Monthly Archives: November 2008

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner tickets available SOON

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner tickets available SOON.

The BIG dinner is set for:
January 25th, 2009
Robbie Burns' 250th Birthday + Chinese New Year's Eve
Floata Restaurant
#400 – 180 Keefer St.
Vancouver Chinatown

Tickets available soon…. through Firehall Arts Centre.
Phone 604-689-0926

Online ticket sales also available

$60 each or $600 per table.
Only pre-booked tables of 10 are included for the “Calling of Clans”

Watch for announcement on this

Lots of surprises in store:
New performers
returning performers
countdown to Chinese New Year….

EXTRA Burns poetry
EXTRA Chinese New Years celebrations.

+ Countdown to Chinese New Year's Eve!

Vote for “Broken Family” in CBC Radio contest

Donna Lee entered a film in the CBC Radio contest called Migrations.  She is in the semi-final, and needs a push from all you good folks.

I first met Donna during the Head Tax redress campaign.  She did some filming when we protested against then Prime Minister Paul Martin.  Maybe our protesting led to his downfall?  It caught media attention.

Check out Donna's film – which gives the often untold story about how families were separated not only because it was TOO EXPENSIVE to bring a wife or family to Canada (Remember $500 in 1923 would buy a small house), but because the “Chinese Exclusion Act” made it impossible to enter Canada 1923 to 1947, if you were Chinese.  No other ethnic group was specifically targeted.  I guess they knew that Adrienne Clarkson was coming.

Here's the note from Donnna”

As you probably know, Broken Family,
my short documentary on the head tax redress movement and my family, is
in a CBC Radio Canada contest called Migrations.  It's made it to the
semi-final rounds of a people's choice online voting competition. 
Thanks for your support! 

Featuring Harvey Lee, Naiya Lee Tsang, and Sahali Lee Tsang and my
family's Rio Cafe in Souris MB, which I'm sad to say doesn't exist by
that name anymore.

If you are venturing forth on the world wide
web and feel like dropping by the website for another round of voting,
then here's the url:

it's available for viewing for this round from Thurs Nov 20th to the 26th.

There are many other fine shorts on the subject of migration – enjoy!

Many thanks for allowing me space for artist-self-promotion-type-of email.

Hope this finds you well,


Stephen Lewis gives inspiring speech at BC Federation of Labour conference in Vancouver

This week I am attending the BC Federation of Labour conference November 24-28, 2008 at the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre.  There are approximately 1200 delegates.  We have 5 delegates from CUPE 391 Vancouver Library Workers.

President Jim Sinclair gives a talk about the importance of labour unions.  He also emphasizes the challenges that migrant and immigrant workers are faced with, citing the deaths of Vietnamese-Canadians at the Fraser Valley mushroom farm, and workers from Eastern Europe working on the Golden Ears Bridge left in lurch when the contractor moves.  Sitting behind Jim, I can see Bill Saunders president of Vancouver & District Labour Council.  I met Bill in 2007 when when he gave a talk for the Anniversaries of Change Reconciliation Dinner that commemorated the 1907 riot in Chinatown by Caucasian labourers.  Immigrants and migrant workers have never had it easy in British Columbia.  Employers still exploit workers for their own personal profit.  Workers get killed in vans that don't have seat belts.  Regardless of race or ethnicity, this is shameful.

Grand Chief Edward John of the Assembly of First Nations was a special speaker for the Joint Statement with First Nations, along with 2 other chiefs.  He gave a very insightful talk about the BC 150 celebrations that occurred on Nov.19th at Fort Langley, pointing out that back in 1858, Gov. James Douglas declared the colony of British Columbia without any consultation of First Nations people who were already self-governing their own communities.  John called attention to the recent apology by Prime Minister Stephen Harper who used the words that “Survivors were 'kidnapped' from their families” and acknowledged that the purpose of the residential schools was to “…take
the Indian out of the child.”

Vancouver Mayor-elect Gregor Robertson gave a welcome to delegates, and again pledged his goal to end homelessness in Vancouver by 2015.  He spoke about repairing the damage to relations with Vancouver civic unions CUPE 1004 (outside workers), CUPE 15 (inside workers) and “in particular CUPE 391” (Vancouver Library Workers).  Robertson talked about the importance of giving more respect to civic unions, but also to the citizens of Vancouver.  He said he is is asking all groups he talks with, business, unions, community groups and citizens – to give more to help end homelessness.  I believe that the role of labour and the right to work is also fundamentally important to one's self-esteem and self-worth.  Having a job will go a long way to helping end homelessness too!

