Monthly Archives: October 2008

Mel Lehan, “Mayor of Kitsilano” is celebrated for his community achievments at St. James Hall Oct 19th.

Mel Lehan's legacy of community building was celebrated at St. James Hall, as Darlene Mazari called him the “Mayor of Kitsilano”

DSC_0117_61480 - Darlene MARZARI presents to Mel by FlungingPictures.

Darlene Mazari presents Mel with the tribute plaque that will hang at St. James Community Square.- photo courtesy of Patrick Tam / Flunging Pictures

Celebrating Mel Lehan 1 by FlungingPictures

Program cover for
“Celebrating Mel Lehan” – photo courtesy of Patrick Tam / Flunging

It started back in July, with an email from
Dr. David Suzuki inviting participants for an evening of recognition and
celebration of Mel Lehan.  The evening helped to raise funds for two
of  Mel's favourite organizations: Citywide Housing Coalition, and St.
James Hall.

“As a friend and admirer of Mel Lehan I am
pleased to be able to invite you to an event to honour his achievements. Mel
has worked tirelessly for as long as I can remember on numerous community,
environmental and social justice issues. He has been a mentor, organizer, and
leader in making his neighbourhood and the world a better place – one project
at a time. He believes in and brings out the best in people. His patience,
enthusiasm and energy are boundless – and this year he is celebrating his 10
year anniversary of surviving esophageal cancer.”

It was an amazing tribute to the community contributions of one man, who in
1993 saw the need for and came up with the idea of creating The St. James
Community Square. Dr. Suzuki also wrote that:

“Some of his current projects include: bringing
the Farmer¹s Market to Kitsilano; organizing STANDS around homelessness and
housing; bringing the Downtown Eastside opera ³Condemned² to his community;
helping to create 20 car free block parties; and being a spokesperson for
³Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver². In the past, to name just a few
projects, he founded Neighbour to Neighbour; created playgrounds at
Beaconsfield School and Tatlow Park; worked on preserving the Pt. Grey
foreshore and daylighting Tatlow Creek; assisted parents at the inner city
school of Macdonald Elementary to successfully organize to improve learning for
their children; and organized bus drivers at HandiDart to protect essential
services for clients and save the jobs of dedicated drivers.”

Celebrating Mel Lehan 4 by FlungingPictures – photo courtesy of Patrick Tam/Flunging Pictures

According to the program:

“Mel has been awarded “Good Neighbour of the Year” by Kitsilano Neighborhood House, “George Wainborn Good Citizen of the Year, by the Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce, “Family of the Month” by Canadian Living Magazine, and an environmental award from the David Suzuki Foundation for working on the daylighting of Tatlow Creek.  St. James Community Square Society honours Mel Lehan for his ongoing work, leadership, compassion, vision and energy.”

The evening's attendees were a who's who of Vancouver's community activists including: Joseph Roberts (Common Ground), Grace Thompson (Japanese Redress), Meena Wong (Chinese Head Tax), city councilors George Chow and David Cadman, former COPE councilors Ellen Woodsworth and Tim Louis, councilor candidate Michael Geller, parks board candidate Aaron Jasper, newly elected Member of Parliament Don Davies.

And the performers were all community activists in their own right too!

As people walked into the hall, they were serenaded by Jim Edmondson, who has been involved with the Vancouver Folk Song Society and uses folk music to promote social justice and progressive causes such as the Stand for Housing.

Solidarity Notes Labour Choir, led by Earle Peach, sang “Siyahamba” and “Bread and Roses”

Connie Hubbs and John Shayler were the MC's for the evening.

2008_Mel_Lehan 009 Todd Wong and Mel Lehan warming up before their entrance cues.

Todd Wong aka “Toddish McWong” “piped” Mel and his family into the hall, or rather “accordioned” them into the hall.  After doing his imitation of a bagpipe with “Scotland the Brave” and performing the intro to “Entry of the Gladiators”, Todd led the Lehan Clan into the Hall to the rhythm of “La Cumparsita” tango.  The audience enthusiastically clapped to the beat and quickly rose to their feet to welcome th honoured Mel Lehan. Todd is also a community activist involved with Asian Canadian arts and culture, the Chinese head tax redress campaign, saving the Joy Kogawa childhood home, and many other events.

Aline LaFlamme gave a First Nations greeting, sang an “Honour Song,” and presented Mel with a First Nations drum.  Aline is a counsellor, drummaker and traditional healer.

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Mel's daughter Mira holding the drum made by Aline LaFlamme, after the tribute – photo Todd Wong

Michael Pratt and Lynn McGowan performed “Mary Ellen Carter”, “It's Not Just What You're Born With”, “Torn Screen Door” and “Painting the Living Room”.

