Category Archives: Canadian Identity

Bamboo Lettering at Writers Festival with Jen Sookfong Lee, Kevin Chong and Ling Zhang

To Be Or Not To Be… a Chinese-Canadian Writer…

55
Bamboo Lettering
– event #55 at the Vancouver International Writers Festival
Saturday Oct 22nd, Arts Club Revue Theatre, Vancouver

photo photo T.Wong
This is my favorite photo of the three writers Jen Sookfong Lee, Ling Zhang and Kevin Chong. They each displayed wonderful humour.  Jen is of course the most expressive with subtlely outrageous statements about her mother, food, and her writing habits.  Ling Zhang is the most melodramatic, in a classic Chinese self-denying sort of way, while she claims she doesn't want her writing to be so melodramatic.  Kevin Chong is straight-ahead deadpan humour with insightful observations.

Festival organizer Hal Wake titled this event “Bamboo Letters” because author Kevin Chong is reported to have said he would never want to have “bamboo lettering” on the cover of one of his books.  And so this is the situation posed by moderator Catherine Gretzinger: “Three authors, who could be labelled “Chinese Canadian” if you were keen
to apply labels, talk about the tension between avoiding your heritage
and embracing your heritage.”

Chong admitted that he never really wanted to originally be a classic style “Asian-Canadian writer”, since he came to Canada in the late '60s from Hong Kong with his parents.  And to some extent he has avoided the familiar storylines of head-tax survivors toiling in Chinatown for meagre salaries, and triumphantly integrating into Canadian society (or not) in spite of racism.  Chong instead has opted to write a different kind of Asian Canadian character for his new novel “Beauty and Pity” that is about a post-1967 post-modern immigrant-slacker.  But it is still an update of the clash of generations and how the character must reconcile an Asian-Canadian identity for himself.  I bought “Beauty Plus Pity” at the Word On The Street Festival, because I arrived late (due to a previous engagement) at Chong's book launch held at The Penthouse Nightclub, because I was too busy chatting with others when they packed up the books for sale.

Jen Sookfong Lee is a familiar voice on CBC Radio with her “West Coast Words” segment for “On The Coast”.  She has revealed previously little known characters from Asian Vancouver for her latest novel “The Better Mother”.  Set during the 1980's, Danny is a gay Asian, who recalls meeting characters from Chinatown's burlesque era in the late 1950's.  It is a rich juicy setting that juxtaposes taboo subjects for conservative immigrant families, and Lee's attention to details makes for a colourful read.  I really like this book – but I keep borrowing it repeatedly from the library, because I have been too busy to sit down and read anything… so I keep renewing it and renewing it…and re-reading the beginning chapters because they are so re-readable!

Ling Zhang is an unknown quality.  She has written 5 books, but nobody in Canada has really read any of them, because they were all published in China and only available in Chinese…. until now.  Zhang's newest novel is Gold Mountain Blues, translated from the Chinese publication because Zhang writes in Chinese.  She has written an epic novel spanning 150 years of Chinese Canadian history, 5 generations of a family, detailing the struggles of early Chinese pioneers coming to Canada to work on the the Canadian Pacific Railroad and integrated into the Canadian cultural mosaic.  It is interesting that Zhang is in some sense a recent immigrant, arriving in Canada in 1986 – part of the most recent wave of Mandarin speaking Chinese immigrants whose growing numbers now outnumber the Cantonese speakers of earlier immigration periods.  It is yet a new kind of Chinese-Canadian identity, that has arrived prosperous and assured, without the burden of decades of negative self-identity imposed by decades of systemic racism in Canada caused by Colonial racist superiority, head tax policies (1885-1923), The Chinese Exclusion Act (1923-1947), and limited immigration policies (1947-1967).