Sitting in the visitors gallery, were many newly elected or re-elected politicians in the recent civic elections such as Richmond councilor Harold Steeves. From Vancouver City Council, councilor Raymond Louie and councilors-elect Andrea Reimer, Geoff Meggs and Ellen Woodsworth, Parks commissioner-elect Aaron Jasper and School trustee-elect Jane Bouey.

Stephen Lewis' address was the highlight for many conference attendees.  My fellow delegate Ed Dickson and I marvelled at Lewis' dramatic delivery and his oratory skill.  Lewis was able to address gender equity, global poverty, AIDS, the labour movement, capitalism gone bad, his work as a United Nations envoy, the G-20, the IMF, sexual abuse in the Congo, Obama, Sarah Palin, Bono, and a talk by Desmond Tutu – all as seamless interconnected issues.

Lewis recognized the work of his father David Lewis in modeling values for him, and the importance of his wife writer Michelle Landsberg in providing feminist values.  He joked that their children were all feminist, because they knew that if they weren't, they'd be disinherited.  But this set the stage for addressing the rape and sexual abuse of women in the Congo.  He shared that he is working on a piece with Eve Ensler – because she has been addressing the issue in a series of articles and media interviews.

Lewis talks about U2 rock singer Bono, who asks why is it possible for the US and other nations to find $700 billion to help bail out Wall St. but not $250 million for the agreed upon Millenium Development goals from the 2000 UN Summit.  Lewis then went through each of the Millenium Goals such as child poverty, AIDS, disease control, hunger, and sustainable environmentalism.  He said he was disgusted by corporations asking for bail outs during this latest economic disaster which was caused by big business asking for more de-regulation so “they can do what they want.”  He cited the audacity of big business to fly to meetings with government in their corporate jets asking for hand-outs of taxpayer money. 

And then Lewis brings it all back to how it is meaningful for his audience at the BC Fed convention, by praising what he loves about trade unions – that they address and give money to social justice causes.  He summed up the importance of fair wages, a fair society, and thanked trade unionists for standing up for their country and a world “for human values instead of repugnant corporate behavior.”

It was a nice
afternoon – great speeches by First Nations chiefs, Gregor Robertson,
and amazing address by Stephen Lewis.  Following his address, Lewis was given a gift.  He opened the giftwrapped package to reveal a framed print.  He described the pastoral scene with clouds, then read the quote from J.S. Woodsworth, dedicated to the Canadian labour movement.

Georgia Straight: a short list for new cultural czar – names Duncan Low, Jim Green, Judith Marcuse, Max Wyman… and Todd Wong

Todd Wong – a cultural czar?  Georgia Straight gives 50:1 odds.

With every new government, be it federal, provincial or municipal – there is sometimes a shake up in administration, as the new government wants to put people in place that will better reflect and carry out their policies. 

The Georgia Straight's Charlie Smith is speculating there may be changes at Vancouver City Hall. 

Frances Bula writes Everyone at Vancouver city hall waiting with bated breath suggesting that City Manager Judy Rogers may be gone soon. But the Straight's Matthew Burrows reports City Councilor Raymond Louie stating “she need not fear the axe now that Vision Vancouver will replace the NPA at the helm of City Hall.”  see City manager Judy Rogers needn't be worried: Raymond Louie

Meanwhile Pieta Wooley of the Georgia Straight reported that Vision Vancouver counselor Heather Deal told the Straight the party will be discussing staffing changes in the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs. see: New Vision for Vancouver arts community.

This comment let Charlie Smith to speculate what could happen at Vancouver's Office of Cultural Affairs.  Would present managing director Sue Harvey stay or go?  If so who would replace her.  Smith suggested possible names, and then for fun, gave odds for the possibility that such names might get the job.  see: Duncan Low, Jim Green, Judith Marcuse: a short list for new cultural czar Nov. 20.

