Art and I bumped into each other and had a good chat.  We are proud of him, and he is happy to see that Gung Haggis has improved this year too.

Racer's Village is a compact community of 160 dragon boat teams, each with a designated spot under army tents.  On one side of the Gung Haggis team space are the Killarney Cougars, managed by teacher sponsor Stuart Mackinnon who fell in love with dragon boat racing when he joined the Gung Haggis team last year.  On our other side is G. Force Winds – coached, drummed and organized by Gayle Gordon who is now our lead stroke, and an assistant coach for our team.  Gayle is an whirlwind of activity this year, as she is also coaching a corporate team Flight Centre, tenting on the other side of G. Force Winds.

Gung Haggis is making a special effort to cheer on G. Force Winds because 3 of our paddlers who didn't roster for the Alcan race are now paddling with Gayle and G. Force.  It is really a compatible relationship.  Gung Haggis Fat Choy has built up a depth of about 40 members in our “club.”  I really wanted to build a second team, but it didn't work for Alcan this year.  Not everybody wanted to paddle at Alcan, some go on vacation, some have studies, some don't like the huge size of Alcan Races, nor the waiting in between races.  But now Wendy, Ashleigh and Leanne are paddling with Gayle.  It's fair to say that we all really love Gayle, and the effort that she puts into each practice.  We have nicknamed her “The Goddess.”

Leanne, Ashleigh and Wendy are Gung Haggis paddling on G. Force Wind.

James Yu, Michael Brophy and Todd Wong at the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

There are so many friends here at the festival.  GVRD 44 Cheeks are just opposite us.  Their coach and drummer James Yu was on my first  dragon boat team.  Their steersperson Dave Samis is also a Gung Haggis paddler.  I coached the GVRD team back in 2003, and they joined us for races in Portland OR, and Victoria BC that year.

The Pirates led by Ian Paul are around the corner.  My family friend and honourary cousin Mei-Fah is just a few tents away with the Richmond Centre Dragoneers.   Her daughter Jessie is paddling on the Richmond Colts Junior Team.  And over around the other corner are 6 Wasabi Teams from Portland. I consider the Wasabi Team Huge women's premier team as “my Portland team” because they have invited me to steer for them on 3 occasions in Kent WA, Deep Cove BC, and for last year's Victoria races.  This is largely due to my friendship with one of their veteran paddlers Suzi Cloutier, a former US National kayak team member.  Since 1991, Suzi and I have had a tradition of meeting, exchanging gifts and having a post-Alcan Monday brunch.  But sadly she is not at this year's festival.  Coach Kim Ketcham explained that she couldn't make this year's trip due to the sudden passing of a close friend.

Here's my friend Suzi admiring the Hon. David Lam Trophy for “Best Multicultural Team” with the winning Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team in 2005 – photo Todd Wong

And it is these friendships that I have with so many of the paddlers that make this event special for me.  Having conversations with Manfred Preuss and his wife Kathy from Chilliwack.  Saying hello with Connie and Kristine who also work at the Vancouver Public Library with me.  Seeing Tracey who first paddled with Gung Haggis and after only four practices won a medal at the inaugural Sellwood Park Race in Portland OR, then again two weeks later in Victoria with a combined team of Gung Haggis Fat Choy with Dieselfish of San Francisco.

Dragon Boat racing is about teamwork.  But at the root of the team is friendship.  The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team is built with an emphasis on friendship and good-hearted people.  It is the favorite team I have ever paddled or coached for.  And as Tony Lim, the former PYROS paddle wrote to me last night.  “Gung Haggis IS Todd Wong.”

Gung Haggis dragon boat team races at 10:01am Sunday – looking for Rec C finals

Lotus Team

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team at Lotus in May 17th

The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team had a nicely satisfying day at the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.  After racing at heat 9 scheduled for 9:28am and Heat 29, scheduled for 2:58pm, we posted respective times of  2:27.400 and 2:29.120 in the dreaded Gemini boats.

We are in a collision course for Rec C Finals.  Hopefully will be in the Medal Finals at 2:58, instead of the Consolation Final at 2:47.

We finished a surprising 5th in the morning heat… beating the expected higher seed in our race, then came 6th in a race of teams destined for Rec A, B and C.

But Saturday morning was very distracting.

  • We didn't know where the tents were
  • We needed to set tent up
  • Give out new team shirts
  • 2 paddlers needed to sign in at the registrar tent by 8am…
  • 2 paddlers were very late for the race.
  • All actions affect how the team moves together and works together, and takes time away looking for other paddlers because we
    don't have a full boat.
  • Consequently
    I wasn't able to spend the time with Killarney Junior team and Gung
    Haggis that I would have liked to with race prep.

