Monthly Archives: December 2008

Chinese Canadians that inspired me in 2008

I am always amazed by the talents, dedication and accomplishments of the people that I know and see in our communities.   While
2008 was a year for me blessed with personal recognition from the
Province of BC, and the Royal BC Museum, I am inspired by the people that I know.

2008 recipients group photo
2008 BC Community Achievement Award recipients: 45
of BC’s most dedicated citizens stand with Premier Gordon Campbell and
Lt. Gov. Stephen Point, and BC Achievement Foundation Chair Keith
Mitchell, following the ceremonies. I can be spotted wearing my cream
jacket directly behind Premier Campbell.  I am standing between my
Vancouver arts community friends Naomi Singer on my left, and Savannah
Walling on my right,T
erry Hunter is immediately behind Savannah.  Also on my left is fellow kilt wearer Gordon Barrett in his Irish Pipes and Drums uniform – too bad you can’t see our kilts.

2008 raised the first real possibility of Vancouver’s first
Chinese-Canadian mayor with Raymond Louie running for the mayoral
nomination of the Vision Vancouver party.  Former SFU wrestler Carol
Huynh won Canada’s first gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Octogenarian Bill Wong, was the subject of a CBC documentary film
“Tailor Made.”

In August, I attended the 150 Years in Golden Mountain Gala in
Victoria, where my grand-uncles Daniel Lee and Victor Wong received the
awards on behalf of Chinese Canadian veterans.  I also stood with them
as descendants of Rev. Chan Yu Tan (my great-great-grandfather and
their grandfather) who received a community achievement award for this
work as a pioneer missionary for Chinese communities in BC.

Last year I wrote:
Chinese-Canadians that inspired me in 2007

Here is a list of the Chinese-Canadians that I found inspiring in 2008:

The Royal BC Museum created an exhibit to celebrate 150 years of BC
History and BC people, called “Free Spirit”.  They also created a
life-size photo collage display called “The Party“to
which they invited 150 of BC’s most interesting people.  The first 132
people were selected by the museum, then in August six invitees were
“voted in” including myself.  More people were voted in for November.

Check out “The Party” display at the Royal BC Museum

Cindy Lee (T&T)
Hon. David Lam
James Cheng (architect)
Peter Joe  (Sunrise Tofu)
Tong Louie
Todd Wong
Ida Chong MLA
Carol Huyhn Olympic Gold Medalist

Adrienne Wong is an actor.  In 2008 she starred in the one woman play “My Name is Rachel Corrie” for Neworld Theatre.  It opened in Montreal than played in Vancouver to packed houses for an extended run.

Rhonda Larrabee is my mother’s cousin. Rhonda single-handedly re-established the Qayqayt “New Westminster” First Nations Band.  Unfortunately she wasn’t included in the CBC documentatry Generations: The Chan Legacy, because the executive producer thought that Rhonda’s story really deserved her own documentary.  Surprise!  CTV made a documentary on Rhonda titled “One Women Tribe”

Bill Wong Modernize Tailors – Bill is the octogenarian former UBC Engineering grad who couldn’t get hired in post-war Canada because of racism, so he put his energies into his father’s tailor shop.  Tailor Made is the CBC documentary about Chinatown’s Modernize Tailors featuring brothers Bill and Jack Wong and their family story.

and Jack’s younger brother Milton Wong is one of Vancouver’s important
figures, and former chancellor of SFU, and known as the “grandfather of
dragon boat racing” in Vancouver.  Both Milton and Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragonboat team member Steven Wong (son of Bill Wong) were interviewed for a German public television documentary


Tailor Made: CBC TV documentary highlights Modernize Tailors’ 80 year history in Vancouver Chinatown

Grace Chin is a writer/actor.  She wrote and performed in “The Quickie” is very Vancouver play about diversity and expectations in relationships.  Last year was her first written theatre play with partner Charlie Cho.  “The Quickie” is written solo by Grace.  Wow… now if only I could get my own writing projects off the back burner!