Greg Booth helped to lead the audience in a session of “How Did I Meet Mel?”.  This was a wonderful way to introduce the audience to each other and pay tribute to Mel.  People from Mel's past and present all shared stories of how they had met him, actively demonstrating the breadth and depth and length of Mel's community activism.  We met people who had taught Mel in school, his sister and even somebody who came to the event hoping to meet Mel.

After intermission, Johanna Hauser performed “Sim Shalom” on her clarinet, to pay tribute to Mel's Jewish heritage.  Johanna directs the Kits Classics + Worlds Beyond concert series at St. James Hall.

Darlene Mazari, former city councilor and MLA, gave poetical tribute to Mel as part of a Raging Grannies Trio with one of the original Raging Grannies – Mel's sister Freda from Victoria.  Darlene listed the reasons why Mel was being presented with the plaque of honour, and many of the organizations he has worked with.  She called him the “Mayor of Kitsilano.”

DSC_9932_61301 - Mel & family by FlungingPictures

Mel and his family watch the tributes and musical performances – photo courtesy of Patrick Tam / Flunging Pictures

Dalannah Gail Bowen, a musical activist, sang an inspired unaccompanied interpretation of Nature Boy

Andy Vine, folk song protest singer delivered a wonderful performance of “Excuse Me Your Planet is Burning,” with help from Fraser Union band holding up signs for the audience to sing the chorus.
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Andy Vine performs “Excuse Me Your Planet is Burning” as a musical tribute to Mel Lehan – photo Todd Wong

Fraser Union performed as a trio to sing one of Mel's favorite songs “Everything is Possible”, sharing stories of years of friendship with Mel and his family. It was especially touching when one of the singers pointed to Mel's daughters for the line about children growing up into beautiful adults.

Phil Vernon performed the song “Tatlow Creek” which honoured Mel's environmental work for the creek.

  DSC_0052_61415 - Todd McWONG & Meena by FlungingPicturesTodd and Meena Wong enjoyed the evening's performances and tributes to Mel Lehan – photo courtesy of Patrick Tam / Flunging Pictures

The evening closed with Jim Edmonson leading a group song “We Are Here In This Place.”  He invited all of the evening's performers up on the stage, and soon everybody in the hall was singing along.  It was a beautiful song about building community – a wonderful tribute to Mel Lehan, community builder and mentor.

2008_Mel_Lehan 029 Mel with his friends Michael Pratt and  Lynn McGowan – photo Todd Wong

2008_Mel_Lehan 032Mel and his family with the plaque in the background on the stage – photo Todd Wong

Kilts Night at the Atlantic Trap & Gill: What happens with bagpipers and kilts get together at a Maritime pub?

There are more bagpipers in Canada than in Scotland… but are there more kilt wearers?

Oct_kilts_020 by you.John, Dave and Jim of the Delta
Police Pipe Band, Rob McDonald kiltmaker, Tyler + Todd (above) in front
of the Newfound Land flag. – photo Todd's camera

Kilts Night is a social event that brings together wearers of kilts to enjoy fine conversation, cameraderie, and often to enjoy Celtic and Celtic-Canadian music.  This was our first Kilts Night at Atlantic Trap & Gill at 612 Davie and Seymour St., since 2004.  It's a lovely Canadian Martime themed pub, which proudly displays all the flags of the Maritime provinces such as Newfound Land, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Oct_kilts_009Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team kilt contingent: Raphael, Todd, Tzhe, Wendy, Jim and Marion – photo Todd's camera

Kilts Night is a regular social event for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, which actively celebrates BC's Chinese-Scottish-Canadian history by paddling dragon boats, wearing kilts, eating deep-fried haggis won ton at team parties, and attending Kilts Night and Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year events.

The first Kilts Night I ever attended was at the Atlantic Trap & Gill, back in 2004.  Kilts night then was attended by bagpipers Dr. Nathan and tatoo artists such as Vince Hemingson. 

We would meet on the 1st Saturday of each month at “The Trap.” But one day in January, we discovered that “The Trap” was closed on New Year's Day.  Standing outside in the cold, we pondered our possibilities, and quickly ended up at Doolin's Irish Pub.  There we discovered all the waitresses were wearing kilts and Kilts Night moved to Doolin's.

BC has a long tradition with Scottish culture.  The first governor was James Douglas, born in Guyana of a Scottish father and Creole mother, but edcuated in Scotland.  Canada's 1st and 2nd Prime Ministers were Sir John a. MacDonald and Alexander Mackenzie were both respectively born in Glasgow and Dunkeld, Scotland.  The first Vancouver mayor was Malcolm Alexander MacLean, born in Tiree Scotland.