But despite the confusion, our practices have helped to improve our starts and we have a strong finish.  So generally, we are happy with our performances… but we know we can do better.

Our plan for Sunday

8am… cheer on G. Force Winds…
is important to give support and encouragement to our paddlers and
friends on G. Force Winds.  Gayle has been an incredible force coaching
Flight Centre, coaching and organizing G. Force Winds, and being lead
stroke and an assistant coach for Gung Haggis Fat Choy.

8:30am   Gung Haggis team meets to go through race strategies… + team details.

We have a short window of time to complete:
a) race visualization.
b) traditional one finger lift
c) race strategies
d) paddler 1-to-1 coaching

We need to start warm-up asap,  including team exercises…
if paddlers are missing for race prep… it's like not being on the boat for the race.  There are psychic holes in the team.

Let's work together and have our best races of the weekend for am and pm.

Let's get into the medal round and do our best.

Every race is getting better,
Our starts have improved,
Our finishes have improved…
Our communication is improved.

Let's have our veteran paddlers be role models for rookie paddlers.
Let's have our multi-year Gung Haggis paddlers really welcome and work with the new-to-the-team paddlers.

Slainte, Todd

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team races at 9:28pm Heat 9

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team races at 9:28pm Heat 9 – the first Mixed Divison Qualifier

The Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival is celebrating it's 20th Anniversary.  Even though dragon boat racing first got it's start at Expo '86, The Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society didn't get going until 1987 when it took over a fledgling event that would become North America's largest dragon boat festival.

Todd Wong is coach of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, which he originally created in 1997 under the name Celebration Team.  In 2002, the team was re-named Gung Haggis Fat Choy after Wong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year fundraiser dinner.  He has been racing dragon boats since 1993, when The Headliners team he was a spare paddler on, won the innaugural Novice Division Cup.

The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team at the May 17th, Lotus Sports Club Bill Alley Memorial dragon boat regatta.

Our roster for the 2008 Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival is:

Gayle          Tzhe

Alissa          Hillary

Joanne         Jane

Marion        Colleen  

Joy              Raphael

Devon         Jim B.

Steve B.      Steven W.

Stephen M. Richard

Todd          Tony
Michael      Gerard

Joe             Gerry

Don            Paulette

drummer is Keng
steers is Rory

This is Saturday morning race schedule…
I doubt everybody will be up to watch Sat morning races.
But this gives you an idea of who is racing when and where.

Hopefully we can post the Sunday morning race times by Saturday night  on

I hope Gung Haggis will be racing in the Rec C or D final on Sunday afternoon… that's my prediction.
But we could end up in Rec C consolation, Rec D consolation or maybe even the Rec B consolation….

8:33am  Heat 4
G.Force Winds is Gayle Gordon's women's team
She is coah/drummer.  Wendy, Ashleigh and Leanne are paddling with her. Julie may spare in
later on the weekend.

8:55am  Heat 6
Killarney Cougar Dragons junior team
created and managed by Stuart Mackinnon – 2007 Gung Haggis paddler
coached by Todd Wong and steered by Steven Wong

9:28  Heat 9
Gung Haggis Fat Choy
all you beautiful people!!!

9:50  Heat 11
CC Dragons: 
Keng & Gerard's former team… where Carolyn Jefferies is paddling again, after a year with Gung Haggis

11:07  Heat 18
Edgewater Casino Without Warning
ex GH paddler Art Calderwood is paddling with this expected Comp A top contender now…
very good for this 2nd year paddler after a rookie season with Gung Haggis

11:29 Heat 20
GVRD 44 Cheeks
Steered by Dave Samis – who races all the non Alcan events with
Gung Haggis.  coached and drummed by our friend James Yu.  Jonas Ng will be paddling with them on Sunday.

11:40 Heat 21
Scotia Bank Dragons
ex GH paddlers Marlene Chamberlain and Dan Seto are paddling

Expect the 2nd race for Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team to be in Race 36 or 39

Meena Wong to seek COPE nomination for Vancouver city council

Here's the official media release for Meena Wong:

Release: June 18, 2008

Wong to seek COPE nomination for Vancouver
city council

Community activist and outreach consultant
Meena Wong announced today that she will be seeking a COPE nomination for
Vancouver city council in
this November's civic election.