Brandy Lien-Worrall – In 2007 Brandy led 2 writing workshops which produced the book Eating Stories: Chinese and Aboriginal pot luck.  She also bravely battled breast cancer.
Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC honours Brandy Lien-Worrall

Wayson Choy wrote a new autobiography titled Not Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying. In 2002, I met Wayson when his novel Jade Peony was the inaugural choice for the One Book One Vancouver program.  I was on the committee, where I learned that Wayson had almost died earlier that year.  We were so fortunate that Wayson’s health recovered, and that he has written two more splendid books sinced.  The Governor General Award nominated “All That Matters” and now his memoir “Not Yet.”
Wayson Choy gives “spirited” reading for Vancouver Cultural Olympiad

Chinese-Canadians are top Canadians figure skaters! Patrick Chan and Mira Leung
Patrick Chan, the 17 year old teenager who is Canada’s current reigning
Men’s National winner  finished ninth in his World Championships
debut.  Chan only last year had won silver at the World Junior
Championships, and last November won gold at the Grand Prix in Paris.
Mira Leung finished 14th.

Wallace Chung donated his personal collection to UBC.  He is a philanthropist, and recipient of Order of Canada and Order of BC… and he loves Chinese Canadian history.  Check out this Vancouver Sun story about the Wallace Chung Collection at UBC.  $5 million, 25,000 items and UBC = a collection with special meaning

Raymond Louie – ran for the Vision Vancouver’s mayor nomination in the spring  – and in the fall he was nominated for a NAAAP award.  I endorsed Raymond for his nomination: Todd Wong supports Raymond Louie’s campaign to be Vancouver Mayor. Raymond came second to Gregor Robertson for the mayor nomination, and on November 15th, he was re-elected to Vancouver City Council with the highest number of votes for councilors.


Dr. Kerry Jang ran for City Councilor.  He is a hard-working community builder, who is also on a national committee for Mental Health, and a professor of Psychiatry at the UBC School of Medicine. It was easy to give my endorsement for Kerry.  In 2006 he was named academic of the year.  In 2007, he was named to the BC Community Achievement Award.  In 2008, he was elected a rookie Vancouver city councilor.

Joyce Lam‘s Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre put on the Neil Simon play “The Odd Couple” with an all Asian + 1 cast.  And she continues producing the annual Asian Comedy Night and  Etch-YOUR-SketchOFF
Odd Couple – Friendship with an Asian style twist on the Neil Simon play

check out

Victoria celebrates 150 years of Chinese Canadian History with a grand dinner and awards.
It was a grand party at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, organized by the Victoria Chinatown Commerce Association.  My great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan was awarded a Community Achievement Award. and my grand-uncles Daniel Lee and Victor Wong represented the Chinese-Canadian veterans for their special award.

In Memoriam:

Ed Wickberg
Ed Wickberg is known in our community circles as an honourary Chinese Canadian.  He was a professor emeritus for the UBC History department.  He contributed so much to the understanding of Chinese Canadian history and was the founding president for the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC.

Betty Ho
I met Betty during the writing workshops for the Chinese Canadian Historical Society.  Our contributions were published together in the anthology Eating Stories.  She always brought smiles and great positive energy wherever she sent.
Betty Ho goes to that big kitchen in the sky.

2008 was a fantastic year for Todd Wong aka Toddish McWong

How do you top being given a BC Community Achievement Award from BC’s premier?

Maybe being voted one of BC’s 150 most interesting people for the Royal BC Museum’s display “The Party” celebrating BC’s 150 year history.

2008 was an amazing year for me personally.  Not only was the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner a big success, but there were also wonderful events for Historic Joy Kogawa House, the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, Tartan Day proclamation, and many other personal achievements… not the least winning the “Battle of the Bards” as Robbie Burns.