Oct_kilts_013Allan and Trish McMordie.  Allan's small pipes were very hard to hear over the loud conversing voices – photo Todd Wong

I met Allan this year when he was playing bagpipes on Robbie Burns Day for Rock 101's Brother Jake show.  Allan came to Vancouver City Hall for our Tartan Day  proclaimation in City of Vancouver with Mayor Sullivan and councillors. Allan also participated in our kilts night picture for Vancouver Sun: The next celebration.

Oct_kilts_019The boys couldn'r resist showing off their legs.  John, Dave, Jim, Rob, Tyler and Todd liftin' the kilts to show some leg – photo Todd Wong's camera

Silk Road Music performing with Victoria Symphony Oct 17 Friday

Silk Road Music performing with Victoria Symphony Oct 17 Friday

If you are in Victoria – check out this wonderful concert.  I really like Silk Road Music.  I met Qiu Xia and Andre when they were featured in the CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.”  They have performed with me at many Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner events since.

Andre is French Canadian, born in Montreal, and Qui Xia was born in Xian, China.  They truly bring world music together in cultural fusion that is naturally accessible.

Silk Road Music with Victoria Symphony
Odyssey Series 
University Centre Farquhar Auditorium
Tel: (250)385-6515 
phone. (250) 721-6561

Silk Road Music is
one of the few Chinese touring ensembles in North  America to have
performed at all the major festivals in  Canada  and many concerts
around the globe. Its  music has been featured on CBC’s Asian music
compilation, BBC International recital, Edmonton Folk Festival and
Winspear Center, with the Symphonies in Whitefish Theatre Montana,
Orpheum Theatre with the Vancouver Symphony, Chan Center UBC, Calgary
Symphony and many festivals in Canada, USA and France.

With the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Silk Road Music
presents a variety of repertoire:  from Han Ya Xi Shui- a classic Pipa
(Chinese lute) solo piece with Tabla and symphony arranged by
Mark Armanini, to a new Canada Council commission for Pipa, Erhu(Chinese violin), Guitar and orchestra piece by Jin Zhang, from a fiery original composition with Pipa, Guitar and orchestra composed by Qiu Xia He and arranged by Moshe Denburg,
to many exciting Silk Road favorites that leave audiences mesmerized,
joyed and romanced. As the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2006
nomination said: for the Best Ensemble and Pushing the Boundaries.The
world truly becomes one!
Performers and its instruments:
Qiu Xia He on Pipa
a four-stringed tear drop shaped lute with over seventy playing
techniques using 5 plastic fingernails attached to the right hand,the
result is a wide range of sounds likened to a mini-symphony. It is a
key classical Chinese instrument dating back 2000 years.Qiu Xia He was
born in  Baoji   China .  At the age of thirteen, she became a
professional pipa player.  At twenty four, she was an instructor at
the  Xian Music   Academy . Since arriving in  Canada  in 1989, she has
been actively pursuing her career world-wide as a performer, composer,
producer and teacher.  She is the creator and artistic director of Silk
Road Music for the last 18 years. There are 3 CDs produced under the
group and many collaborations with top artists from the world. She has
been a featured soloist with Symphony orchestras like  Vancouver , 
Montana  and  Calgary . 
Andre Thibault  on guitar, flute and percussion.
was born in  Montreal . He is a brilliant guitarist and
multi-instrumentalist whose fiery rhythms and stunning music is created
from a unique blend of Flamenco, jazz, classical, and world music. His
musicianship has led him to share the stage with many world class
musicians from  Malaysia  to  Cuba , South Africa , India  to North
America and  Asia . He is a well respected world music performer who
has six releases under his name. 
Stefan Cihelka on Tabla
is an ancient percussion instrument from  India . it is a cloth covered
double drum consisting of one cylindrical and one conical bowl tuned to
different pitches,it is played with both hands and involves a highly
complicated combination of finger movements.
in  Montreal , Stefan has studied Tabla in  India  with the great
maestro Ustad Allarakha and his sons Ustad Zakir Hussain and Ustad
Fazal Qureshi. He has given numerous performances at home and abroad
during his career with the likes of Ustad Zakir Hussain, Iranian Tar
player and composer Amir Koushkani,, Tabla Beat Scientist Karsh Kale,
Psych-Rock band “The Tea Party”, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra,
& the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra. Currently working as a
free-lance musician in  Vancouver ,
Rong Jun on Erhu
is a Chinese two-stringed violin played vertical on the lap,with the
bow hairs running between the 2 strings.I has a snake skin bowl as a
sound box and is famous for its expressive vocal quality suggesting its
Mongolian roots.Jun is a graduate of the  China   Music   Academy  in 
Beijing  where she performed with the China Opera & Dance
Orchestra. In  Vancouver , Jun is performing as a soloist with many
musical projects like  Silk Road  and lately Koan a jazz fusion
ensemble featuring her outstanding technique. She was chosen by the
Chinese Cultural Centre to play with internationally recognized string
quartet Vega Strings as erhu soloist. Her performance was marked as
“brilliant erhu playing” in the  Vancouver  Sun. 
Mark Armanini is
a leading composer in  Canada , noted for his extraordinary works on
Asian instruments. His broad understanding of Western and Asian music
has made him in demand among the Asian community. His pipa concerto “Of
Wind and Water” was featured on  Silk Road 's new release Autumn Cloud.  
Jin Zhang  was
born in  Beijing   China . His musical education includes the Central
Conservatory of Music in  Beijing , Toho Gakuen School of Music in 
Tokyo ,  Japan , studying conducting with Professor Morihiro Okabe and
maestro Kazuyoshi Akiyama and Seiji Ozawa. He has composed for the
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony  and received
many awards for his excellent work. 
Moshe Denburg was
born in  Montreal . His musical career has spanned over three decades
and his accomplishments encompass a wide range of musical
activities,including Composition,,Performance and Jewish Music
Education. He has travelled worldwide,living and studying music in  New
York , Israel , Montreal , Toronto , India  and  Japan . From 1986-90
he studied composition with John Celona at the  University  of 
Victoria . 

