Daily Archives: March 13, 2008

Todd Wong named BC Community Achievement Award recipient for 2008

Todd Wong named BC Community Achievement Award recipient for 2008

a) Todd Wong in Kitsilano b) 2007 BC Book Prize Soiree with Vancouver Poet Laureate George McWhirter c) 2006 Canadian Club Vancouver “Order of Canada/Flag Day luncheon with Staff Sergeant Constable Bob Underhill and author Joy Kogawa d) CBC Newsworld taping during the Chinese head tax redress campaign.

“It’s a great honour to be chosen,” says fifth generation Vancouverite
Todd Wong. “I hope that my activities can help inspire more people to become
active in their communities, and help make a difference. I love
community service.  It’s a great way to help shape the world we want to
live in.  I am indebted to the many community organizers that have both
helped to mentor and support me.”

“To save the Joy Kogawa
House was something that had to be done, just like righting the racial
injustice of the Chinese head tax.  But along the way, I have been
blessed to meet wonderful people and organizations such as the Terry
Fox Run Foundation, Canadian Club Vancouver, Chinese Canadian
Historical Society of BC, Chinese Canadian National Council and Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop.”

“It’s certainly worthwhile knowing that my contributions touch people,
in helping to make Canada a more racially tolerant place.  It was
amazing to learn about the challenges and racism that my ancestors and elders faced
while we made the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy.  I know
that it is a tribute to my family ancestors and a legacy to our younger

From the March 13th press release from BC Achievement Foundation:

Forty-five outstanding British Columbians were today named the
recipients of the fifth annual BC Community Achievement Awards by
Premier Gordon Campbell and Keith Mitchell, chair of the British
Columbia Achievement Foundation.
“As British Columbia celebrates its 150 anniversary this year, we
recognize the strength of our province is founded in the spirit, ideas
and passion of our people,” said Campbell. “It is a privilege to
acknowledge the efforts of these individuals who work for the
betterment of our communities and our entire province.” “These
individuals have shared the most valuable of today’s commodities, their
time and compassion and, in doing so, have positively contributed to
their communities.” added Mitchell. “We’re honoured to celebrate the
contributions of these exceptional British Columbians.”The recipients of the 2008 awards are listed: http://www.bcachievement.com/community/2008/

Todd Wong is actively involved in many community endeavors:

Historic Joy Kogawa House Society
– founding President

helped spearhead campaign to save author Joy Kogawa’s childhood home
from demolition and turn it into a historical and literary landmark for

Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop
(publishers of Ricepaper magazine)
Co-president  (2nd vice-president 2000-2005)
– helped create ACWW Community Dinners
– promote Asian Canadian arts and culture

Canadian Club Vancouver
– board member
– help plan and organize events

Chinese Canadian Head Tax Redress campaign
– worked with committees and blogged events

Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC
– contributed to short story/recipe anthology Eating Stories: A Chinese-Canadian and Aboriginal Pot Luck

Terry’s Team member since 1993, Terry Fox Run Foundation
– Cancer survivors who speak at Terry Fox Runs
– Todd has spoken at Terry Fox Runs and elementary schools in Metro Vancouver and Kelowna

Alcan Dragon Boat Festival
– served on Race Committee 2001-2003
– helped developed Public Paddle sessions in 2006

Vancouver Taiwanese International Dragon Boat Race
– helped co-found in 2003
– servied on CCC Dragon Boat Association 2003-2004

Simon Fraser University Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival
– helped co-found in 2005
– helped co-found Terry Fox Day in 1994 and Terry Fox Run at SFU.

featured in 2007 CBC Documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy
– Rev. Chan Yu Tan arrived in Canada in 1896,
– Todd was consultant and one of the Chan descendants interviewed.

featured in 2004/2005 CBC Vancouver television performance special Gung Haggis Fat Choy
– based on Todd’s Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner

View Clip

Coach and manage Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team

featured in television documentaries for Paris 3, French public
television and ZDF, German public television + CBC documentary
Generations: The Chan Legacy + CBC Newsworld.