In April, I received the BC Community Achievement Award from BC Premier Gordon Campbell and Lt. Governor Steven Point – photo Deb Martin

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

Vancouver Courier: Wong enjoys CelticFest’s kilty pleasures

Todd Wong named BC Community Achievement Award recipient for 2008

March 13

Toddish McWong’s “Robert Burns” wins Battle of the Bards at Celtic Fest

Photo Library - 2591

March 16

Gung Haggis Fat Choy puts a dragon (not a snake) in the 5th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

March 17

Vancouver Sun: The next celebration – Toddish McWong helps to spread the word about Tartan Day

Check out the Vancouver Sun article.
The next celebration: Wearing the tartan

North Shore News: Three North Shore residents recognized with BC Community Achievement Awards

Three recognized with awards

Province recognizes contributions to community

Tartan Day (April 6) proclaimed in City of Vancouver, April 3

Day proclaimed! standing l-r:  Tim Stevenson – city councilor, Darryl
Carracher – Scottish Cultural Centre, Heather Deal – city councilor,
Allan McMordie – JP Fell Pipe Band, BC Lee – city councilor, George
Chow – city councilor, Todd Wong – Gung Haggis Fat Choy, Kim Capri –
city councilor with Mayor Sam Sullivan.  Photo courtesy of Sven
Buemann  City of Vancouver

A Tartan  Day dragon boat paddle practice… with bagpiper and proclamation reading

Photo Library - 2645

Michael Brophy holds Scottish flag, Todd Wong, Deputy Mayor Raymond Louie, bagpiper Joe McDonald – photo Georgia Thorburn

April 11

Joy Kogawa reads “Naomi’s Tree” at Vancouver Kidsbooks

Without the initial vision and
heroic labor of Anton Wagner and Chris Kurata in Toronto and
Ann-Marie Metten and Todd Wong in Vancouver, the house and tree would not have been saved.

Joy and Todd

Joy Kogawa signs her newest book “Naomi’s Road” for Todd Wong – president of the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society – photo Deb Martin

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

2008 recipients group photo
45 of BC’s most dedicated citizens stand with Premier Gordon Campbell and
Lt. Gov. Stephen Point, and BC Achievement Foundation Chair Keith
Mitchell, following the ceremonies. I can be spotted wearing my cream
jacket directly behind Premier Campbell.  I am standing between my
Vancouver arts community friends Naomi Singer on my left, and Savannah
Walling on my right,T
erry Hunter is immediately behind Savannah.  Also on my left is fellow kilt wearer Gordon Barrett in his Irish Pipes and Drums uniform – too bad you can’t see our kilts.

BC Community Achievement Awards 2008


It’s a nice photo of Joy, and the photo credit is attributed to Todd Wong.  Cool!

MAY issue of Canadian Immigrant features a short interview with me about my views on Asian Heritage Month.

Gung Haggis dragon boat team wins Team Spirit award at Lotus Sports Club dragon boat regatta

2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team: Lotus Sports Bill Alley Dragon Boat Regatta edition:
back row: Gerard, Martin, Alissa, Steve, Jim, Stephen, Steven, Devon, Raphael, Dan, Todd, Gerry and Jonas.
front row: Joe, Paulette, Tzhe, Leanne, Joannae, Cindy, Marion, Debbie, Dave, Keng, Colleen, Wendy and Tony.

Photo Library - 2907 by you.

2008 was a fantastic year for Gung Haggis Fat Choy: reviewing last year’s events

Every year Gung Haggis Fat Choy attracts media attention and finds new ways to explore cultural diversity.  Here’s a look back at 2008.

There were a number of media articles prior to the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner event.  We were mentioned in the Vancouver Sun, Co-op Radio, Georgia Straight, and Shaw TV’s “The Express”.  On Robbie Burns Day, Todd was interviewed on Rock 101’s Brother Jake Show with Vancouver councilor Raymond Louie, then with bagpiper Joe McDonald, Todd and Joe performed and excerpt of their “Haggis Rap” for CBC Newsworld television.

Gung Haggis 2008 Dinner 160 by you.