Unfamiliar with Zhang's work, and unavailable at the Vancouver Public Library, I googled her name and was surprise to discover that there were numerous news articles concerning the possible plagiarism of her new book, from the works of Asian Canadian literary icons Paul Yee, SKY Lee and Wayson Choy.  In her defense, she stated in The National PostGold Mountain Blues is the result of years of research and
several field trips to China and Western Canada. The research data
obtained over the years is voluminous enough to allow me to write
another complete novel if I chose to. A hundred and fifty years of
Chinese Canadian history is a “common wealth” for all of us to share and
discover. I have not read The Jade Peony, Disappearing Moon Cafe, The Bone Collector’s Son or Tales from Gold Mountain.  Zhang has also said in the Calgary Herald that “I am quite ignorant about what’s going on in the Canadian literary circles,” she says. “This is why it’s so outrageous . . . ‘Excuse me, no
offence to you, but I haven’t read your book. Not because you’re not
great, but because I have been writing in Chinese all the last 13
years.’”

Maybe these issues of different conceptualizations of Chinese Canadian identity is reflected in the author's own experiences of being Chinese Canadian. Over 150 years of immigration, under different circumstances has produced different experiences.  Lee's ancestors probably left China when it was still the Qing Empire of the Last Emperor Pu-Yi, Chong's family possibly left Mainland China for Hong Kong while it was a Republic under Chiang Kai Shek or soon after, and Zhang came to Canada long after Mao had led the Communist Party to power.

Is it therefore possible to consider that there is a common Chinese Canadian literary identity? Is Zhang appropriating the pioneer Chinese Canadian culture and history to tell a universal story, similar to how WP Kinsella told the stories of his First Nations characters from a Reserve in Central Alberta?  Are Lee and Chong broadening the pantheon of Chinese-Canadian characters with their stories?  Or are they still all writing the universal story of identity struggle and reconciliation – but with new settings and and characters.

Unfortunately these questions never really came up.  Discussion topics dwelled on the joys and pitfalls of dealing with editors, agents and publishers, as well as finding their characters. Jen emphasized that the burlesque dancers of Chinatown have never been written about before.  Zhang said that she found her inspiration for her novel by visiting a grave site for Chinese pioneer workers outside of Calgary.   

But the audience had great fun in hearing that the one major common element in each of the passages read by the authors was “food”.   Maybe the moral of this literary question is simply that EVERYBODY LIKES CHINESE FOOD!

See my pictures from the event:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/53803790@N00/sets/72157627972649740/with/6279023738/

IMG_1567

Read more:

National Post: Ling Zhang addresses Gold Mountain Blues plagiarism allegations

Calgary Herarld: The hard road to Zhang's Gold Mountain

Early media stories on Hapa Palooza – we got a buzz!

Early media stories on Hapa Palooza

– we got a buzz!

Hapa-Palooza challenges mixed-race stereotypes

Vancouver Sun – Vivian Luk – ‎Sep 7, 2011
The nickname Super Nip – partly derived from a Second World War term to
describe Japanese people – and racial jokes followed Jeff Chiba Stearns
everywhere when he was growing up in Kelowna.

Hapa-Palooza showcases Vancouver's 125 years of cultural passion

The Province – Tom Harrison – ‎Sep 7, 2011‎
This is especially true of Vancouver, where just boarding a SkyTrain is
a multi-cultural experience, or walking the streets can be an
eye-opening exercise in cultural diversity and acceptance.

Hapa-Palooza revels in fest of ethnic mashups

Straight.com – Jessica Werb – ‎14 hours ago‎
Here's to mixed heritage: circus artist Chris Murdoch will be among the
performers at the Hapa-Palooza event's wildly diverse Friday cabaret
night. Growing up, Zarah Martz never felt like she fully belonged.

Hapa-palooza hype builds, but will it deliver?

Open File – Meghan Mast – ‎Sep 6, 2011‎
It wasn't until this year, at age 56, that Jonina Kirton connected her
story with that of other mixed-race women. “I hadn't really put two and
two together that someone else could have almost the same experience as I
had,” says Kirton, who identifies

The Georgia Straight presents Hapa-Palooza

Straight.com – staff –  ‎Sep 6, 2011‎
Hapa is a Hawaiian word to describe someone of mixed heritage from
islands in the Pacific Ocean. And in recent years, it has gone on to
become a term to describe people of multiple ethnicities from around the
world. The following night in the same room

Interracial identities part of the mix at Hapapalooza Festival's Mixed

Straight.com – Craig Takeuchi – Sep 5, 2011

Interracial identities part of the mix at Hapa-palooza Festival's Mixed Flicks Anyways?” are part of the Mixed Flicks program at Hapa-palooza.