Smith named Duncan Low 3:1, Judith Marceuse 5:1, Jim Green 5:1, Sue Harvey 7:1, Heather Redfern 10:1, Max Wyman 20:1, John Mclachlan Gray 100:1…. Todd Wong 50:1

I respect and know many of the names above, and they have all been involved in the arts much longer than I have.  I suspect Charlie Smith tossed my name into the ring for some fun, because my profile was significantly raised during the Library civic strike, I am now active on our library workers union local CUPE 391, and I am a person of colour.  My community work has also painted a broad strokes covering heritage with the Historic Joy Kogawa House; literary connections through the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop, library, One Book One Vancouver; my many music, opera and theatre reviews on my website

Certainly arts manger Diane Kadota and dance choreographer Jay Hirabayashi of Kokoro Dance come to mind. Kadota has also been involved with the Powell St. Festival, while Hirabayashi founded the Vancouver International Dance Festival, and is a former board member for the Vancouver Arts Alliance.

While it is fun to speculate, I can't take Smith's suggestion of me seriously.  I am currently focused on making sure that the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner set for January 25th, 2009, will be the best Gung Haggis dinner yet.  There are plans to expand the dinner to other locations outside of Vancouver, as well as to be involved with other related projects.  It's been a big year of recognition for me already with receiving the BC Community Achievement Award in April, as well as having my full-size picture included in “The Party” exhibit at the Royal BC Museum.

See the Georgia Straights's article for the full list of names and reasons: Duncan Low, Jim Green, Judith Marcuse: a short list for new cultural czar

Here's the excerpt for Todd Wong

Todd Wong 50:1  Vision politicians like Wong, a
cultural activist who has helped them build bridges with multicultural
communities. Wong, a library assistant, was also a vocal advocate for
fellow library staff during the 2007 city strike. This won him some
points with the bigshots at CUPE, who have influence over Vision
Vancouver. Wong probably doesn't have enough management experience to
parachute into the top position, but stranger things have happened. He
could end up working in the Office of Cultural Affairs at a lower-level
post, which might help the City do more outreach. The fact of the
matter is the senior bureaucracy at City Hall is pretty damn white, and
that's going to change over time under Vision Vancouver. Whether Wong
will be part of that change is anyone's guess.

Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra performs this Sunday: Imagined Worlds

The Vancouver Inter-Cultual Orchestra is an incredible meeting place of highly trained musicians from many cultural disciplines from around the world.  Unique to Canada, and the world…. they specifically perform original and adapted works for an intercultural setting and audience.

They are performing this Sunday

Nov. 23 – 8pm
UBC School of Music Recital Hall

Check out their website:

Here's a message from Myriam Steinberg

Subject: VICO concert this Sunday:  Imagined Worlds: Past & Futures

November 23rd, The Vancouver Inter-cultural Orchestra presents our
first “gala” concert of the season: Imagined Worlds: Past & Futures

The concert will feature the world premiere of a pioneering
inter-cultural work by renowned composer/ethnomusicologist Elliot
Weisgarber (1919-2001).  Songs of a Thousand Autumns, a choral piece
based on classical texts from the 8th century Manyoshu Anthology of the
Imperial Court of Japan, was commissioned in 1984 but has never yet
been performed in its entirety. The VICO will present it in a new
arrangement by Mark Armanini, as the centrepiece of an exciting
programme that also includes The Inner Light (by another pioneer of
inter-cultural music, George Harrison of Beatles fame), the world
premiere of Habitaculum – Dwelling Place, a new commission for choir
and inter-cultural orchestra by Vancouver composer Larry Nickel, and
Nasime Shiraaz (from Dreams of the Wanderer) by Moshe Denburg,
featuring astounding Iranian tenor Amir Haghighi.

Date: Sunday November 23, 2008
Time: 8 pm

Tickets: $20 / $10 (students, seniors, VICO members, groups of 10+).
Tickets can be bought on-line at or at the door.

Address: UBC School of Music Recital Hall
UBC Music Building, 6361 Memorial Road

We look forward to seeing you there!

Aboriginal Poetry at the Chinese Cultural Centre on Sunday noon until 9pm

I've always liked the words of Chief Dan George known as “Lament for Confederation

How long have I known you, Oh Canada? A hundred years?
Yes, a hundred years. And many, many seelanum more. And today,
when you celebrate your hundred years, Oh Canada, I am sad for
all the Indian people throughout the land.