Created GUNG HAGGIS FAT CHOY Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner
Served over 400 people in 2008.  Interviewed by international media,
including BBC Radio Scotland and Sunday Post.  Annual dinner event
started in 1998, with 16 people and grown into fundraiser event for Joy
Kogawa House, ACWW and Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.


Vancouver Heritage Award of Honour:
City of Vancouver, February 25, 2007

Awarded to TLC, The Land Conservancy, and the Save Joy Kogawa House Committee for its outstanding advocacy efforts in saving the childhood home of writer Joy Kogawa, and bringing municipal, provincial, national and international attention to the effort with its theme of “Hope, Healing and Reconciliation”.

Outstanding Alumni Contributor:
Simon Fraser University Recreation Department, April 2005

“For making an outstanding contribution by an alumni member – for the creation of SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival.”

Terry Fox Gold Medal Award:
Simon Fraser University, June 1993.

“For someone who has demonstrated those personal qualities of courage in adversity and dedication to society, which have been exemplified by Terry Fox ”

President’s Citizenship Award
Capilano College, May 1989.

“For making the greatest contribution to College life.”

City Councilor Raymond Louie officially declares his quest to be Vancouver mayor

Raymond Louie has been a Vancouver city councilor for 5 1/2 years.  Elected in 2002.  Re-elected in 2005.  He now wants to be Mayor in 2008.

Raymond Louie and his Chinese-Canadian supporters.  Todd Wong (me) is on the far left.  Dr. Kerry Jang (5th from right) will be running for Vancouver city council .  photo Bill Keay Vancouver Sun click here

Yesterday, I was one of a dozen community leaders invited for a photo with Raymond for the Vancouver Sun. We met at the Chinese Cultural Centre, beneath the large Chinese arch.  This was the exact site where I first met Raymond in 2002, when he joined Larry Campbell, for Mike Harcourt's endorsement of Campbell for Vancouver Mayor.  The rest is history.  Campbell became Mayor.  Louie became city councilor.

When I arrived, I was warmly greeted by Dr. Kerry Jang, who will also be running as a Vision candidate for city council.  Last year, Kerry won the BC Community Achievement Award, for all the community work he has done in the medical and mental health fields.  He will be a strong member of Raymond's team.

The dozen people that came out represent the backbone of the Vancouver Chinatown community.  They are leaders of the clan and business associations such as the Chinese Benevolent Association, the Chinatown Merchants Association, the Chinese Freemasons, and the Chinatown Business Improvement Association,

Also there was James Chu of the Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Association, whom I worked with when we created the Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race in 2003.  Raymond was instrumental in helping the TCCA stick handle through the bureaucracy to bring the four Taiwanese dragon boats donated to the City of Vancouver.  Raymond was also a “flag grabber” perched on the head of one of the dragon boats for the first demonstration race, where the boats race towards flags.  Each team must grab their own flag to help determine the winner.

Vancouver Sun reporter asked me what Raymond would do for Vancouver's arts community. 

“I first knew Raymond through his wife Tonya, when she was on the board of the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society.  They both understand what arts and culture mean for a multicultural city like Vancouver. This bodes well for our city's future”

Dr. Kerry Jang nodded with me in agreement.  I continued.

“Raymond was a big supporter of the Joy Kogawa House campaign, when we came to City Hall (in 2005), appealing to save it from demolition and turn it into a literary and historical landmark for Vancouver and all of Canada.”

“In my other role as a long-time Vancouver Library worker, Raymond was the only person who stepped forward and called for a mediation two weeks into last year's Vancouver Civic Strike.  The other municipalities had already settled and it was well known that any settlement would be about the same.  After two civic workers' rallies at City Hall, I only saw two councilors come out afterwards to speak to the workers: George Chow and Raymond Louie.  The 3 month civic strike was a tremendous waste of Vancouver intellectual and cultural brain trust, by  closing the libraries.  Small businesses were also affected because they couldn't access the library's databases and other services.”

Raymond Louie is the third candidate to run for the Vision Vancouver mayoralty
nomination.  Last month in February, both Allan De Genova and Gregor
Robertson declared their runs for the Vision candidacy.  De Genova has
been a two-decade long Vancouver Parks Commissioner under the NPA,
until he was kicked from the caucus by Mayor Sam Sullivan. Robertson is
a first time MLA for Vancouver Fairview since 2005.