Check out the Hapa-Palooza Festival – featuring Mixed Race artists

Hapa-palooza Festival: September 7-10, 2011
A Vancouver Celebration of Mixed-Roots Arts + Ideas

http://hapapalooza.ca/

This is an exciting idea whose time has come.  The seeds were planted at the 2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner – which featured Hapa-Canadians Jeff Chiba Stearns, Jocelyn Pettit, Patrick Gallagher, and Jenna Chow as artists and co-hosts.

Following the end of the last singalong to Auld Lang Syne, some of our performers and organizers met and discussed the idea of a Hapa-oriented festival or event.   ACWW directors Anna Ling Kaye and Tetsuro Shigematsu (co-host for the evening) were very enthusiastic. 

It was Anna who followed up on the idea and quickly arranged a meeting with Jeff Chiba Stearns.  Zarah helped her as they made an application for Vancouver 125 funding.  I am very pleased that many of the performers featured have also been featured at past Gung Haggis Fat Choy events such as poet Fred Wah, fiddler Jocelyn Pettit and film makers Jeff Chiba Stearns and Ann Marie Fleming.


Wednesday, September 7th, 7:00 –
8:30pm
Location: Alice McKay Room
Vancouver Public Library Central Branch

MIXED VOICES RAISED

Writers, poets and spoken-word artists in dialogue!
FREE EVENT


Thursday, September 8th, 7:00 –
9:00pm
Location: Alice McKay Room
Vancouver Public Library Central Branch
MIXED FLICKS

Explorations of mixed identity in film with mixed actors panel and film
screenings with Q&A from the filmmakers!
FREE EVENT


Friday, September 9th, 7:00 –
10:00pm
Location: Roundhouse Performance Space
THE SIR JAMES DOUGLAS MIX-A-LOT CABARET

A delightful evening of mixed entertainment and celebration!
TICKETED EVENT
* tickets available at hapapalooza.com


Saturday, September 10th
Location: Robson Square
HAPA-PALOOZA IN THE SQUARE

FREE EVENT

12:30-7pm
ART EXHIBITION and COMMUNITY FAIR
Installations by mixed artists and booths from community partners and
related causes.

12:30 to 2:45pm
YOUTH STAGE

Amazing performances by mixed talent of the future!

3:30pm to 7:00pm
GRAND FINALE STAGE

Prepare to be blown away by Vancouver’s incredible mixed talent!

“To Be defined as Chinese or not to be Chinese?” Is this the question? CNN's Jane Leung writes an article.

Jane Leung: Tired of not being 'Chinese enough'

A Canadian-Chinese stakes her claim on the native land
Defining one's identity is an important part of maturity.  It becomes complicated when racial identity is also a part of that.  Jane Leung writes an interesting article about her perspective of being told she's “not Chinese enough” as well as being defined as “Chinese” by mainstream society. 

Having moved to Hong Kong, after growing up in Canada.  She finds other Chinese people thinking of her as “second class” because she doesn't speak Chinese or know about about Chinese culture and history?  How could she if she is technically an immigrant from Canada?

I spent 6 weeks in Taiwan, at age 20, learning the Mandarin language (my parents spoke Cantonese, because their ancestors had come from Guangzhou (Canton) province, then I traveled to Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea.  In 1993, I traveled 2 weeks in Beijing and Xi'an.  Like Leung, people asked me “You look Chinese. Why you don't speak Chinese?” 

In their perspective of the world, from the ethnocentric Middle Kingdom, being Chinese meant looking Chinese AND speaking Chinese. If you couldn't speak Chinese, you were basically regarded as stupid – even if you were technically a Canadian and very smart in Canadian culture.  But imagine what life is like for Chinese immigrants to Canada… if they can't speak English, they are similarly regarded as less equal.

Being “Chinese” is a spectrum, and a social construct. It means different things in Hong Kong, China, Halifax or Richmond BC, or Alberta. But Chinese emigration experiences to Canada, Australia, South Africa, and elsewhere all have similar experiences.  It all depends on context. Jane Leung is on the right path.  Define yourself, and don't let “others” define you.