For I have known you when your forests were mine; when they gave
me my meat and my clothing. I have known you in your streams
and rivers where your fish flashed and danced in the sun, where
the waters said 'come, come and eat of my abundance.' I have
known you in the freedom of the winds. And my spirit, like the
winds, once roamed your good lands…..

Will these words be repeated?

Saturday Nov 22
Chinese Cultural Centre
50 East Pender Street

Check out:
Strong Words

-a free celebration of
aboriginal poetry is taking place from noon till 9 p.m.

The words of
Chief Dan George (shown here), George Clutesi, and Pauline Johnson will
be celebrated with readings, alongside appearances by Lee Maracle, Greg
Scofield, and others.

Last weekend to catch flight with Damon Calderwood in Billy Bishop Goes to War

2008_Nov20 003 by you.
Actor Damon Calderwood plays Captain Billy Bishop.  He shows Todd Wong his model airplane that he “flies” during his energetic performance – photo T. Wong collection

Damon Calderwood is FANTASTIC in his peformance of “Billy Bishop Goes to War”: at the Deep Cove Shaw Theatre.

Moments of applause burst throughout the performance at all the right places. 
There have been standing ovations every night, except once “when we turned the houselights up too early,” producer Jack Smith told me.

This is a show you wished you had seen earlier, so you could tell all your friends about.

Billy Bishop is a remarkable piece of written theatre. And Damon
really makes each of the 18 different characters he plays distinct and
real.  Playwright John McLachlan Gray attended the opening night performance and said “it's a very clear production,” pleased that Damon really undoubtedly “becomes” each character… instead of merely playing them.

It is a showcase for:
Canadian WW1 history
Canadian theatre
playwright John McLachlan Gray
Damon’s talent

I only met Damon earlier this year, we we played against each other in the Celtic Fest’s “Battle of the Bards”

see my blog article and pictures:
Toddish McWong’s “Robert Burns” wins Battle of the Bards at Celtic Fest

Here are some of Damon's own words he sent to me in an email:

I just wanted to send out a final reminder about Billy Bishop Goes to War (my long-awaited and finally-realized dream role!).

Roberts and I have had a wonderful time doing it, and some sellouts
already, but it must come to an end on Sat Nov 22. I've attached a few
pictures from our invited dress rehearsal.

We have four shows
left, and it will likely sell out towards the end, so do phone for
tickets right away if you can (call Eileen at 604-929-9456). As of this
e-mail, we have tickets left for all four shows, so hopefully everyone
that wants to can get a ticket! $18/$15.

The shows are Wed Nov
19, Thur Nov 20, Fri Nov 21, and Sat Nov 22 at 8pm each night. Deep
Cove's Shaw Theatre in North Van. 4360 Gallant Avenue just a few
minutes from the second narrows bridge.

I am so grateful for all
those people who have already come to see the show…in this case, I
truly believe the audience is as much a part of the show as are the
actors, and the great audiences we've had have made each show an
amazing ride for Gordon and I.

Joyfully yours,


(in the skies as “Billy” for one more week)

Be a voyeur into Vancouver condo living – Check out “The 21st Floor” theatrical production at PAL

What really goes on behind Vancouver's pricey Coal Harbour condominium closed doors?

2008_Nov11 103

The cast from “The 21st Floor” at the after-party following a performance. – photo Todd Wong

Michèle Lonsdale Smith has written The 21st Floor.  It is a voyeurist look into the mundane, sordid lives of Vancouver condo dwellers who don't know their neighbors on the same floor of until something happens.  We discover what brings them together and keeps them apart.  It's ironic that people can live so close together but never know their neighbors.  Smith explores this and gives the performers the freedom to creatively explore their emotional and physical ranges each night.

The set is lucious.  It opens into windows that reveal the surrounding Coal Harbour buildings.  You can actually look into the rooms of surrounding condos.  But the real action takes place in each of the 8 little rooms surrounding the PAL theatre space.

Each character represents typical but exotic stereotypes of Vancouver condo dwellers: The yuppie developer's son; the cold yuppie lawyer; the drug user model; the hick from Alberta; the podcaster; the gay couple; the sexaholic.

Stir and mix… taste the results.  Tangy.  Sweet.  Bitter.