Silk Road Music

Qiu Xia He


Tel: 604-434-9316


NDP candidate Don Davies wins the Vancouver Kingsway federal riding, beating Conservatives and Liberals in the Emerson vacated riding.

NDP candidate Don Davies wins the Vancouver Kingsway federal riding, beating Conservatives and Liberals in the Emerson vacated riding.

Don_Davies_Victory_Party 016 by you.
Don Davies gives his victory speech, while his campaign team, wife and daughter stand behind him. – photo Todd Wong

the past two years, I have seen Don Davies mature from a shy potential
candidate when I first met him at one of Meena Wong's dim sum lunches. 
Don has become a more assertive – yet still humble and hardworking
victorious winner.  Genuinely concerned about others, he is a
thoughtful quiet man with the heart of a lion.

“There was
nobody in that room more surprised than me,” Don shared with me after
his victory party, when I drove him back to his car at the house where
he had been watching the early election returns.

“When I first took on the nomination, people told told me it wasn't winnable – but I believed with hard work, it could happen.”

hard work is the essence of this humble working man's politician.  Over
the past two years, Don built his community presence and his campaign
team.  He put the right people in the right places, such as his campaign manager Joe Barrett
(son of former BC Premier Dave Barrett), and he worked very hard to be
informed on the issues and to learn the issues in the different
communities.  Don is a lawyer who works on human rights and protecting
workers' rights as Director of Legal Resources for Teamsters Canada
(Local 31)

There really was a strong Chinese-Scottish element to Don Davies'
campaign.  Don's wife Sheryl Palm is of Scottish ancestry and she loved wearing her tartan and attending this year's Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner. 

One of
Don's key campaign advisors was Meena Wong, a Beijing-born
Chinese-Canadian who speaks Cantonese, Mandarin and even a little
French.  While living in Toronto, Meena had also been an assistant to
Toronto city councilor Olivia Chow, now re-elected MP for
Trinity-Spadina, and of course the wife of NDP leader Jack Layton.

In his victory speech, Don gave especially big thanks to Meena Wong, whom he called
“incredible.”  Meena really helped get Don's message out to the Chinese
language community, attending Chinese-Canadian community events and
even got Don working to help new immigrants with their family
citizenship and immigration applications. Even while making a bid to
secure a COPE nomination for Vancouver City council, Meena was always
taking Don to events in the Chinese-Canadian community.

Meena told me that after phoning up new immigrants and offering them rides to vote, “They thanked me so much to be encouraged and valued and to participate in this very democratic process.”

