Robert Burns in a Transatlantic Context: SFU events FREE to the public

SFU Centre for Scottish Studies hosts a global Robert Burns conference
2009_January 178 by you.
The 250th Anniversary of Robert Burns birth, was celebrated at the Burns statue in Stanley Park with an small informal celebration organized by Todd Wong (red vest) and Dr. Leith Davis (2nd row with purple shawl, behind her front row daughter in red skirt) – photo T. Wong

How does the poetry and songs of Robert Burns affect Canadians in West Coast Vancouver?

Dr. Leith Davis, director of the Centre for Scottish Studies, Simon Fraser University, has organized a conference about the global Robert Burns – titled “Robert Burns in a Transatlantic Context.”

Leith loved attending the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, and how we blended and juxtaposed Scottish, Chinese cultures with a Canadian twist and a seasoning of First Nations.  In planning her conference for Tartan Week, we wondered how to give a “Gung Haggis” experience to her conference attendees.  So for the Tuesday night evening of Robert Burns songs and poetry, A Musical Celebration of Burns in North America, she has invited Toddish McWong and Gung Haggis Fat Choy performers to give our “Rap to a Haggis”, a Chinese claper tale performance by Dr. Jan Walls set to a Robbie Burns poem, and a performance of Auld Lang Syne (with the first verse sung in Mandarin Chinese) augmented with our parade dragon and Chinese Lions.  Deep-fried haggis wontons will hopefully be served along with haggis on Tuesday evening. 

On Wednesday afternoon, I will be part of the Community Research Forum of “Burns in BC.” – where I will talk about the history and development of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, and how it inspired both a CBC TV television Gung Haggis Fat Choy performance special and the SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival.

2009_January 261 2009 SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival features “dragon cart racing” invented by yours truly – photo Todd Wong.

How did I first meet Dr. Davis?

After brief email introductions, I called her with the idea of a wreath laying ceremony at the Burns statue in Vancouver's Stanley Park to mark the 250th Anniversary of Burn's birth.

We emailed and talked by phone and organized some activities, but we didn't meet in person until after she had spent 2 weeks in Scotland for the 2009 Homecoming activities, and arrived back in Vancouver on January 25th, and came to Stanley Park for our planned event, which her husband and two children were already present at.

That evening she and her husband were guests of honour at the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.  Leith gave “the immortal address” and marvelled at all the songs, guests, food and performances at the Gung Haggis Dinner, and especially at the impromptu ceremonial cutting of the haggis by Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson.

Please check out the free public events for the:

SFU's Centre for Scottish Studies presents

“Robert Burns in a Transatlantic


Public events:


Tuesday, April 7th

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; concerts starts at 7:00

A Musical Celebration of 
Burns in
North America

Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat, 
“Burns Songs in BC”

Kirsteen McCue and David Hamilton, 
“Burns Songs Set by Serge Hovey”

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Performers

Scottish Cultural Centre,
8886 Hudson Street , Vancouver


Wednesday, April 8th, 3:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Michael Russell, Scottish Minister for Culture,
External Affairs
and the Constitution

Scotland and
the Scottish Diaspora”

Room 1425
SFU Harbour
Centre, 515 West Hastings Street ,

Wednesday, April 8th, 3:45 – 5:00 p.m.

Community Research Forum on 
“Burns in BC”

Room 2200
SFU Harbour
Centre, 515 West Hastings Street ,


Wednesday, April 8th, 7:00 p.m.

Lecture: Dr. Robert Crawford, 
“Writing Burns’s

Room 1400,
SFU Harbour
Centre (reception to follow)


Thursday, April 9th, 3:00-4:30 p.m.

Workshop: “Connecting Diasporas: 
Scotland, Asia and the Caribbean ”

Room 2200, Harbour Centre,
515 West Hastings Street , Vancouver


All events are free and open to the public. 

Please contact Ron Sutherland to reserve a seat:;


Sponsored by SFU’s Centre for Scottish Studies;
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; and the
Vancouver Burns Club

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