Raymond is also a multi-generational Canadian of Chinese ancestry like myself.  Soon after he was elected city councilor, we bumped into each other at the Three Pioneer Chinese Canadian Families exhibit at the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum and Archives.  Raymond is descended from or related to H. Y. Louie, while I am the great-great-grandson of Rev. Chan Yu Tan.  Both early Vancouver pioneers were featured in the photo exhibit along with Lee Bick.

Read the Vancouver Sun article by Frances Bula:

Courier: Wong celebrates Celtic Fest's kilty pleasures

A Chinese Canadian Robert Burns?  Go figure!  But for some people it makes sense… at least in multicultural intercultural Vancouver. 

Last week the Vancouver Courier interviewed me for a Celtic Fest story about tonight's Battle of the Bards.  Photographer Dan Toulgoet met me at the Robert Burns statue in Stanley Park, which had been erected 80 years ago.

It's always interesting to find out how other people perceive Gung Haggis Fat Choy, and what they think about my persona as “Toddish McWong.”

Come check out the Battle of the Bards literary pub crawl:
5:30 Doolin's Irish Pub
6:05 Atlantic Trap & Gill
6:45 Johnny Fox's Irish Snug

8:00 Finale (cost $5)
Caile's Irish Pub Dublin Bar 2nd floor
poets “perform” with DJ + celtic fiddler
dancing afterwards

Read Fiona Hughes article:

Fiona Hughes,
Vancouver Courier

Todd Wong aka 'Toddish McWong' rocks the mic in the Battle of the Bards pub crawl March 13.View Larger Image View Larger Image

Todd Wong aka 'Toddish McWong' rocks the mic in the Battle of the Bards pub crawl March 13.

Photo by Dan Toulgoet

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2008

O'Braonain, McManus, MacIsaac, Wong. Which one is not like the other?

any other city, finding a Wong performing among all the fiddling and
whiskey-swilling Macs and Mcs at a celtic festival might be as
impossible as discovering a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But
in cross-culture pollinating Vancouver the inclusion of Todd Wong in
the Edgewater Casino CelticFest Vancouver is a no-brainer. (The
festival runs March 12 to 16 with the fifth annual St. Patrick's Day
parade scheduled for Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Granville Street

Wong, as many Vancouverites know, is the man behind
the now legendary Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, an event that combines
Chinese New Year celebrations with Robbie Burns Day at the end of each
January. The 2008 dinner marked the event's 10th anniversary.

when festival organizers went looking for a local to play Robbie Burns
in a new event at CelticFest, they looked no further than Toddish
McWong. He's featured in the Battle of the Bards pub crawl Thursday
night (March 13). The event is inspired by the renowned Dublin Literary
Pub Crawl, in which three actors act out famous works by Irish scribes.
In Battle of the Bards, three men will take on the roles of Scotland's
Robbie Burns (Wong), Wales's Dylan Thomas (Damon Calderwood) and the
Emerald Isle's William Butler Yeats (Mark Downey). They'll recite
famous works from the triple threat of Celtic literati while touring
local Celtic-flavoured pubs (Doolin's, Atlantic Trap and Gill, Johnnie
Fox's Irish Snug). At the end of the pub crawl, the three “literary
giants” will face off against each other in a spoken word poetry slam
at Ceili's Irish Pub and Restaurant. But Wong, who earns his paycheque
as a part-time library assistant and dragon boat coach, isn't an actor
and he's up against trained thespians.

Wayson Choy gives “spirited” reading for Vancouver Cultural Olympiad

Not Yet

Wayson Choy came back to Vancouver to read from his upcoming book, “Not Yet a memoir of living and almost dying,”  Wayson is famous for his first novel “Jade Peony” and its' subsequent prequel “All That Matters“which was nominated for a Giller Prize.

Recently Wayson received the Order of Canada, and Jade Peony made the Literary Review of Canada's Most Most Important Books.