This is why other definitions of “Chinese-ness”
are used in Canada, such as Canadian-Chinese or Chinese-Canadian, or
Canadian born Chinese-Canadian. It all depends on context. Last year on
the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat, we had paddlers
of Chinese ancestry who had been born in South Africa, Scotland, Italy,
Malaysia, Beijing, Hong Kong, Canada and Alberta… and everybody
thought it was very cool. Diversity or mono-culture tunnel vision?
Definitely the global perspective is on the rise, to include Chinese
emigration patterns around the world, something that Scotland National
Museum already does.

Every immigrant group to North America and
elsewhere goes through a similar identity shift, whether they are Irish, Scots, African, South Asian, Vietnamese or even Greek. I remember watching the movie
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding” with a friend born and raised in Hong Kong.
Throughout the movie, she
kept elbowing me and saying “Ai-Yah! Just like Chinese!”

Even ex-pat Brits returning
to England after time spent in colonies had to endure derision, but it
is no where the same amount when language skills are involved.
Canadians born and raised with Chinese ancestry, are often called
“jook-sing” (hollow bamboo) by their immigrant counterparts, or
“bananas” (yellow on the outside and white on the inside”. Of course
this counteracts the names of “FOB” or “Honger” by “CBC”ers (Canadian
Born Chinese). Leung hits it on the head when she writes “For locals
who can’t adapt to multiculturalism accepted in other countries, the
only way they think they can tangibly confront this issue is by picking
on what they believe is the living embodiment of something they fear:
Westernized Chinese kids.”

Read Jane Leung's article here:

http://www.cnngo.com/hong-kong/life/jane-leung-banana-speaks-out-382737
Jane Leung“Banana’s here! Poor thing. Illiterate and can’t speak properly.”

This was not the welcome I expected from family friends when I arrived
in Hong Kong from Canada. I had grown up as the token Asian, but now I
had become the token white girl, a.k.a. the “gwai mui.”

I am Chinese. I look Chinese. I was born in Hong Kong.

I
have had Confucian principles bred into me from birth. I put career and
good grades above life itself and believe that whatever I can’t achieve
through talent I can make happen through hard work and self-discipline.

Yet, if I listen to friends and family here in Hong Kong, I am no more Chinese than lemon chicken.

I was raised in a Western community in Canada and speak basic Cantonese,
but can’t read or write it, which apparently means I am a sell-out, a
banana (yellow on the outside, white on the inside) with no right to
associate with locals or their higher Chinese values.

It is apparent to me that some Chinese feel “more Chinese,” thus superior to those who aren’t fluent in the language.

It's officially (finally) Tartan Day in Canada

It's officially Tartan Day in Canada.

Canada finally has it's official Tartan Day, after all the provinces had previously proclaimed Tartan Day.  In 2008, I arranged to have Tartan Day proclaimed in the the City of Vancouver.


-photo courtesy of T.Wong

Xavier MacDonald, Todd Wong and Sean John Kingsley wear their tartans to the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team practice on April 6th, 2011, Tartan Day.

I also wore my kilt at the Vancouver 125 Celebrations where I was helping to supervise the ball hockey games at Jack Poole Plaza in the afternoon.  There was fresh snow on the mountains, so thank goodness it was warm in the sunshine.

Check out the different tartans of each province.  Personally, I like the Nova Scotia and Sasketchewan tartans… Something about the blues and yellows of each.  The BC tartan with its red and green looks too much like a Christmas decoration.
http://www.cassoc.ca/tartans.htm

An Intimate Evening with playwright Marty Chan @ Kogawa House

Time
30 March · 19:30 21:00

Location
Historic Joy Kogawa House

Created by:

More info
In
his role as Canadian playwright, radio writer, television story editor,
and young adult author, Marty Chan explores the tensions between
opposing forces of assimilation and the search for heritage and cultural
roots.

His new play, The Forbidden Phoenix, combines adventure,
martial arts, and the coolest 10-piece orchestra you’ve ever seen, in an
eye-popping musical that tells the story of a father who comes to
Canada looking for a better life. High drama and visual spectacle
combine for a unique evening of family entertainment. Performed in
English with Chinese surtitles.