“Vancouver is facing serious
challenges in increasing homelessness, the lack of affordable housing, the need
for more transit, and developing a real plan for sustainable development that
takes into account the environment while respecting the needs of all residents
and neighbourhoods,” said Wong.

“Over the past three years we
have watched Vancouver
slide backwards. Peter Ladner, along with Sam Sullivan and his NPA colleagues
cut affordable housing at South East False Creek as the homeless population
increased by almost 20 per cent since they took office in 2005.

“The NPA stood by and did
little to get more buses on the road while working people, the elderly and
students pay higher fares to cram into too few buses.

“Peter Ladner and the NPA are
prepared to waste tax dollars on private security, while ordinary homeowners
have seen their taxes jump by 15 percent.

“And the NPA have divided
communities and neighbourhoods as they bungled and mishandled their eco-density

“I believe that we can do
better for Vancouver ,”
said Wong.

Wong is a Chinese community outreach
and media liaison coordinator with environmental and other non-profit
organizations. She is on the board of the Civic Education Society, the
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), and the Little Pear Garden

Wong also works with the Chinese
Head Tax Families Society, the Formosa Organic Blueberry Farm campaign to
protect farmland from Gateway highway expansion, and the Save Our Rivers
Society where she raises awareness within the Chinese speaking community about
plans to sell BC’s rivers to private for-profit power developers.

As a founder of the Chinese Action
Committee, Wong works to increase social activism within the Chinese Canadian
community. Over the past three years, she has hosted a monthly Dim Sum luncheon
that brings together members of the immigrant and mainstream Canadian

Wong writes a weekly column for the
Chinese language paper Dawa Business Press, is
a public affairs commentator on local Mandarin and Cantonese TV and radio talk
shows, and will soon be hosting a bi-lingual morning talk show on a local
community radio station.

Having lived in
Beijing , Hong Kong, Toronto
and Vancouver ,
Wong is fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. She has diverse experience
in community outreach, media relations, education, arts, business, and in IT

“I believe in
building a city where everyone matters,” said Wong. “I believe that
Vancouver should be
measured not by the height of its buildings, but by how it takes care of all
its residents – especially those who are homeless, or who are new to this city,
or whose voices have been ignored by city hall.”


For more information: Meena Wong,
604-603-7447 or

Endorsements for Meena Wong for Vancouver City Council:

“I think Meena will be an outstanding City Councillor. She has had wide civic experience in Toronto and Vancouver, has worked with different levels of government, with the Chinese Canadian National Council and is fluent in three languages.

  Her goals include :
      1Supporting Vancouver's diversity and promoting unity at City  Hall.
      2 Developing more affordable housing for people who have the right to decent shelter.
      3.Developing better public transportation.”

– Margaret Mitchell, Former MP, Vancouver East

“For all the years I have known Meena she has devoted herself to the betterment  of Vancouver.  She is a strong progressive candidate that brings conviction and new ideas to the table.  She is a focused individual and stands up for what she believes in.  I have seen her work well in bringing diverse groups together to reach commonality and consensus.  I gladly support Meena for Vancouver City Council.”

– Allan Wong, Vancouver School Trustee

“Meena Wong is the rarest of politicians: completely passionate about her community and 100% dedicated to our citizens.  Honest, hard-working and informed on the issues, she is the complete package.  Her many years of service to our city will make her an outstanding councillor.  She has my complete support.”
– Don Davies, federal NDP candidate for Vancouver Kingsway

“I congratulate Meena for deciding to run for City Council. Her dynamic personality, her years of experience in community activism and political organization, and her bilingual fluency will make her a very winnable candidate and effective Council member.”
– Tommy W.K. Tao, Tao & Company, Barristers & Solicitors

“Meena has a firm grasp of the urgent issues that confront Vancouver and the diverse communities that comprise it. No less importantly, she has the courage, dedication, and skills to be an effective representative.

Meena Wong is just the kind of person we need on City Council.”

– Dr. Stephen Phillips, Department of Political Science, Langara College

Meena Wong announces her campaign to win a city council nomination for COPE

Meena Wong wants to be a Vancouver City Councilor

Meena Wong held a press conference at Vancouver City Hall this morning at 10am.  Attending were various English language and Chinese language media. 

Also attending in support of Meena were city councilors David Cadman and George Chow, school trustee Al Blakely, former city councilor Ellen Woodsworth, Sid Tan, Gabriel Yiu, Mel Lehan, Harvely Lee, and Ron Chin.

Since moving to Vancouver from Toronto, where she had worked as assistants to Ontario legislator, and Toronto city councilor Olivia Chow, Meena has quickly built up a wonderful network in Vancouver.

