Category Archives: Canadian Identity

VAFF closes out with a Big Hapa feeling!

Jeff Chiba Stearns (far right) gives fist bumps to Todd Wong, Jason Karman and Julia Kwan.  Jeff's film “One Big Hapa Family” closed out the 14th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival

Film maker Angelina Cantado (centre) attended the screening of her film Sikat on Friday Night's program “Promised Lands“, which featured Phillipine-North American films. “Sikat” is a tender story about a Filipina domestic worker, who looks after the two children and does the laundry of a middle class Canadian family.  It is

Chinese Canadian WW2 veterans came on Sunday afternoon for the screening of Redress Remixed.  Left to right: Frank Wong, Tommy Wong, ??, Lesley Chan, Alec Louie, Todd Wong.  Frank Wong is interviewed in the movie, directed by Lesley Chan


Lt. Watada is a film about an US soldier who refused to go to deploy to Iraq, because he felt that
the war is illegal and a violation of his constitutional oath. “Watada described the war as illegal
and immoral and founded on deception. and offered twice to go to Afghanistan – a war he considered
legitimate – but his commanders said that granting such a request would
mean there was something wrong with the war in Iraq.” – This film screened on Saturday.

The buzz was big for the fully-packed theatre closing night screening of One Big Hapa Family, preceded by a short film titled
Ode to a Post-It Note, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the 3M invention.

VAFF 2010: Ode To A Post-It NoteFollowing One Big

“One Big Hapa Family” – new film by Jeff Chiba Stearns to close out VAFF

Hope you can come to VAFF for the 7pm show
Jeff Chiba Stearn's short
animated film “What Are You Anyways” was featured at the 2006 Gung
Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

Order your
tickets in advance – as it should be a sell-out!


4 | Program 15

Closing Night: One Big Hapa Family

Sun. Nov. 7th, 7:00 PM

Festival favourite Jeff Chiba
Stearns, an independent documentary and animation filmmaker born in
Kelowna, BC of both Japanese and European descent, explores the
complexity of family and heritage in this program. Stearns’ latest
feature film ONE BIG
themes of race and identity which are expressed through his unique
style of mixing traditional documentary footage with animation and
humour. Preceding ONE
Stearns’ whimsical short ODE
in which a
Post-it Note decides on Father’s Day to search for its roots.

Chiba Stearns

Jeff Chiba Stearns is an independent
documentary filmmaker and animator born in Kelowna, BC, of Japanese and
European heritage. After graduating from the Emily Carr Institute of Art
and Design with a Degree in Film Animation in 2001, he founded
Mediating Bunny Studio Inc., specializing in creating animation,
documentary, and experimental films aimed at children and adults that
combine different philosophical and social elements together to create
humorous, inspiring stories. His animated shorts, KIP
(2001), WHAT ARE
hve been the official selection of hundreds of film festivals around
the world, garnerered various awards and accolades, and broadcast on the
CBC, Discovery Latin
Shaw, Sundance
Channel, Movie Central, Air Canada and Movieola.

One Big Hapa Family

VAFF 2010: One 
Big Hapa Family
Director/Writer: Jeff Chiba Stearns | Producer:
Ruth Vincent
Documentary | HDCAM |
Colour |
2010 | 85 min |

After a realization at a family
reunion, half-Japanese Canadian filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns embarks on a
journey of self-discovery to find out why everyone
in his Japanese-Canadian family married interracially after his
grandparents’ generation.

This feature-length live action and
animated documentary explores why almost 100 per cent of
Japanese-Canadians are marrying interracially, the highest of any
ethnicity in Canada, and how their mixed children perceive their unique
multiracial identities.

The stories from four generations of a
Japanese-Canadian family come to life through the use of innovative
animation techniques created by some of Canada’s hottest independent
animators, including Louise Johnson, Ben Meinhardt, Todd Ramsay, Kunal
Sen and Jonathan Ng. ONE
challenges our perceptions of purity and makes us question if we are
approaching the end of multiculturalism as we know it.