Lots of people showed up tonight to congratulate Don Davies at his Victory Party held at Heritage Hall on Main St.:

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Former BC Premier Glen Clark, Don Davies and Meena Wong – photo Todd Wong

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CUPE sandwich!  Todd Wong (CUPE 391 executive member-at-large) with Dr. Kerry Jang (Vision Vancouver councilor candidate), and Paul Faoro (CUPE 15 President). – photo Todd Wong

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Chris Bouris (videographer of all those cool Don Davies youtube videos), Patrick Tam (Flunging Pictures), MLA (Vancouver East) Shane Simpson, Dale Jackman (NDP MP candidate Richmond)- photo Todd Wong

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Anital Romaniuk (COPE Parksboard candidate), Am Johal, Sheryl Palm, Michael Byers (NDP MP candidate Vancouver Centre), Ellen Woordsworth (COPE city council candidate) – photo Todd Wong

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Imtiaz Popat (Co-op Radio's “The Rational”), Todd Wong & Mabel Ellmore – photo Todd Wong

Don_Davies_Victory_Party 039 by Toddish McWong

Kim Elliott (, re-elected MP
Libby Davies,
– photo Todd Wong

See my flickr set here:

Don Davies Victory Party

Don Davies Victory Party

See pictures by Patrick Tam / Flunging Pictures

593 – 20081014 – Federal election – NDP victory party – Heritage Hall – Don Davies, Libby Davies, Michael Byers, Ann Chambers – Vancouver BC

593 – 20081014 – Federal…

Election 08: Vote for Harper or NOT!

I won't be voting for Harper's Conservatives today.

There is an “Anybody But Conservative” mood in BC this week.  The Tyee has published it's story: Tyee's Strategic Voters' Guide: A riding-by-riding look at pros and cons of voting 'anyone but Harper' in BC, and the Georgia Straight has printed
The Straight slate to stop Stephen Harper.

First of all, I hate negative campaign advertising.  All I have been getting from Conservative ads are why the other guys are not vote worthy, without the Conservatives saying why they are vote worthy.

Last time around, I was much more involved in the federal election because I was part of the Chinese Head Tax redress campaign. 

In January 2006, Chinese Canadian organizations were urging the members to vote for Stephen Harper's Conservative government, so he could follow through on a pledge to address Chinese Head Tax Redress.   Harper saw Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin stumble on a botched Chinese Head Tax non-apology redress.  He followed the NDP, Bloc Quebecois and Green Party in acknowledging the importance of redress for the Chinese Head Tax redress. N See my January 2006 article:
Will Harper keep his pledge for Head Tax Redress? Chinese Canadian groups are asking him!

Harper came through with his parliamentary apology on June 22 2008, and gave a redress ex-gratia payment to surviving head tax payers and their spouses, but ignored 99% of remaining head tax certificates for deceased head tax payers.  Too bad for my grand-father and great-grandfather who would have to be alive at 140 years of age, if they wanted to see a re-payment of the ultra racist head tax money.  Too bad for the families who also suffered through poverty trying to work off the incurred debt that cost as much as a house – when no other ethnic group was subjected to a head tax for entry to Canada.

Harper's Conservatives have also slashed funding for arts programs.  I have received many emails about the many different facebook groups and news releases protesting the Conservative programs.

I haven't been blogging about this year's election, because I feel this is an unnecessary election.  Thanksgiving is a terrible time for an election.  Voting sites and Election Canada have found so many of the usual volunteers and employees taking the holiday weekend off.  Political parties and other groups have been desperate for people to help do phonings and rides for voters to help get voters out.

When I went to vote this morning, I felt sorry for all the scrutineers and Elections Canada people who had to be up at 5am this morning to help get the voting sites ready for 7am voting.  That really put a damper on relaxing Thanksgiving dinner on Monday.

This election has been about opportunism on Harper's part.  He was riding high in the polls, and he wanted to call an election before the impending economic crash hit us.  He was a month too late, even though he knew it was coming soon.  He didn't release his party platform until one week before the election.

Harper has also been an opportunist on ethnic issues.  The Conservative government apologized for the Chinese Head Tax in 2006 and in 2008 apologized for the Komagata Maru incident – but they did so on their own terms despite community groups asking for more consultation.  See my article:  Ethnic Issues and the Canadian Federal Election: Gabriel Yiu's
commentary about Harper, South Asian community and the Komagata Maru

So there it is… I am not supporting Harper and the Conservatives.

Chinese style BBQ Turkey for Thanksgiving…. mmmm… yum!

Vancouver Chinatown has BBQ turkeys – only for Thanksgiving or Christmas

I had only recently discovered that you could buy bbq turkeys in Chinatown.  Usually I purchase BBQ Duck or BBQ pork.  Sometimes I pick up some roast pork because I love to chew on the crispy skin.  My friend Jim Wong-Chu has been purchasing turkeys in Chinatown for years.  My mother told me that many years ago she used to take a turkey to the Dollar Meat store in Chinatown and they would bbq it for you for only $10.

2008_Oct 128 by you.