Please join us in the living room
of Historic Joy Kogawa House, childhood home of the author Joy Kogawa,
for a rare opportunity to sit with this master author and indulge in the
art of his smooth prose.

Ticket price $65
Includes admission to any production of The Forbidden Phoenix, running April 7 to 23, at Richmond’s Gateway Theatre.

To purchase tickets, email kogawahouse@yahoo.ca

This
will be brilliant…. Marty is entertaining and very funny. He is the
playwright of “Mom, Dad, I'm Living With a White Girl.” I have been
waiting years for a story about Monkey King comes to Canada…. this is
it! Tickets to Kogawa House exclusive event include tickets to the
Forbidden Phoenix play at Gateway Theatre…. I am honoured to moderate
and host, Cheers, Todd


Montreal Gazette: Maple Leaf Tartan made official symbol of Canada

I like the Maple Leaf Tartan kilt….

It was the first polyviscous kilt I had made, with each of the colours of the maple leaf interwoven in green, golden yellow and red.  I would wear it on Canada Day, and to the Order of Canada luncheons organized by the Canadian Club Vancouver.

Now… the Canadian Government… has made the unofficial symbol of Canada into an official symbol of Canada.  Last year they recognized Tartan Day, to help celebrate Scottish heritage in Canada – this year they recognize the Maple Leaf tartan as an official symbol of Canada.

Read the Montreal Gazette story below. 

Maple Leaf Tartan made official symbol of
Canada

The Maple Leaf Tartan, inspired by the shifting hues of autumn 
leaves, was announced Wednesday to have become Canada's national tartan 
and also an “official symbol” of the nation itself.
 

The
Maple Leaf Tartan, inspired by the shifting hues of autumn leaves, was
announced Wednesday to have become Canada's national tartan and also an
“official symbol” of the nation itself.

Photograph
by:
Julie Oliver, Ottawa Citizen

The Canadian government has pre-empted a Liberal senator's
crusade to have Maple Leaf Tartan declared the country's official
Scottish cloth, announcing Wednesday that the distinctive green-and-red
pattern — inspired by the shifting hues of autumn leaves — has not only
been made the national tartan but also an “official symbol” of the
nation itself.

The designation means the tartan — designed
in 1964 by Toronto garment maker David Weiser ahead of Canada's
centennial celebrations — will join the flag, the coat of arms, the
beaver and a handful of other objects as state-sanctioned emblems of
Canada, according to a statement issued by Heritage Minister James
Moore.

“The Maple Leaf Tartan has been worn proudly and
enjoyed by Canadians for decades, but has never been elevated to the
level of an official symbol — until now,” said Moore. “Our national
symbols express our identity and define our history. The Maple Leaf
Tartan represents the contributions that the more than four million
Canadians of Scottish heritage continue to make to our country.”

The
Conservative government's declaration comes less than a week after
Liberal Senator Elizabeth Hubley, of P.E.I., gave a speech urging
support for her proposed legislation, Bill S-226, to make Maple Leaf
Tartan the official national tartan.

“The Maple Leaf Tartan
has been Canada's unofficial national tartan for many years,” she said
last Thursday. “It is time to recognize the rich contribution Canadians
of Scottish descent have made to this country by adopting a national
tartan for Canada, which can be worn by every Canadian, regardless of
their ancestry, as a symbol of national pride.”

Hubley's
office initially expressed “shock” at Wednesday's announcement. And in
comments to Postmedia News following the government's statement, Hubley
pointed to “eerie similarities” between Moore's declaration and her own
expressions of support for the Maple Leaf Tartan last week in the
Senate.

“I am pleased the government has been listening,”
she said. “And if you read the wording of the press release, there are
eerie similarities to my second-reading speech from last Thursday.”

She
also raised doubts about whether a simple announcement from the
government had the weight of legislation — duly passed by Parliament —
to declare the Maple Leaf Tartan an official emblem of Canada. “A press
release from a cabinet minister is not sufficient to create a national
symbol.”

Wednesday's announcement by the government made no
mention of Hubley's bill, but included comments from Conservative
Senator John Wallace, of New Brunswick, who recently spearheaded an
effort to have the government formally recognize April 6 as National
Tartan Day.