Catherine Barr and Todd Wong auction off a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label scotch at the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner – photo VFK.

ON THE BURNER – by Mia Stainsby

Todd Wong featured interview on Co-Op Radio’s Accordion Noir

Georgia Straight – Blog  – Jan 16
I will wear a kilt’ to Robbie Burns dinner, Coun. Raymond McLouie …

Gung Haggis Fat Choy with Sukhi Ghuman on Shaw TV’s The Express

Rock 101’s Brother Jake Show with Vancouver city councilor Raymond Louie

CBC Newsworld update for Todd Wong & Joe McDonald appearance:

What to expect at Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2008 dinner – how to enjoy and have fun!

Metro News posts story and picture of Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Gung Haggis Fat Choy in Province Newspaper today for Chinese New Year

Full of surprises…. Gung Haggis Fat Choy celebrates 10th Anniversary for Toddish McWong’s Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

From the Brunei Times to the Scottish Sunday Post, Toddish McWong is becoming known the world, o’er

download by you.
Vancouver councilor Raymond Louie did show up in a Royal Stuart tartan kilt.  Here he stands with VIP host Deb Martin and Gregor Robertson MLA (now Vancouver mayor) at the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner – photo Dave Samis

Tonight: George McWhirter and Fred Wah featured for Gung Haggis Fat Choy World Poetry Night at Vancouver Public Library

Georgia Straight pokes fun at “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” becoming a icon of cultural diversity

North Seattle Herald-Outlook
has written a story about the upcoming 2nd coming of Toddish McWong to
Seattle.  Last year we staged a Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns
Chinese New Year Dinner on Chinese New Year Day in Seattle.  It was a
benefit for the Pacific North West Junior Pipe Band. 

Eric on the Road podcast with Gung Haggis Fat Choy – hitting US pod cast waves

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

Feb 24

Seattle Gung Haggis Fat Choy II, sells out and sets new standards!

Performers for 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy 250th Robbie Burns Birthday Dinner + Chinese New Year's Eve

Gung Haggis Fat Choy performers understand cultural fusion, as well as BC's pioneer history by the Scots and Chinese

But most important of all, the performers are people that I have met through my intercultural travels and adventures.  I select performers that inspire and astound me, and whom I admire.  I select performers who are enthusiastic and appreciate what Gung Haggis Fat Choy is about.

Bagpiper Joe McDonald tries on the Chinese Lion head mask for Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2008 – photo Jaime Griffiths.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a dinner like no other. 
Jam-packed with cross-cultural references to the Scottish and Chinese
pioneer history of British Columbia, it feeds its audience a
cultural-fusion cuisine of deep-fried haggis wun tun and lettuce wrap
in a 10 course Chinese banquet.  It looks forward to the future of
Chinese-Scottish-Canadian mixed DNA, and present-time Hapa-Canadian
culture of mixed ethnicity.

12th Annual Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

January 25th, 2009
5:00 reception
6:00 dinner
9:30pm After Party Chinese New Years Eve Countdown.
Floata Seafood Restaurant
#400 – 180 Keefer St.
Vancouver Chinatown.

PERFORMERS for 2009:

Silk Road Music Ensemble

was featured in the 2004 CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.” Principals Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault have traveled around the world and bring their worldly perspectives back to Canada to share.  They will be bringing percussionists with them for their 2009 performance.  Check out Qiu Xia's project for the Cultural Olympiad on Feb. 1st in Vancouver's Chinatown.

Opera Soprano
Heather Pawsey + guests

Heather grew up on the Canadian prairies wearing tartans as part of her Scottish-Canadian heritage.  Today she sings in many different languages including Mandarin Chinese and Cree.  Recently she was involved in the Brief Encounters project that paired her with a very non-opera performing project.  Heather merged their musical creativities with a little bit Chinese and a little bit Scottish, which she wants to bring to Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pipe Band

Bob Wilkins wanted to create a new pipe band that acknowledged and drew on BC's Scottish and Chinese Canadian history.  He asked me if we could work together and create something special.  We are imagining Scottish bagpipes and Chinese drums with Lion dancers… We don't quite know what is going to happen – but the sound of 10 bagpipers at the restaurant with drums should be wonderful!