BBQ Turkey at the Dollar Meat Store in Vancouver Chinatown – The butcher is cutting the turkey in half – photo Todd Wong

I solved the problem of cooking a messy turkey, and having too much leftovers.  On Sunday, I went down to the Dollar Meat Store on Pender St. in Vancouver Chinatown and purchased a 1/4 Turkey.  I watched the butcher take the fresh cooked turkey and cut it expertly in half.  He then placed each half on hooks in the window, and let the juice drain into the pan.  I debated buying a half turkey, because it looked so good.  Instead I chose the 1/4 with the large drumstick, because I am partial to dark meat.  It included a good size of breast meat too.  When I took it to my car, I quickly opened the box and ate some small pieces.  Yum!  Very tender and moist.

2008_Oct 157 by you.

1/4 BBQ Turkey.  You can take it home whole, or they will expertly cut it into easy serving slices for you.  Chop! Chop! Chop! and the turkey was quickly put into two take out containers, each containing delicious turkey gravy.  The gravy is flavored with Chinese 5-spice, which is also used for the BBQ Duck.  mmmm…. yum! – photo T.Wong

2008_Oct 158

Here's the view from inside the shop window.  You can see the hanging roast pig, half bbq turkey, whole bbq duck and chinese sausages. – photo Todd Wong

It was a non-traditional – but typically West Coast Canadian Thanksgiving dinner in our house tonight.  Chinese BBQ turkey, broiled salmon, yams, mashed potatoes, stir fried carrots and snow peas, lentil salad. Darn but we forgot to make the stove top stuffing!  For dessert, I couldn't find a pumpkin pie at the store this afternoon, so it was blueberry pie with coffee ice cream.

Sun shines on Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta – Gung Haggis places 2 teams in A Final

Gung Haggis dragon boat team places 2 teams in A Final at Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta.

2008_Oct 035 by you.The Gung Haggis Fun Cranberry team takes the inside corner to pass another boat.  Gung Haggis “rookie of the year candidate” Alissa Fletcher lead strokes our team, Jane and Keng in 2nd seat, rookies Brooke and Karl in 3rd seat, followed by rookies Marion and Ryan in 4th seat.  – photo Todd Wong

We arrived before 9am, and the temperature was just above freezing.  Fog hid the river.  But the sun came
out… and it warmed us.

We had 2 teams:  Gung Haggis Fat Turky and Gung Haggis Fun Cranberry.  We had a strong and enthusiastic dragon boat team this year.  Last year we 7 non-Gung Haggis paddlers join our two teams.  But this year, we had 20 current Gung Haggis paddlers + 3 Gung Haggis alumni.

It's a crazy race finale.  Put 10 voyageur canoes on the water – 100 paddlers.
Point them in the same direction up river.  Sound the horn.  drop pumpkins in the water. 

Paddle towards a pumpkin.  Fight another team for a pumpkin. Paddle under the bridge.  Take a 1.5 km loop.  Go around a marker go to the other side of the river, where a paddler jumps onto the beach.  They balance a glass of juice on their paddle and walk up the beach, before jumping back in the boat.  Go back around the marker, then under the bridge to the finish line.

Do canoes bump into each other going around turns, and along the straight-aways?  You betcha!

But first of all, each team had to race 2 preliminary heats: 2 laps around a 250m length with turns for a possible 1.5 km distance.

2008_Oct 029 by you.

Here's the Gung Haggis Fun Cranberry team showing good form with big reach. After lots of initial boat bumpings in their first race, they broke free of the pack in their second race, and finished 1st – sending them to the A Final.

2008_Oct 081 by you.
While Karl and Raphael walk up the beach balancing glasses of cranberry juice on their paddles, the Gung Haggis Fun Cranberry team tries to catch up to the Gung Haggis Fat Turkey team. – photo Deb Martin

2008_Oct 082 by you.

With Karl and Raphael back in the boats (look for a yellow vested Karl who managed not to get run over by the boat), the GH Fun Cranberry team blocks the GH Fat Turkey Team from going forward.  But really both teams need to turn right to catch up to the Pirates team, who finally bailed their boat that they tipped over at their beach landing. – photo Deb Martin.

2008_Oct 083 by you.

Free from the beach, Gung Haggis Fat Turkey team goes after the Pirates.  Tzhe in lead stroke, Kristine and Hillary in 2 seat, Joe and Stephen in 3 seat, Jim and Dan in 4 seat, Raphael and Debbie in 5 seat, Todd steers – photo Deb Martin.

2008_Oct 085 by you.

Gung Haggis Fat Turkey team catches up to the Pirates team on the turn, and grabs the inside edge.  They will effectly hold off the Pirates team and beat them to the finish.  The Gung Haggis Fun Cranberry team is still catching up – photo Deb Martin.

My High School Reunion…. Is it #30 Already for the Carson Graham class of 78?

High School Reunions…  Love them or hate them. 