Staged by Presented by Lyric Stage Project Nov 11-22, PAL theatre, Coal Harbour

Check out these links:

The 21st Floor naively explores urban alienation |

The 21st Floor / PAL Theatre / Nov 19th, 08 / 2016

The 21st Floor at the PAL Theatre | Placeblogger

Theatre review – “The 21st Floor” at PAL Theatre (Coal Harbour

HAPPY 150th BIRTHDAY B.C. Douglas Day 2008 at Ft. Langley

Douglas Day 2008 at Ft. Langley

2008_Nov15 133 by you.

This is the birthday cake given out at the Ft. Langley Community Library.  I sneaked a peek, while everybody else was having the cupcakes following the opening of Spirit Square. – photo Todd Wong

2008_Nov15 157 by you.

 James Douglas and his wife Amelia, follow a bagpiper from the newly opened “Spirit Square” to historic Ft. Langley – photo Todd Wong

2008_Nov15 244 Royal Engineer greets visitors to Historic Ft. Langley – photo Todd Wong

2008_Nov15 241 Todd Wong with Jean Barman, author of British Columbia: Spirit of the People, and Judy, president of the Friends of Historic Ft. Langley.

All proceeds of the book sales went to Friends of Fort Langley National Historic Site.  I've known Jean for a number of years, she is one of BC's most prolific authors of history.  It's always great to see her.  Yes, I finally bought a copy of the book, British Columbia: Spirit of the People, published by Howard White's Harbour Publishing.  It's a beautiful coffee table book, filled with incredible pictures and stories.

2008_Nov15 212  Lisa Pepin volunteers at Fort Langley, and counts her ancestors back 160 years back to the Fort's beginnings. – photo Todd Wong

Lisa is part of the Royal Engineers.  I first met her when they took part in the ill-fated SeaVancouver Festival in 2005.  She tells fascinating stories about Fort Langley's history which includes her own ancestors.  Check out the webpage

2008_Nov15 276 Kwantlen drummers perform on stage for the evening concert – photo Todd Wong

2008_Nov15 301 The Higgins performed during the evening concert

2008_Nov15 305 I really liked this picture.  It was evening, the concert was going, the stars were out. You can see the old style Union Jack flag on top of the flag pole, The banner tells the event for Douglas Day and BC 150 Celebrations.  You can see the Big House behind the banner and the flag. – photo Todd Wong

See more photos:

BC 150 at Ft. Langley

BC 150 at Ft. Langley

Visit Ft. Langley on Douglas Day….

It's Douglas Day in BC.

BC's first governor Sir James Douglas was raised in Scotland, after
being born in British Guyana to a Scottish father and a Creole mother. 
And then there are rivers named after Scottish-Canadian explores
Alexander Mackenzie and Simon Fraser.

I think I will go visit the event to ensure a Chinese presence…. hee hee… there was no head tax or exclusion act in effect back in 1858.  2008 is also the 120th anniversary of the arrival in Canada of Rev. Chan Sing Kai who came to help start the Chinese Methodist Church.  Hi younger brother, my great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan followed in 1896.  CBC made a television documentary in 2007 titled Generations: The Chan Legacy

For more information on the provincial celebration, including evening concert details, visit the BC 150 website.

Douglas Day
Wednesday, November 19th
from 10:00 am – 8:30pm

The first Governor of British Columbia
James Douglas
© Parks Canada

Our big day! BC turns 150 years old today, and it all started right
here. On November 19th, 1858 Governor James Douglas read a proclamation
in Fort Langley’s Big House declaring the territory a British Colony.
Parks Canada is offering free admission for the day, so celebrate the
birth of British Columbia at Fort Langley. Enjoy the BC 150 theatre
presentation, tours, and more! Our costumed staff and volunteers will
be out in force providing activities and fun for the whole family.

  • Photograph yourself into history: bring your camera, don
    one of our costumes and have your picture taken with the mural
    depicting the famous moment
  • Sign a certificate with a fountain pen stating you were at BC's birthplace ON the big day! (150 years later)
  • Visit the theatre to “Build” British Columbia with a huge soft-sculpture map of the province
  • Ongoing blacksmithing and barrel-making demonstrations
  • Kids can try their hand stringing cranberries, rolling a barrel or tackling an obstacle course!

Be a part of your provincial history on November 19th at Fort Langley NHS!

For more information on the provincial celebration, including evening concert details, visit the BC 150 website.