OMNI TV (3 part

preceded by:

Ode To A Post-It Note

VAFF 2010: Ode To
 A Post-It Note

Director/Writer/Producer: Jeff Chiba Stearns
Animation | HDCAM |
Colour | 2010 |
5 min |

On a cluttered office desk plastered
with Post-it Note ‘to do’ lists, one little Post-it Note escapes on an
incredible journey of self-discovery to find its ‘father’.


Brendan Uegama's “Henry's Glasses” + new Ann Marie Fleming film show at VIFF

VIFF… Henry's
Glasses (about a young boy in a Japanese-Canadian Internment Camp)
+ I
Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors (directed by Ann Marie Fleming
creator of the The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam)
Monday 3:30pm Pacific

Henry's Glasses
Henry's Glasses


plays in Acquired Trait

Canadian Images

(Canada, 2010, 20 mins, HDCAM)

Directed By: Brendan Uegama

PRODS: Brendan Uegama, Nicole leier
SCR/CAM: Brendan Uegama
ED: Corey Ogilvie
MUS: Crispin Hands
CAST: Matthew Nomura, Walter Uegama, Marie Shimizu, Moe Yang, Miyou Shimoshige, Kevan Ohtsji
In a Japanese-Canadian internment camp a young boy must use the power
of his imagination to escape reality and help his elderly new friend.

I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors
I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors


plays with Henry's Glasses

Canadian Images

(Canada, 2010, 16 mins, 35mm)

Directed By: Ann Marie Fleming

PROD: Gerry Flahive, Michael Fukushima
SCR: Ann Marie Fleming
EDS: Ileana Pietrobruno, Ann Marie Fleming
MUS: Normand Roger, Denis Chartrand, Pierre Yves Drapeau

An adaptation of the acclaimed memoir of the same name, this inventive
animation weaves together a political and personal history using the
healing power of humour

New Chinese-Canadian History website launched in Toronto

New Chinese Canadian History website launched in Toronto.

Here's a message from my contact Brad Lee

I'd like
to invite you to take a look at our website, The Ties That Bind:
Building the CPR, Building a Place in Canada,, which was launched on
The url is:;
received some very good press, listed below. The Vancouver Sun was
particularly good.

Best, Brad–online-exhibit-recounts-history-of-chinese-canadian-railway-workers

Toddish McWong goes to Squamish Nation Pow Wow

Toddish McWong takes his kilt to
Squamish Nation Pow Wow

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 136 by you.
Here I am trying to learn a simple First Nations dance step from my 2nd cousin Shelley on my right, as we dance in the closing event at the 23rd Annual Squamish Nation Pow Wow.

I had never been to a First Nations Pow Wow before, so when my 2nd cousin Shelley sent me a Facebook message about the 23rd Annual Squamish Nation Pow Wow, and that she was going to watch her nieces compete in dance competition, I knew I had to be there.

The event was held at X̱wemelch'stn Park, also known as the Capilano Indian Reserve near the South end of Capilano Road in North Vancouver.  I had grown up in North Vancouver since I was 14 years old, and have driven through the reserve many times going to Park Royal.  I had only once before attended and event at the Capilano Longhouse once before in 1990, when the Squamish Nation presented David Suzuki with an eagle feather.  Soon after, I visited Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) where I met carver Claude Davidson, father of renowned artist Robert Davidson, and also traveled to the ancient village site of Skedans.

When I was about 7 years old, my favorite book was titled “Indian Lore and Craft”, I became enamored of creating buckskin clothes, moccasins, face paint, bows and arrows and other accessories.  But I never followed up.

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 135
Here I am with my cousin Shelley Ferguson. 

Shelley's mother is Rhonda Larrabee is Chief of Qayqayt First Nations, and the subject of the NFB documentary Tribe of One.  I have often written about Rhonda and her courage to re-establish the Qayqayt First Nations in New Westminster.