Was there a high school crush you never got over?
Did one of your fellow students become the mayor?
Did somebody appear in Playboy magazines or in the movies?
It's true for my high school class!
2008_Oct 106 by you.

Here I am with my fellow Carson 78 classmates.  Guess who is the present mayor of the City of North Vancouver?

l-r Janice Moore, Sharon Hack, Darrell Mussatto, Colleen Nevin, Todd Wong, Viv (Walters) Bonin.  Viv sells Mary Kay in Kelowna, Darrell's the mayor of the City of North Vancouver. I'm the one creating crazy intercultural events and being documented by television, radio and the Royal BC Museum.

For the past few months I have been on our Carson Graham 78 High School Reunion committee.  It's been fun re-connecting with old friends, and making friends with former classmates.

2008_Oct 115

Kathleen Ross was my Chemistry 12 partner.  It was great to re-connect with her on the reunion committee along with Cathy Jarvis, Cindy Hamilton, Dave Harper, Sharon Hack, Alan Dudley, Kelly Grant and Marilyn Werseen.  Kathleen shared that she and Dave Harper had wanted to come to my Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner, but haven't made it yet.  But her parents attended a few years ago and enjoyed it.  Kathleen's heritage is Scottish and has been to Scotland several times.  I am embarrassed to say that I still have yet to go…

High School was a time of
identity formation, and research has found that this is the time that
LIFE forms its most important impressions.  That's why music from
'74-'78 will always tweak emotional pulls on us, whether we loved or
hated the Bay City Rollers, Led Zeppellin, Kiss or Olivia Newton-John
(one of my guilty favorites!).  My job was to secure a dj that would create a definite '70's vibe for us. I found Ibata Hexamer of Rhythm Nation.

2008_Oct 099 by you.
Here's one of my favorite photos from last night with some of my best
friends in high school.  Sharon Provost and Christie Harper are sitting
beneath the high school year book picture that Sharon Hack and I are
pointing to.  It's a picture of all four of us on the school badminton
team.  Provost and Harper went all the way to the Vancouver area
finals. After high school, we lost contact with Sharon Hack, and I lost
touch with Provost and Harper after my divorce.  But it was great to
see them again, and we will be keeping touch now!

The Reunion was fun.  It was last night at the Holiday Inn in North
Vancouver.  We rented the conference rooms, and hired a DJ for lots of '70's music.  A true blast from
the past. People registered and started recognizing the the faces that were intimate but distantly familiar.  It was probably harder to recognize the guys, because after 30 years hairstyles changed from shoulder length to short.  Add in male pattern baldness. But a lot of women were hard to recognize too… ugly ducklings matured into swans.  Make-overs and hair colour also probably helps.

2008_Oct 117

I played saxophone in the concert band in Grade 10 at Balmoral and
Grade 11 at Carson Graham.  Ken Redekop and Alan Dudley were two of my
best friends at Carson, they both played trombone in the school bands.
One of my best memories was our grade 11 band trip to Oregon.  As well
Alan was one of my Grouse Mountain ski buddies – we'd head up to Grouse
Mountain right after school was out.

come to our reunions if we are feeling good about our place in the world, or to show up
the people who picked on us, that we did better than them.  Or we avoid
them because we hated high school, and all the silly high school
behaviors.  Maybe we attend them because we want to see old friends that we lost
contact with or no longer have to time to connect with them.  But it must be more than that…  It's
a check-up time in our lives psychologically.  We internalize a lot of
judgement issues.  We are too bald, fat, poor, ugly, socially inept or

2008_Oct 113
Team sports were a big part of high school life.  Alan Dudley was on the rugby team, Darrell Mussatto was on the soccer team, Dave Robinson was on the basketball team.  I was on the wrestling and badminton teams.  Alan convinced me to join the rugby team in grade 12, but after the first game where I didn't play and I saw a guy get a concussion, so I left for the badminton team.

A big surprise was re-connecting with Owen Reid.  I remember Owen as somebody I had to piggy back during a rugby practice exercise.  He was much bigger and heavier than skrawny little me.  Anyways, Owen came up to me and said “Todd Wong – you are one of the people I really hoped to see tonight. Every year I read about you in the paper.” It turns out that Owen plays bagpipes at a highly competitive level, and once place 5th at the world championships.  Glen Brady came up to us, and said that he would have expected Owen to be wearing a kilt, and told a story about how Owen had played bagpipes at his brother's funeral.  Small world.