“The tartan is one of the most visual
expressions of Scottish heritage and culture,” Wallace said in
Wednesday's statement. “Making the Maple Leaf Tartan an official symbol
of Canada highlights the many significant contributions that people of
Scottish heritage have made to the founding of Canada.”

While
the Maple Leaf Tartan appears to have become an unexpected symbol of
political partisanship, both the Liberals and Conservatives do have
legitimate prior claims to being champions of the patriotic plaid.

In
2006, former Liberal MP John Matheson — a key player in the political
battle that led to the adoption of Canada's Maple Leaf flag in 1965 —
urged that the government adopt a national tartan as a readily
recognized “signal” to be displayed by Canadians of all ethnic stripes
to show that they “care about a united Canada.”

In 2008,
Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney (who has since added immigration
to his cabinet portfolio) announced that he had officially registered
the Maple Leaf Tartan with the Scottish Tartan Authority in Edinburgh to
secure exclusive rights for the pattern for the Canadian government.

“The
Government of Canada recognizes the many ways in which Scottish culture
and tradition have contributed to the strength of our communities,”
Kenney said at the time. “Scottish tartans are a wonderful symbol of
cohesion: each plaid, with its blend of different colours and patterns
represents a family, a region, an organization, or a nation.”

In
2006, after Matheson had launched his campaign for a national tartan,
the Globe and Mail reported that documents released under Access to
Information showed federal Heritage officials were giving the proposal
serious consideration.

One memo noted that Weiser's Maple
Leaf Tartan had been “greeted with wide acclaim” in the 1960s and was
already considered an unofficial national tartan by many Canadians.

Briefing
notes indicated that “the use of tartan by non-Scottish or Celtic
peoples has dramatically expanded around the world” and reflected a
“more multicultural reality.”

But the documents also
contained a caution that “the notion of a national tartan might have
little resonance with Canada's multicultural communities, given its
traditional association with Scottish and British heritage.”

According
to the website of Canadian Heritage, 11 of the 13 provinces and
territories have their own official tartans, while Quebec has popular
design that is widely — though unofficially — used to symbolize the
province. Nunavut is not mentioned on the site.

The
Canadian government also recognizes the maple tree as the country's
“national arboreal emblem,” the beaver as its official animal symbol and
red and white as Canada's official colours.

One year ago… I was paddling a dragon boat flotilla to accompany the

One year ago…  An Olympic flame was carried by an Italian-South Asian-Canadian Olympic kayaker on False Creek…..

and I was paddling in the accompanying flotilla from the dragon boat and outrigger canoe community.

photo
Olympic gold medalist canoeist Hugh Fisher carries the Olympic Flame, along Granville Island.  Hugh helped to found the False Creek Racing Canoe Club for the inaugural Vancouver dragon boat races in 1986, held during Expo 86.

photo

The Olympic torch has been passed – to Kamini Jain, Olympic kayaker @ 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games, from Hugh Fisher, gold and bronze medalist paddler at 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. – photo Todd Wong.


We launched the 6 dragon boats and 6 outrigger canoes from Vanier Park, @ Kits Point, right beside the Coast Guard Station @ Burrard Marina.  I was lead stroke with Marina McCready, formerly of the False Creek Women's Team.

we were part of a flotilla of 6 dragon boats + 6 outrigger canoes,
that accompanied the torch bearers in a voyageur canoe and a dragon
boat = 140 dragon boat paddlers + 45 canoe paddlers = 185 paddlers + 2
torch bearers!