Robbie Burns Chinese clapper tale by Dr. Jan Walls

Dr. Jan Walls is an expert in Chinese history and language.  He missed our 2004 Gung Haggis Dinner because of a “command performance” invitation by Yo-Yo Ma at the Peabody Essex Museum in Boston.  Jan was a smash hit at our 2005 dinner, and this time he's going to do something special for Robbie's 250th birthday!

Joe McDonald
“rapping bagpiper”

Joe has brought his special musical talents to Gung Haggis Fat Choy for every dinner since 2001.  We have performed on CBC Newsworld and The National together.  Joe's band Brave Waves was featured in the CBC television performance special Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  One of our most requested performances is our “Gung Haggis Rap” – our take on Burns' immortal Address to a Haggis – which is going to be featured in a BBC Radio Scotland special radio show for Burns' 250th.

Rita Wong

Rita's book of poetry “Forage” won the 2008 BC Book Awards Dorothy Livesay Prize for Poetry.  Like Burns, she has a keen eye for social justice and equalization of the sexes.  She is Assistant Professor in Critical and Cultural Studies for Emily Carr University  of Art and Design.
Her work investigates the relationships between decolonization, social
justice, ecology, and contemporary poetics.

Dr. Leith Davis

Leith is an expert in Burns, and has just been interviewed by BBC Radio Scotland for their 250th Anniversary Burns radio special.  She is also the director for the Scottish Studies Program at Simon Fraser University.  She has heard much about Gung Haggis Fat Choy and looks forward to her first Gung Haggis experience.  Boy… will she be surprised!

lots of special guests

a Gung Hagigs dragon dance

special celtic musicians

lots of Robert Burns poetry

lots of surprises
more to be announced

Firehall Arts Centre Box Office: 604.689.0926
Online ticket sales also available

$60 + $5 service charge = $65
Student price is $50 + $4.50 = $54.50 (must show student high school or university ID)
Children's price is $40 + $4.00 = $44 (ages 13 and under).

TABLE OF 10 (single item)
$600 + $20 service charge.
(save $30 in service charge by ordering a table)

Tickets can mailed out or picked up in advance, or held at will call.

All seats assigned in priority of ordering
except designated sponsor, performer and VIP tables.
If you would like to have 2 tickets at the VIP table or performer's – please sponsor it for $600.

Vancouver Sun editorial cartoon proclaims “wear your kilt to work day” followed by “haggis Tuesday”

This editorial cartoon ran in the Vancouver Sun, and has now been circulating the e-mails of certain Celtic/Gaelic-Canadian musicians….  with the added  quote:

Islanders and Highlanders came to this country of Canada—-
discovered, settled and governed it. Pipes are used for just about all
special occasions and this is the thanks we get!!!”

I ran the following article on my blog – which is syndicated into some other blog feeders….
Vote for Kilt wearers in the upcoming Vancouver civic election!
Mackinnon… Louie… Deal… Robertson… Chow…

It seems an amazing coincidence that the winning 10 elected city councilors and mayor, all attended the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner:  Councilors David Cadman, Raymond Louie, George Chow, Tim Stevenson, Heather Deal, Suzanne Anton, former Councilor Ellen Woodsworth, rookie councilors Andrea Reimer, Geoff Meggs and Kerry Jang +  MLA Gregor Robertson, and then current mayor Sam Sullivan (who did not run in the election).

Defeated mayor and councilor candidates Peter Ladner and Elizabeth Ball, as well as BC Lee (who did not run) had attended past dinners, along with BC Lee – but they did not attend the 2008 dinner.

At the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners… we recognize and respect all our hard-working politicians.  They all contribute to a vibrant Vancouver and it is important to recognize their contributions and support to help support our beneficiary organizations: Historic Joy Kogawa House, Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop/Ricepaper magazine, and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.