2008_Oct 095

It's funny how you always got organized in school by your last name.  Our lockers would get assigned together some years.  Here are some classmates I got to know from Balmoral to Carson in the W's.  Brian Wilson, Susan Wright, Mark Warner and Stephanie Wright

Class of '78 has matured. Some of us have succeeded, some of us
haven't.  Some of us have made a million dollars, some of us have been
in jail.  But we are survivors, and there were a few years that bound
us together through shared experience such as sports, band, clubs,
dating, Star Wars, Elvis Presley's death, or walking lonely hallways
with a friend..

Check the Carson Graham 78 Reunion website:

I also created a Carson Graham 78 Reunion face book site and added some pictures:

Sun sets earlier on Gung Haggis dragon boat team practices: Last practice before Ft. Langley Race

Most dragon boat teams have long hung up their paddles, but the Gung Haggis team has their last evening practice prior to the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival canoe Regatta this Thanksgiving weekend.

It's been a long dragon boat paddling season.  We started on Feb 17th Sunday afternoon, when a Global TV camera came out to film us for a “Best of BC” segment about cultural diversity.  Somehow paddling in dragon boats with kilts and celebrating our Chinese traditions in Canada qualifies.

First Practice: Gung Haggis dragon boat team team hits the water with a Global TV cameraman filming them to celebrate BC's cultural diversity

Global “Best of BC” review: Gung Haggis dragon boat team is part of World Class BC on Global News show Feb 26

Our last race of the season is the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta.  There are no prizes, but lots of fun and lots of pride and bragging rights.  For tonight's practice we ran two boats: veterans and new/casual paddlers.  We ran the boats side by side and did some race pieces with turns.  It was lots of fun.  I think there were 10 on the veterans boat and 16 on the fun/casual boat, and the boats stayed pretty close together.

Gung Haggis practice Oct 7 08 1780 3 Joe ....samis

The weather is getting cold in the evenings.  Joe wears his thermal undies to keep layered for our last evening dragon boat practice of the year.- photo Dave Samis

Gung Haggis practice 1781 4 Todd ....samis

The sun is setting earlier and silhouettes coach Todd Wong – photo Dave Samis

Gung Haggis practice 1787 boats rafted together Oct 7 08 10 Samis-photo Dave Samis

We raft the boats together for a rest, and coach Todd gives instructions on how to avoid a collision.  Next he tells us that we are going to race to ahead to the pier in front, 1st team goes into the mini-bay and does a loop under and around the bicycle bridge, then out.

first annual Accordion Noir Festival

Vancouver's first annual Accordion Noir Festival….

Sometimes I play accordion.  Sometimes I play with other accordionists.  Sometimes I am interviewed for CITR's Accordion Noir radio Show.

Check out this news flash about the first Accordion Noir Festival from Rowan Lipkovits:

Thursday, October 2nd, we're co-opting what would ordinarily be the
squeezebox circle (at the new Spartacus Books site as usual, 684 E.
Hastings at Heatley) with the first night of the first annual Accordion
Noir Festival, including the open stage round table we're all
accustomed to as well as some special visitors and featured live
performers (who for lack of confirmation time we're reluctant to name
8) and Bruce's fabulous accordion fashion show! 

Things will be getting
off to a start early, at 7 pm, so that promptly at 9 (after seriously
passing the hat — ask Bruce about his secret numbered Swiss bank
transfer that was needed to get his hands on this flick) we will be
hosting an official screening of the 2004 “Accordion Tribe” tour
documentary, following the travels of Guy Klucevsek's pan-European
squeezebox supergroup.  Possibly to be followed by a sneak peek
promoting the Oct 5th screening of Argentina's “Cafe de los Maestros”
as part of

the VIFF.  There'll be prize packs, too — maybe a
raffle to valiantly try to raise funds for our radio show, or at least
to cover the costs of bringing the movie.

Friday, Friday,
October 3rd, we deliver the meat of the festival programming with a
“mainstage” concert at the Railway Club (579 Dunsmuir at Seymour) from
9 pm on, featuring our friend Natasha from Victoria, mad sax and
squeezebox avant-gardist Amy Denio from Seattle, local klezmer rebel
Geoff Berner, and closing things off starting around midnight with a
final set from the jug band of the damned, the Creaking Planks. 
Admission will be $10 for what should be a heck of a show.

If you like, you can find links to our poster and the promotional public service announcement at

a good month in town for other squeezebox performances — tonight
(Wednesday Oct 1st!) there's probably still tickets available for the
folktronic quartet Fiamma Fumana and their anti-fascist elders in the
Mondine di Novi Choir at the Italian Cultural Centre.  You can read all
about them in this week's issue of the Georgia Straight (or at !)

weekend following the festival, our fair town is graced by a visit from
Gogol Bordello at the Commodore on October 10th and the grand return of
the Dreadnoughts at the Anza on the 11th.