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.

2 thoughts on “Chinese Canadians that inspired me in 2008

  1. Anonymous

    This night of celebration has been 150 years in the making to honour and celebrate those of Chinese ancestry, as well as all Canadians, for their achievements and contributions to the Chinese Canadian community with the Golden Mountain Achievement Awards.marirea sanilor


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