  • The first time we saw Gregor Robertson in a Kilt in 2008 – was at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner….
  • City councilor Raymond Louie declared on Brother Jake's Rock 101
    radio show, on January 25th, that Louie would wear a kilt for Gung
    Haggis Fat Choy dinner….
  • And city councilor Heather Deal came to Doolin's for the March
    Kilts Night, and made the motion (seconded by Louie) that City of
    Vancouver proclaim Tartan Day for April 6th,
  • I put tartan sashes on city councilors Tim Stevenson, George Chow
    Mayor Sullivan and a mini-skirt on councilor Capri – for a Tartan Day
    photo opportunity on April 4th.
  • Parks Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon didn't even own a kilt, until after he joined the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team!


Georgia Straight: Kevin Chong writes an intercultural love story about a Chinese guy and his Jewish non-girlfriend

Intercultural Love Stories… or almost-love stories do happen.

Once upon a time, I had a non-girlfriend who was half-Jewish, half-Caribbean.  Then we dated.  Then we didn't.

Today, I still listen to Leonard Cohen music.  I have friends who have Jewish ethnicity. And I have a girlfriend who claims we share the same cultural identity – multi-generational Canadian.  But she doesn't have any Chinese DNA.

Writer Kevin Chong has written an interesting Christmas time short story for the Georgia Straight that traverses multi-ethnic cultural definitions.  Afterall… Love knows no boundaries, right?  In the end, we are all Canadians in love… or out of love.

No Christmas at the Happy Panda

What’s an angsty Chinese guy to do when his wry Jewish non-girlfriend leaves him lonely during the holidays?

Simmons didn’t wear makeup and had thick, sideways-sprouting hair that
was the colour of dark chocolate. She slouched around campus in a
leather trench coat, smoked hand-rolled cigarettes, and drove an
unreliable Mazda GLC. It was 1994. We were 19 when we first met outside
the university library. She made fun of me for reading a collection of
poetry by Leonard Cohen. “Guys only read poetry to impress women,” she
said with her characteristic scorn. “You would do better if you wore a
clean shirt and looked me in the eye.” 

Read the story at:

New Vancouver city councilor Geoff Meggs is a good snow-maritan

Be nice to strangers…. you never know who you are going to meet.

I put my snow tires on my car only after it started snowing in December.  I am very happy with my all-season radials.  But I knew that with more snow expected last Wednesday it was time to put on my snowies.  On Tuesday Dec 16th, I drove to 3 service garages, who all were booked solid until Thursday.  But I wasn't going to wait.

I went down to Wall-Mart and bought a new tire iron.  I had to buy the tire iron, because when I got my present car from my parents last year, I couldn't find the matching tire iron.  My dad always takes his cars to the garage to have the tires changed.  Personally, I prefer changing my own tire.

There are some pretty fancy extendable snow brushes for your car for $29.  I decided to upgrade from the little skinny wooden classic for $2.97.  I bought a slightly larger plastic one with a foam grip for $4.97 + a new red ice scraper for $1.97.  I also looked at the aluminum and steel show shovels for $12.99 and $15.99.  I thought it would be good to have an extra shovel for my car… but since we already had the plastic snow shovels at home, I didn't buy one.  One week later, I now regret not buying a shovel for my car.  But I am glad that I bought the extra kitty litter.  My cat is glad too.

So… there I was on Monday morning, after the big winter solstice snow storm.  I drove into Vancouver to pick up my friend Judy Maxwell who is helping me organize the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner this year.  I had to pick up Judy at a place near South False Creek, close to Monk McQueen's Restaurant.  Driving down 6th Ave. wasn't bad.  The roads were plowed, but the cul-de-sac near where I was meeting Judy was deep.  There was loose snow on top of icy hard pack.  My car was stuck.  I tried to rock it back and forth, but it was still stuck. 