Hugh Fisher with his 1984 kayaking medaling partner Alwyn Morris.  Morris is Mohawk First Nations, and was a torch bearer on the Kahnawake Reserve outside of Montreal.  It was Morris, a full-blooded Mohawk who held up an eagle feather on the medal podium, after they received their gold medals for the Men's K-2 1,000m race at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Kamini took a picture with me and my friends Lisa and Gio – who was born in Italy!  Kamini was born in Tripoli, Libya, with South Asian and Italian ancestry.  Lisa and I are both multi-generation Canadians – she was born in Winnipeg, and I was born in Vancouver.

see more pictures on my Flickr account:

Feb 12 Dragon boat for Olympic Torch Relay

Feb 12 Dragon boat for Olympic…

149 photos, 3 videos
|
http://www.flickr.com/photos/53803790@N00/sets/72157623432548394/with/4354930022/

See last year's story:

http://www.gunghaggis.com/blog/_archives/2010/2/13/4455195.html

Shelagh Rogers interviews Ken McGoogan, author of How the Scots Invented Canada

Ken McGoogan is interviewed on CBC Radio's The Next Chapter by Shelagh Rogers.
– with a mention of Gung Haggis Fat Choy by Shelagh

How the Scots Invented Canada by Ken McGoogan

Note that the tartan featured is the Maple Leaf tartan, featuring the yellow, green and red colours of a changing maple leaf.

It's a lively interview that Shelagh has with Ken McGoogan.  Of particular interest, McGoogan talks about pluralism and how the Scots themselves are an ethnically diverse group,

Shelagh: “I want to get back to pluralism because i find this a very interesting impact of the Scots in Canada, the population has never exceeded 16% of the country.  What do you think it wa was it about the Scots and what they brought over that created this pluralistic vision.

Ken: “Yes, that's a wonderful question Shelagh, because and you;re quite right to focus on that  because that to me is one of the central  themes of the book, and probably my favorite theme that arises in the book, because I do see Canada as multicultural and multi-racial. And I do trace that back… on the pluralism of the Scots themselves.  It's also interesting, the Scots were, First of all, they felt they were underdogs in relation to the English, Scots have always felt that England has always treated Scots badly.  There always had been this undertone of tension in the Scots' feeling to be underdogs.  But at the same time, in addition to that feeling, it made them more empathetic to other peoples than they might otherwise have been.  You also have the Scots being well educated and highly literate much earlier than almost anywhere in Europe.”

And McGoogan talks about Robert Burns, and his influence in Canada.  He calls it “singular and amazing,” who there are Burns statues and influences in Canadian cities from Halifax to Victoria.


Check out the TNC Special Podcast – Ken McGoogan

Shelagh's special unabridged conversation with Ken McGoogan, author of “How the Scots Invented Canada”.

Right click to Download TNC Special Podcast – Ken McGoogan
[mp3 file: runs 34:53]

Go to 18:10 to listen to Shelagh Rogers tell Ken McGoogan about Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Here are some reviews of McGoogan's book and a link to his own web page.

  1. Ken McGoogan: HOME

    Ken McGoogan is the author of four Canadian bestsellers about the search for the Northwest in October 2010, will publish How the Scots Invented Canada.
    kenmcgoogan.blogspot.com/p/home.html – 

Paul Yee @ Vancouver Museum, Nov 18 book launch for “I am Canada: Blood and Iron”

Paul Yee launches his new children's fiction novel:  Blood and Iron – part of the “I Am Canada” young readers series from Scholastic.

7:00 to 8:30 PM FREE

Museum of Vancouver – Studio

1100 Chestnut Street
Vancouver, BC

Paul Yee reads and
discusses his latest book, I Am Canada: Blood and Iron, Building the
Railway.

I Am Canada: Blood and Iron, Heen, is written as a diary of a young Chinese teen who comes to Canada with his father to help build the CPR railway in the Fraser Canyon.

From a teenage perspective, it struggles with the sacrifices made by Chinese labourers, leaving behind loved ones in order to provide for their families in China, as well as staying alive during the dangerous work.  Family loyalty and responsibility is also an issue, as the teen grows into a young man.From 7:00 to 8:30 PM FREE

This event is co-presented by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society
and the Museum of Vancouver. I Am Canada: Blood and Iron will be
available for sale by Sitka Books & Art.

This is a fun easy read, which I quickly read over a few days.  The story is gripping and gives lots of information to the building of the CPR.  It made my summer time visit to Craigellachie, site of the Last Spike, even more insightful as I found information about the Chinese labourers not in the gift shop and book store, but only on pictures posted on the side of the building.  Racism is addressed in this book in a matter of fact educational manner.   It is funny to have the Scottish rail workers called “Red Beards”.