She counts me as one of her first friends when she arrived in Vancouver in 2002, and asked me to introduce her:

When people have asked me, who in the Chinese community should run for City Council.  The name Meena Wong is spoken.

When I first met her, she was newly arrived from Toronto, and she came out to volunteer for the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month opening event that I was organizing.

cares about our youth.  She has worked with the SUCCESS youth
leadership millenium program.  She has worked with foreign college
students helping them learn about Canadian culture, Vancouver history
and finding them ways to participate and volunteer.  She connected me
to the YLM program as a mentor.

Meena cares about the
environment.  She helped build awareness of environmental issues in the
Chinese language community, by creating outreach for the Western Canada
Wilderness Committee where she worked with executive director Andrea
Reimer.  I see Meena at info booths in Chinatown night market and at
cultural festivals.

Meena cares
about people.  She cares about human rights.  This is why she was
active for the Chinese Head Tax Redress campaign.  Even though she is
not a head tax descendant, she helped bring the message to both Chinese
and English language communities.  We helped conduct meetings and
convey information together.

Meena builds bridges.  She has
worked for many non-profits and served on many boards including: Little
Pear Garden, Asian Canadian Writers Workshop and COPE.  Every month she
hosts a dim sum luncheon for “progressives”.  She introduces people to
people, community to community.  She introduces amazing people, people
like Libby Davies, Mel Lehan, Ellen Woodsworth, Sid Tan, David Cadman, Gabriel Yiu, or
Olivia Chow from Toronto.

During the past Vancouver civic and
provincial elections, it was Meena Wong helping COPE and NDP reach out
into the Chinese language communities.  She helps people discover that
they have more commonalities for progressive thinking people that can
overcome cultural and language barriers.

Wong knows what the issues are, and how to get results.  She knows how
city hall works, and she wants to make it more accessible for everybody
no matter what language they speak.  Meena speaks English, Mandarin and
Cantonese… and even a little French.

I know Meena personally.
She is my friend. She has supported me on many of my endeavors such as
Gung Haggis Fat Choy, Chinese Head Tax campaign, dragon boat teams,
Asian Canadian literary events…  She is constructive.  She builds
consensus.  She builds bridges. She is respectful.  She is

This is why Meena Wong will make a great contribution to Vancouver's city council.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team gets ready for final practice before the BIG RACE – Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival June 21/22

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team at the Lotus Sports Club Bill Alley Memorial Dragon Boat regatta at Barnet Marine Park on May 17th, 2008

It's the final practice before the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival…

Race schedule will be out anyday now… 
The first race could be anytime on Saturday morning.
the 2nd race is dependant upon where we finish in our first race.
the 3rd race is usually after the Women's and Junior races – so around 10am -11am.
– this is the race that determines top finishers in the finals, otherwise the consolation
The 4th race is in the finals or consolation.

TUESDAY practice is geared for final race preparation….
ALL Alcan rostered paddlers – please attend.
All other paddlers can take out our 2nd dragon boat…. so Ashleigh, Wendy, Leanne, Sean, Andrew and everybody are invited…


We had visits from Steven Wong's father and my father – both named Bill Wong.
gave an introduction about his father, who was the subject of a CBC
documentary in February called “Tailor Made: Chinatown's Last Tailor”  
Steven's father also paddled on the team “Paddling the Wong Way”.  This
was significant as Bill Wong was in his 80's and paddling with his
younger brothers Maurice and Milton – who was one of the founders of
the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Society (also known as
the corporate sponsored Alcan Dragon Boat Festival).

On the
water… we worked the team harder for a warm-up, trying to get out the
Sunday afternoon lazies… and put the team into race mode.  We started
with 1/2 boat starts… front half , then back half.  Wow… the boat
was really pulling!!!   Then a full race boat race piece.  You could
really feel it fly.   

But… timing was mushy on some areas, the fronts complained the backs were rushing, and the backs complained about timing… 

worked on some other small group exercises.  We did more front half and
back half starts.  We moved some people around.  And everything started
to fall into place again.

Our final start + transition pieces worked really well.  We can all take pride in what we are accomplishing as a team. 

During a quick debrief… Hillary's answer to everything was “Ice cream!”

Keep up the fun… get to know everybody on the team….
Remember that as hard as we want to paddle, win medals and do our best…
there is always life
after dragon boating…
and it's name is

a) f-u-n
b) f-r-i-e-n-d-s-h-i-p
c) i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m

Cheers, Todd