His books describe growing up in Chinatown, whether fictional or his memoir Paper Shadows.  He says that his books are also about secrets, and secrets reveals.  Paper Shadows addressed the unknown secret that Wayson had been adopted, which he didn't learn until he was 57 years old.  Not Yet, reveals secrets about near death, and not being ready to die, and coming to terms with death.

When Wayson came to Vancouver in 2002 to celebrate Jade Peony being selected as the inaugural choice for the One Book One Vancouver program at the Vancouver Public Library, few people knew then that Wayson had recently been in a coma due to a heart attack.

On Tuesday night, Wayson talked about his second heart attack, and his conversations with ghosts.

“Gracious” is always the word I use to describe Wayson, and he certainly embodied the word during his talk.  It's important to recognize what we have in our lives, because when we almost lose what we take for granted, we value it so much more.  This is what Wayson and I both know, as he has now survived two heart attacks and I survived a near fatal cancer tumor.  How we deal with our challenges is important to how we live our lives.

Wayson described how after each heart attack, he had moments of clarity and meaningfullness – what I asked he might describe as “satori” in zen buddhism or what Abraham Maslow called “self-actualization.”  Wayson answered by talking about having a “knowingness that what you do matters.”

Oh… about the ghosts.

He described meeting ghosts after one of the heart attacks.  When he talked to a friend who was familiar with ghosts and spiritual matters, they confirmed the tell-tale signs and signatures.  But I will let you read the book to find out what went on.

It was great to see so many familiar faces attending the reading at the UBC Robson Square event.  I sat down beside friends Elwin Yuen and Fanna Yee.  Elwin had been on the ACWW board with me, when we honoured Wayson at the 2002 ACWW Community Dinner.  Sitting in front of us were Steven Wong with his parents Zoe and Bill Wong – subject of the CBC documentary Tailor Made.

After the book signings, I joined my cousin Janice Wong, author of Chow: From China to Canada, to help celebrate Dr. Henry Yu's birthday eve with his wife, Brandy Lien-Worrall.  Brandy edited the anthology Eating Stories which was produced in the writing workshops she led for the Chinese Canadian Historical Society.  Joining us for drinks and nachos was Leanne Riding, my co-president for Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop. 

Great stories… Great people… and inspired by Wayson.

Celtic Fest opens in Vancouver: Robert Burns (Toddish McWong) is guest poet on Co-op Radio's Wax Poetic

Robert Burns aka Toddish McWong was interviewed today on Co-Op Radio's Wax Poetic – hosted by Steve Duncan and Diane Laloge.


Wax Poetic recognized the first day of Celtic Fest by highlighting the “Battle of the Bards” event featuring celtic poets Dylan Thomas, William Butler Yeats and Robert Burns, played by Todd Wong.

Diane and Steve asked Todd about the origins of Gung Haggis Fat Choy http://www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com
and how he became interested in Robert Burns.

Todd described the first meeting of the Battle of the Bards for a CBC Radio interview with Paul Grant.

Todd also read poems “My Luv Is Like a Red Red Rose” and “A Man's a Man For A' That and A' That”. 

Burns poetry is full of love, social justice, equality, and love of life.  The issues he wrote about are still relevant today.

Todd then closed with a rap version of “Address to a Haggis.”

Steve describes The Battle of the Bards as a fun event inspired by the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl:

With CelticFest and St. Paddy's day fast upon us, we decided a tribute
to the Scotch and Irish would be appropriate, so we are raising the
dead for this show and bringing in
Robbie Burns to help celebrate.

Yeats and Burns (really two great performers, Mark Downey and Todd Wong) will be going head-to-head, along with Dylan Thomas (Damon Calderwood) in a unique literary event this year on Thursday, March 13: The Battle of the Bards Literary Pub Crawl, a
combination pub crawl/poetry slam where the legendary poets go from pub
to pub downtown performing their works and being judged by members of
the audience armed with scorecards. The event culminates in a Jack Karaoke-style match at Ceili's Pub, where they must do their pieces accompanied by a DJ (All Purpose's Michael Louw) and fiddler Elise Boeur. Once the contest is over much drinking and dancing is done into the wee hours. Click on the image below for
more details.