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 108
Shelley's nieces danced in the “jingle dance” competition.
Latisha is on the left in blue and Alyssa is
in the middle in red. They both have been the Squamish Nation
Princesses. 🙂

I found lots of aspects of interculturalism happening at the Pow Wow:
Click on each of the pictures for an enlargement on my Flickr account.

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 004
Here is a Japanese parasol being carried by one of the child dancers to keep the sun off.

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 033
The dancer on the left wears an RCMP serge tunic combined with leggings from an old Hudson's Bay Company blanket – very vintage.  The dancer on the right has combined a red/green tartan cloth in both his hat and rustle.

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 083
These dancers' costumes are made from very colourful designs that resembled Tibetan designs.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the event:

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 079
This is the “Potato Dance Special” – you have to hold a potato between your forehead and your partner's.  Then you are asked to keep doing dance movements, or lift your hands or feet into the air, or even jump!  Last couple with a potato between their heads wins!

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 040

This young dancer is waiting for the Fancy Shawl dancer to begin

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 055

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 054

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 119

Male traditional dance

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 122
I love the expressions on these dancers with their painted faces.  They are plains Indians.

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 118

Detail of a Rustle with eagle feathers.

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 115

Salmon dinner with traditional baked salmon, bannock and

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 028
Here is a video of two of my favorite male dancers at the event.  The dancer with the Purple top, has a green & crimson red tartan as a loin cloth and also on his hat.  The dancer with the eagle head mask is wearing a vintage RCMP red serge tunic with HBC blanket leggings.  Watch the background for a female dancer in a red & black jingle dance costume – that's the niece of my cousin Shelley.  At the end of the video, watch for a young boy in a white tunic with a yellow porcupine headdress with 2 eagle feathers – pretty intense performance, eh?

2010_July_Capilano_PowWow 130
This video is a very intense… This is the two finalists for senior male fancy dance.  It was a great way for the dance competitions to end!

Happy Canada Day! Joceylyn Petit… Scottish-Chinese-Canadian fiddle player!

Happy Canada Day!

am listening to the cd music of 15 year old
half-Chinese/half-Scottish 100% Canadian fiddle player Jocelyn
Perfect for the recognition of Pioneer Chinese
and Scots who helped to build British Columbia.


I had the pleasure of meeting Jocelyn and her mother Siew, at the BC Highland Games last Saturday. 

I had written:

Hello Jocelyn
and Siew. I am really enjoying listening to Jocelyn's cd. I can
hearing some good fiddle music at the games, looked over at the stage,
didn't see my Blackthorn friends… but a small trio or so. I love
sound on the cd. I cranked it up in the car.

Great that you have been on CBC Early Edition with Rick Cluff.
But I
think Sheryl McKay's North By Northwest – would be perfect for you.
I have
played my accordion with Blackthorn, and the Chinese-fusion group Silk
Music Ensemble. Hopefully one day, we can have you perform at my Gung
Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

We have spun off a CBC
Television performance special back in 2004, and I hope that it can be
expanded for the future. I can be seen playing my accordion in the CBC
documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy – about my
and the contributions that his subsequent descendants have made to
society. I
would like to purchase additional cd's to give out as gifts. I
will write
up a review of the cd within the week. Please let me know when you are
in the Vancouver area, and I will blog the events.

Cheers, Todd Wong

Her father replied:

Hello Todd,
Thank you very much for your very nice
message.  We really appreciate your kind words!  I wish I had the
chance to meet you at the recent BC Highland Games and Scottish
Festival, as my
daughter, Jocelyn, and wife, Siew, were delighted to talk with you.  You
have accomplished great achievements with your music performances, work
CBC, and special events production!  Bravo for such fascinating and
remarkable work!  We are keen to know more and participate!
Thank you for enjoying our music at the
BC Highland
Games & Scottish Festival, as well as on our recent debut CD.  At
Games, we performed a short set and came ready for much more, in case
allowed.  We were excited to perform with our newly-joined pipes player
(small/bellow pipes), and we had our guitar player as well (but no cello
for this show).  The CD shows the diversity and versatility of Jocelyn's
music.  Her original compositions are complex and beautifully layered in
sound texture, her arrangements of contemporary and traditional tunes
are fresh
and delightful, and her choice of tunes and melodies is interesting and
engaging.  Of course, I am a very proud dad, but far beyond my word, she
widely receiving praise for her ideas, innovation, and skills
(especially for
her young age).
Thank you for the ideas you have
mentioned –
preceding our (sold-out) North Vancouver CD Release Concert (Shaw
Sheryl McKay was kind enough to play Jocelyn's “Morning Glory” on her
show.  It was very much appreciated – Jocelyn is committed to making
her career, and along the way we learn of the many career-path
challenges (such as gaining recognition and opportunities, with
predominantly instrumental world/folk music).  Definitely, thank you for
your ideas!
Thank you for writing up a review of
CD!  That is really excellent!  We are very appreciative of the word
getting out there, of Jocelyn's music and her music gift of exceptional
Thank you also for wanting to purchase
CDs.  This can be done at


We hope to see you soon!

Open House Canada Day at sites for The Land Conservancy of BC

The Land Conservancy of BC is hosting Canada Day events at some of his historic and important sites throughout BC.

Here is a list of events created by TLC Director of Operations Kathleen Shepherd.  I am on the board of TLC and have been involved with TLC, since they stepped in to partner with the Save Kogawa House campaign in 2005.

The Gorge Canada Day Picnic will include
Craigflower along with
other great things to do (and I’m sure, things to eat).

BC Binning House will be hosting their 2nd
Canada Day Open House:

For those in the Kootenays, TLC’s Associated Site,
SS Moyie will host Canada Day celebrations:

While not quite on Canada Day, Keating will open
for summer
teas on Sunday:

Abkhazi, Wildwood and Potholes are also open for
regular hours, check the TLC website for more information.

Happy Canada Day!

VACT's Etch-YOUR-SketchOFF2?#$% now features friendly rivalries

Asians are talented in sketch comedy too!

I chatted with VACT's founding creator Joyce Lam last week.  There is big drama for this year's Etch-YOUR-SketchOFF2!#$%.  One of last year's comedy sketch teams has split into two new teams for 2010.  That's right… dramedy is happening!  Members of last year's Darin' Joes, have formed new teams.  Fane Tse has helped to form new team Angry Asian Men. Josette Jorge was also with Darin' Joes last year but has returned to SFUU Man Chu.

Will there be a comedic show down?

Other teams competing are: Beef Noodle Soup, Laughing Make Mind Dangerous, Banana Drama, Asians Bleed Red, The Yangzters.

Of special note: Tricia Collins is performing with SFUU MAN CHU.  Tricia co-hosted the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner with me.  She is one of my favorite Vancouver actresses – having performed in her solo show Gravity, as well as Firehall Theatre's Ecstasy of Rita Joe and Urban Ink Production's Hunted.  She is also a writer, contributing to Ricepaper Magazine and Completely Mixed Up: An Asian North American Mixed Race Anthology.

35 performers will be on stage.  Mostly Asians with some members of non-Asian minority groups, representing token inclusivity and plain old friendship between races.

Check out the VACT website:

Etch Your SketchOff 2 Logo

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 – Vancouver Rice Bowl Competition
Thursday, April 29, 2010 – People’s CHOYS Award
Nightly at 7:30 PM

Buy your tickets online now!

Tickets are $15 each!

Buy Group Rate tickets online now!

Be a Friend of VACT

Wed Apr 21, 03:15 PM by editor

those who have enjoyed our shows and want to support us financially –
we are recognizing our fans with special benefits.  Depending on your
friendship level, you will receive premium reserved seating upgrades,
recognition in the programs, opening night tickets and invitations to
cast parties, signed productions posters and special concierge
ticketing services & privileges.  Our way of saying thank you to

For more details, click here.