A SUV came into the cul-de-sac, and I waved to the driver to go around me, as he was headed for the building's covered parking.  A few minutes later, the drive came out of the parking lot, and came by to check on me and ask if I needed help.  My car was still stuck.

“Todd,” the stranger exclaimed when he recognized me.

The driver was wearing a hat and thick coat.  I didn't recognize him in snow gear.

“Geoff Meggs” he replied when I asked his name.  Geoff was just inaugurated as a Vancouver City Councilor only 2 weeks prior on December 8th, after winning the 9th spot of 10 city councilor positions on November 15th Vancouver Civic Election.  See my article: Mayor Gregor Robertson wears kilt to mayoral inauguration

Here's the picture by Patrick Tam, with Geoff Meggs, that I put on my blog.

I've known Geoff for a few years now, after first meeting him at Jenny Kwan's Scotch tasting fundraiser. Geoff came to the Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2008 dinner this year, and we kept crossing paths at other events through 2008.  He has always seemed nice and thoughtful, and I was very impressed after watching him during the election at all-candidates meetings.  At the Vision Vancouver nominations election that determined who would be the 8 candidates for the Nov. 15th Election, I was standing nearby Geoff and his family when the names were called.  It was great to share in the wondeful supportive family vibe that he had with his loved ones. There was such relief and happiness when his name was announced. 

Anyways…. Geoff quickly helped push my car out of the snow, with the aid of two other fellows walking by. Geoff gave some advice about rocking the car back and forth.  With the additional muscles, the car moved more easily out of the stuck snow.  Once moving, I didn't dare stop.  I waved my arm outside the car window in thanks.

I just wanted to share this small tale of Geoff Meggs helping his neighbors and strangers… as a good snow-maritan.  I think he's a good man, and I wish him luck for his first term as city councilor. 

.2008_Nov15 075

Vancouver library
worker Todd Wong, with newly elected Vancouver City Councilor Geoff
Meggs, newly-elected Vancouver Parks Commisioner Sarah Blyth, and
Vancouver firefighter Joe Foster  – attending the Vision Vancouver
victory party at the Hotel Vancouver on Nov. 15th – photo Todd Wong

Last week, Geoff Meggs was appointed as a liason for the GVRD Labour Relations Bureau, so I also hope that there will be a much more cooperative attitude for the next round of civic labour negotiations than the ones that forced the 3 Vancouver civic unions out on strikes last year.  It wasn't fun spending 88 days on the CUPE 391 picket line at Library Square, but I learned a lot.  You can read my stories about the Vancouver Library workers strike here:

Winter storms bring out the best in good snow-maritans

Help your neighbor in the snow.  Meet a stranger… make a friend!

2008_Dec 007

Snow fell on Vancouver Dec 16/17.  Here is our neighbor's heated driveway in North Vancouver.  It's not helping much, as you can see… – photo Todd Wong

The snows have been cold and deep in Vancouver since Saturday Dec 13th.  Winter Solstice saw even more white stuff fall on Dec 21st.

On a day when radio stations were sharing the message, “Stay home, if it's not urgent!” We went out for the annual Winter Solstice Festival.  The crowds were smaller than normal at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens, and there wasn't the normally l-o-n-g lineup for the candle light labrynth at the Roundhouse Community Centre.

After saying goodbye to our friends, and giving them rides to the Skytrain and the West End, my girlfriend and I cleared the sidewalk in front of her Kitsilano apartment.  We also cleared some of the snow around my car.  I climbed into the my car and turned it around.  I saw a small lone figure standing at the Eastbound bus stop.  She had stood there for much of the time we had been clearing snow… probably 30 minutes.  We hadn't seen any buses traveling on Cornwall St.  I stopped and offered her a ride to downtown, as I was headed to my parent's house in North Vancouver.

Fatima was grateful for the offer.  She said that a Skytrain station or Seabus terminal would be perfect.  I asked her where she was going. 

“North Vancouver,” she replied.

I told her I was driving across the Lion's Gate Bridge, and could take her there.  I quickly found out that she lived at 29th Ave. and Lynn Valley Road, and offered to drive her there.

Fatima has been in Canada for 17 years.  She is originally from Tehran, Iran.  She told me that Northern Iran always gets snow in the mountains, so she isn't unfamiliar with snow.  But this snow is playing havoc with her work schedule.  The previous day, the buses weren't running in West Vancouver's British Properties, so she had to take a taxi home.  And on Sunday night, it was cold and buses weren't running as frequently. 

It was fun to talk about our cultural back grounds, as she asked about my ethnicity.  She was very surprised to learn that my family had been in Canada since 1896, and that I was a fifth-generation Chinese-Canadian.  Fatima was surprised to learn that my great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan had been a Christian missionary to Canada, for the Methodist/United Church.  Fatima, it turned out, was Muslim.  She asked me about my spiritual beliefs, and I shared with her that I have attended many different kinds of
spiritual services, Buddhist, Christian, Evangelical, First Nations, and others.  We quickly found common ground in accepting that spirituality is important, and that there is one common God, spirit, universal energy – by whatever name people are using. 

Rita Wong confirmed featured poet for Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2009 Dinner

Rita Wong BC Book Prizee winner for Poetry will be our featured poet for Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2009 dinner.


Children's author finalist Meg Tilly and Poetry Prize
winner Rita Wong shared a story about reading one of Rita's poems
together during the BC Book Prize tour in the Kootenays – photo Todd

I first got to know Rita Wong around 2002, when I helped organize the first Asian Writers' Workshop Community Dinner.  We recognized Rita then as a past winner of the ACWW Emerging Writer Award, which helped he unpublished manuscript become the award winning book of poetry titled Monkey Puzzle.

I think it is fitting that Rita Wong will be our featured poet for the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner.  In many ways, we can find similarities of the themes and social conscience between Robert Burns and Rita Wong. Burns is often said to have been ahead of his time in promoting social justice, equality, and women's rights.  Rita certainly lives these issues, and is always pushing the boundaries.

Past featured authors at Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners have been George McWhirter 2008, Lensey Namioka 2007, Joy Kogawa 2006, Fred Wah 2005, Fiona Tinwei Lam 2004,

At last year's dinner, her newest book Forage – was a prize donated by Harbour Publishing (which has been a continual supporter of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner). 

Forage was nominated for the the 2008 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize at the BC Book Awards.  We caught up with Rita at the BC Book Prize Soiree and gave her the lastest copy of Ricepaper Magazine, which featured some of her poems.  Rita then went on the BC Book Prize tour and read her “duet” poem published in the magazine with her new friend and fellow award nominee Meg Tilly – nominated for the Children's Book Prize.

Forage went on in April to win the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize at the BC Book Awards.


ACWW/Ricepaper gang
Marisa Alps, Megan Lau, Rita Wong, Walter
Lew, Todd Wong, Leanne Riding. 

Details for 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner here:

Here are my pictures from the BC Book Prizes Gala

BC Book Prizes Gala

Quantum of Solstice… We explore the Winter Solstice Festival at both Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens + Roundhouse Community Centre

What do you do on the shortest day/longest night of the year?

December 21st…. and the city is being suffocated by blankets of snow.  Traffic is snarled to a halt – if people dare to go out.  Christmas shopping is threatened.

What do you do?

We went to see the James Bond movie, then mellowed by checkout the lantern procession at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens + the candle light labrynth at the Roundhouse Community Centre.

It was part of the 15th ANNUAL WINTER SOLSTICE LANTERN FESTIVAL 6:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival Main Page – Roundhouse Community …

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Many people entering the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens remarked that they've never seen the Gardens covered with snow.  It really added a beautiful vision to this multi-faceted jewel in Vancouver.

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Trust me to find an accordion…. Zeedillia performed at the Roundhouse.

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The “Trouble Makers” are a female choir, performing at the the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens for Winter Solstice.