Ali & Ali 7: RCMP, Immigration and tasers – Oh My!

Ali & Ali 7 Return to the stage for another outrageous skewering of Canadian Multiculturalism

Created and performed by Camyar Chai, Guillermo Verdecchia and Marcus Youssef
Co-starring Laara Sadiq and Raugi Yu
Directed by Guillermo Verdecchia

at the Cultch’s Historic Theatre
Apr 14–24
Tickets for Cultch Performances available at 604-251-1363 or

at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts’ Studio Theatre
April 28 – May 1
Tickets for Shadbolt performances at 604-205-3000 or

Ali & Ali are to Canadian multiculturalism what Wayne & Shuster
are to Canadian culture.  They poke fun at ourselves, to help us laugh
at the absurdity of our history and culture.

But in today's world, Wayne & Shuster, comedy kings of the 1960's and 1970's, have given way to Kids from the Hall, and Russell Peters.  Canadian culture is no longer white and red, our cultural diversity includes black and yellow and pink and especially brown.  Canadians also come from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Azerbaijian.  Wayne & Shuster used to make fun of foreign accents.  Camyar Chai and Marcus Youssef as brown immigrant refugees from the fictional country of Agraba, take ethnic jokes to a whole different level – but with some very serious political commentary.

was my first time at Ali & Ali. I really enjoyed reading the
published play Ali & Ali and the Axes of Evil.  I couldn't stop laughing at some of the bits about Asian Heritage Month, and the Scottish stage manager.  For the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner, I had invited Marcus Youssef to read/perform an excerpt with comedian Charles Demers.  So I wasn't going to miss them.

The show opens with a montage of  current world leaders from Libya, USA, and Canada.  It's a tribute rap to Moammar Gadhafi.  Wow… we are definitely in a different cultural perspective here.  The play is interactive with the audience, asking questions, getting responses.  Surprise!  They are spoofing and utilizing experimental theatre audience participation as well as Bertolt Brecht's agitprop theatre.

Ali & Ali are presenting a show to the audience.  They introduce their assistant as Yogi Ru, in actuality Vancouver actor Raugi Yu.  Raugi is the straight man to this zany duo, even dressing up as Obama's Portuguese Water Dog. 

Along the way, an ethnic South Asian RCMP officer (Laara Sadiq) appears, to charge
Ali & Ali with illegal immigration to Canada.  A kangaroo court (or
would it be a “moose court” in Canada?) ensues and Ali & Ali must
defend and explain themselves. This is where the character of Raugi steps up as an interpreter to
explain the actions of Ali & Ali to the RCMP officer.  But true to
Ali & Ali interpretation and misinterpretion, as Canadian
sacred institutions
such as the RCMP are poked with scenarios including tasers and cultural sensitivity
training. Broad outrageous humour got loud laffs from the audience –
especially the puppet show!

Ali & Ali poke some fun at Barak Obama's New
World Order. The puppet show took on a weird outrageous vibe, as talking heads of Afro-American movement cultural icons, criticize Obama policies in the White House.  It would have been nice if they had been able to identify who their “Jiminy Cricket” conscience guides were, as many audience members are probably not versed in Afro-American revolutionaries such as Malcolm X and Angela Davis.  

Some serious topics are addressed such as
prison detention & torture, illegal immigration and deportation.  This show uses the slap stick humour to set up and explain the underlying social commentary.  How does a normal human being cope with being detained in prison on unspecific charges?  The balance between the serious and absurdist swings back and forth, eliciting emotional reactions from the audience.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  There are many in-jokes, dependent upon the audience's knowledge of many things.  It is like a television channel-flipping barrage of issues.  But the play succeeds in informing the audience about our country's detention of prisoners, and it creating new cultural perspectives of multiculturalism.  Sometimes, how you see the world really does depend on what colour your eyes are.

Definitely not for everybody – but neither was Monty Python or Wayne & Shuster.

Check out the Neworld website: