Category Archives: Canadian Identity

More media stories about “lack of colour (and bagpipes)” in Vancouver 2010 Opening ceremonies

Stories critical of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies are in Vancouver Courier and Georgia Straight blogs.

Vancouver Courier: Allen Garr's

Much is continuing to be written about the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremonies that took place with great hoop-lah on Friday February 12th, in BC Place Stadium.  Yes, there were the Four Host Nations welcoming the world to their ancestral (and unceded) lands.  Yes, there were Canadian Aboriginal peoples from all across the nation, dancing and drumming, while Bryan Adams and and Nelly Furtado took the spotlight and sang a new Adams' song “Beat the Drum.”

And then…. a show that has brought complaints from across the country, as Federal Minister James Moore has said “there wasn't enough French-Canadian content.”

Even Quebec Permier Jean Charest, as he sat next to
VANOC CEO John Furlong at a news conference Monday said, “Not at the level we were expecting,” said “It wasn’t

I admit that enjoyed watching the show. And my girlfriend and I watched
it twice… but we were also playing video and computer games during
the second time.

But we cannot ignore that so many people are
speaking out, and to so is to risk great peril. Clearly there is a
schism in the understanding of what make's us Canadian… as understood
by new immigrants of both Asian and Celtic origins, as well as
multi-generational Canadians of First Nations, Asian, Celtic, Gaelic,
British, French and European heritage.

Maybe like at Expo 67, we are discovering the point of how we see ourselves in the world, and in our own country.

especially liked Shane Koyczan's poem. He is indeed addressing the
values that push us to do better, to be more inclusive, and to always
try harder – just like my personal hero Terry Fox, who is very dear to
me, as I hold the SFU Terry Fox gold medal, as a recipient “for courage
in adversity and dedication to society.”

Remember what happened after the Closing Ceremonies in Turin?
Premier Gordon Campbell criticized Turin closing ceremony display by
saying, “I thought there were lots of stereotypes that are not what the
new Canada is.”

I too understand that we cannot please everybody all the time, and that
some cultural groups will cry foul. But my experiences are also tainted
by growing up in a deliberate exclusion of systemic racism, where my
born-in-Canada grandmother could not vote in this country until after
her brothers and cousin had been reluctantly accepted into the Canadian
Forces due to pressure from Great Britain, and then sent on “Suicide
Missions” to be behind enemy lines in Burma.

For these reasons
I knew it was important to help save Joy Kogawa's childhood home from
demolition, where she was forced to leave at age 6 due to internment of

For these reasons, I know it is important
to support my cousin Chief Rhonda Larrabee whose mother's people had
their ancestral lands taken away from them, to create BC's first
capital city of New Westminster. And then to add insult, had their
reservation taken away, and their band name of Qayqayt was said to not
exist, because the people didn't live there anymore.

If we don't
speak out on these issues, now – then it is like the silence that
watches the Japanese Canadians put on trains and sent away, or like
knowing that First Nations children are in Residential schools. We know
something is wrong, but dare not speak.

I have tried to embrace
this country and it's foibles, despite hating the bagpipes when I was
little because it represented Colonialism. I speak better french, then
I do Chinese.

I understand the the Ceremonies wanted to emphasize “The Land” rather than the cultural diversity.  Even Margaret Atwood's great book “Survival” argues that there is indeed a distinct Canadian literature, with its own preoccupations, themes, and ideas specific to its history, geopolitics, and landscape.

But that was so 20th Century… Now in the 21st Century, it is about the geopolitics, our cultural diversity, and our place in the global world.

Yes John Furlong has done and amazing job with
VANOC. It is a very challenging, almost impossible task – But John
Furlong's terrible french pronounciation seems to be an apt metaphor
for VANOC's ceremonies team of understanding and including Canada's
multicultural history and culture.

But come on VANOC…. We Are More!!!!

Daniel Lee Rest in Peace, 1920 – January 26, 2010

Daniel Lee 1920 – January 26, 2010 

2009_Nov_Remembrance_Day 087 by you.
Daniel Lee saluting at
the November 11, 2009 Remembrance Day ceremony in Vancouver Chinatown. 
The Chinese Canadian veterans always attended the Victory Square
Cenotaph ceremonies, which Dan Lee also helped to organize, then they
would go to Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant to stay warm, before organizing the
Chinatown ceremonies at 12:30pm – photo Todd Wong

be a good citizen you got to start at home. Otherwise, a nation is just
like a family.
Everybody got to be happy at home otherwise the nation
would be in trouble.”

– Daniel Lee

With sorrow… we share the news that Grand-Uncle Daniel Lee passed away this morning of January 26th, 2010.  He had been in the Burnaby Hospital since Wednesday.  His daughter Grace,  she said it was quite sudden – his going into the hospital.  I had been receiving reports from my mother Betty, as her mother Mabel (Dan's oldest sister at 99 years old) was visiting the hospital each day.

Uncle Dan was born the 11th child of 14, the 5th son of seven to jeweler Ernest Lee, and Kate Chan Lee – the 2nd child, and 1st daughter of Rev. Chan Yu Tan.  As a young child he spent some time living in Nanaimo with his grandparents Rev. and Mrs. Chan Yu Tan, after the early death of his father.

When Dan was 20 years old he tried to enlist in the Canadian Army, but was turned away because at that time they did not allow any Chinese Canadians.  Instead, he went to aircraft mechanics school in Toronto and graduated two years later.  By 1942, Chinese were allowed into the Army due to pressure from Great Britain.  Dan Lee was one of the the first Chinese-Canadians accepted into the Canadian Air Force.  Soon, he was joined in England, by his brothers Howard and Leonard, plus cousin Victor Wong, who were enroute to the Pacific Theatre to serve with the Army special forces.

In the years after WW2, Dan Lee and his fellow Canadian born veterans would continue to face racial discrimination and prejudice.  The were not allowed to join any of the existing Canadian Legions for veteran soldiers.  They turned to the oldest veteran organization, the Army, Navy, Air Force Vets of Canada and were accepted to form their own unit – Pacific Unit 280.  After
WW2, he and his fellow veterans and good friend Roy Mah, petitioned the
Canadian Government to gain voting rights for Chinese Canadians, and
also to repeal the Chinese Exclusion Act.  This was accomplished in

  Generations Chan Legacy 161 by you.

But the challenges weren't over yet.  Every year Uncle Dan
would write a letter to Ottawa asking for an apology for the Chinese
head tax and exclusion act.  The Chinese head tax redress movement took on a larger significance after MP Margaret Mitchell brought the issue up in Parliament in 1984, and also when Prime Minister Mulroney apologized to Japanese Canadians in 1988 for the the government's interning of them during WW2.

In the 1980's, Dan Lee would continue to work head tax apology issue.  With Douglas Jung, a former veteran, lawyer, Member of
Parliament, and the Chinese Benevolent Association, they proposed that a
national organization be formed to deal with the Head Tax issue.  Dan Lee became one of the founders of the National
Congress of Chinese Canadians(NCCC) and a national conference was held.  After many years, an apology was finally made in Canadian Parliament by Prime Minister Harper in 2006.

In 1998, the Chinese Canadian Military Museum was founded.  Dan Lee's air force uniform was one of the first displays.

2009_Nov_CCMM_Dinner 037

Chinese Canadian Military Museum Dinner November 7, 2009
top row: Bryan Larrabee, grand-nephew Todd Wong, Padre Wesley Lowe
bottom row: niece Rhonda Larrabee, Daniel Lee, sister Mabel Mar

In 1999, we held the first Rev. Chan Legacy Family Reunion.  Uncle Dan was a consultant for the committee.  At the reunion, it was Dan Lee who gave the Elder Address, as he talked about his grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan. 

In 2002, the Rev. Chan Yu Tan family was featured in the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum exhibit “Three Canadian Chinese Pioneer Families”  – pictures of Uncle Dan and the contributions of himself and his brothers and cousin were included.  

In 2007, Dan Lee is one of the lead stories in the film documentary Heroes Remember, produced by the Chinese Canadian Military Museum.

Dan Lee's dedication to community service is exemplary.  In 2004, Dan Lee received the Award of  Merit from Dominion Command.  It is one of the highest honours a veteran can receive.  Uncle Dan told me that to receive an Award of Merit, you must first receive the Medal for
Appreciation, which he received in 1987.  In 1999 he next
received the Award for Service.

And through all these years, Uncle Dan would sell poppies in downtown Vancouver for Remembrance Day, and help organize the Poppy Drive every November.  He was one of the best sellers.  He was also one of the organizers of the Victory Square Cenotaph Remembrance Day ceremonies.  In 2004, Remembrance Day ceremonies began at the Canadian Chinese Pioneer Monument in Chinatown.  The veterans of Unit 280 would attend both Victory Square and Chinatown ceremonies, even if it was raining and cold.

The contributions that Dan Lee made, will last and be remembered, while he will be missed.

We offer support and love to Uncle Dan, his wife Irene, and their children Vincent and Grace.

Peace & Blessings to all, Todd Wong – Vancouver

2009_Nov_CCMM_Dinner 057 by you.

Chinese Canadian Military Museum Dinner November 7, 2009
with fellow veterans of Pacific Unit 280 + Ujjal Dosanjh MP.


As part of his commitment to community, Dan annually organized the poppy campaign in Vancouver. It's not surprising
he was a top-seller. For his community efforts Dan has received many
veteran honours, such as the Award of Appreciation, and Award for
Service – but none higher than the Award of Merit from Dominion Command
in 2004. It's a fitting tribute to the grandson who evidently learned
his values and strong faith in community from his Methodist Church
pioneer, Grandfather Chan Yu Tan.

See VIDEO of Daniel Lee from the Chinese Canadian Military Museum
Lee, one of three brothers to join the war effort, worked as an
aircraft mechanic and went on to a career of dedicated community
service in Canada.

Daniel Lee 1920-2010

Daniel Lee 1920-2010  – picture album on Flickr

Toddish McWong goes to Vernon BC and meets Betty McChan and Dan McHuang.

Toddish McWong goes to Vernon BC and meets Betty McChan and Dan McHuang.

2010_January_Vernon_NewYearsDay 036Toddish McWong meets Betty McChan:  Todd wears the Ancient Fraser Hunting Tartan – the first kilt he ever wore, while Betty wears her father's jacket made from the Chan plaid.

I come to Vernon at Christmas time with my girlfriend and we spend lots of time with her parents and their friends.  Soon after my arrival on December 26th, Bill (my girlfriend's father) tells me that he met a Chinese guy from the Kelowna Pipe Band – that I have to meet.  It turns out that the Kelowna Pipe Band played with the Okanagan Symphony, and the Chinese guy playing the drums stuck out sooo much, that Bill had to go talk to him.  In the next few days, Dan Huang and I will play lots of telephone tag.

Over the next few days, my girlfriend and I celebrate Christmas with her parents.  We visit with their friends.  We go for walks in Kalamalka Park with the doggies.  We celebrate with two of our best friends in Vancouver who come up on December 28 to celebrate New Year's with us… and her birthday.  

2010_January_Vernon_NewYearsDay 083Todd and Deb walk the dogs in Kalamalka Park

Our friend Randall, an opera singer, comes to visit.  We talk about music, opera, and living in Europe.  The next night we visit some other musical friends and have a singalong – we play classic rock and folk songs.  Good thing I brought my accordion.   

My friend Craig and I go skiing at Silver Star.  We take it easy because it's the first day of the skiing season for both of us.  I share that when I was in grades 5, 6, and 7 – my parents brought me and my brother to learn to ski by taking us out of school for a week in February.  We ski green and blue runs + one black diamond run called Chaos.  We meet a Scottish woman, who is amazed that I organize the largest Burns Supper in Vancouver.  She asks me to recite something by Burns.  I launch into a very fast version of the first verse of “Address to a Haggis.”  She laughs in enjoyment.

On New Year's Eve, I receive a phone call from somebody at CBC Radio, for “On the Coast”.  They want to ask me questions about Auld Lang Syne, because it is originally a Scottish tradition – and apparently I am an expert in “All Things Scottish” (their words).  Luckily it's about things I know such as the lyrics are attributed to Scottish poet Robert Burns, and when to join and cross hands with people in a circle while singing Auld Lang Syne.  I add in that Hogmanay (Scottish New Year) is a lot like Chinese New Year because people make a lot of noise to scare off bad ghosts or spirits, and both Chinese and Scottish people want to pay off their debts before the new year begins.  Oh… and they also like to eat and drink a lot, and visit friends.

After 7 days, I
finally see and talk to some Chinese-Canadian people. And… they both have
Scottish connections. 

2010_January_Vernon_NewYearsDay 039 Some of Betty's newsclippings when she was 10 years old and a Highland Dance champion!

Betty Chan is a former Highland Dance champion,
teacher and judge!  We actually met a few years before, when she had emailed me about the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner, and came to attend the 2006 dinner. 

It's a great meeting, as Betty tells us stories about her Highland Dance competitions when she was a child of 10.  In the late 1950's and early 1960's, she was a champion Highland Dancer.  She taught Highland Dancing for a number of years, and even became a member of the judge's panel of the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing. She has since retired.  Back
around 2002, at the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum and Archives, I
first saw an archival issue of Chinatown News with a picture of Betty.

Betty was so good, that there were many media stories written about her.  Even a “Chan plaid” was made up for her.  When Betty went to show us the “Chan plaid” she brought out her father's jacket which he had made in Hong Kong.  She insisted that I try it on.  It's a good fit, and an honour to be wearing it.  Her father Ernest Chan was the first Chinese Canadian to receive the Order of Canada. Betty tells me that I look dashing in her father's Chan plaid jacket!  Wow!

The other guests arrive with extra won ton wrappers.  We fold some pork won tons, we sit down at the table… and after 7 days in Vernon, I finally have
some Chinese food as Betty served us a wonderful won ton soup!  It has bbq pork, water chestnut, siu choy – my girlfriend says is “absolutely fabulous” and “out of this world!”

2010_January_Vernon_NewYearsDay 047 Todd Wong, Dan Huang and Dan's wife Allison who plays bagpipes!

Dan Huang is drum sergeant of the Kelowna Pipe Band.  After days of telephone tag, we had set up a meeting.  Dan shared how he started playing in a pipeband- because his wife played the pipes, and the band was short of drummers – so he gave it a try, having grown up playing violin, piano and other instruments.  The band kilt is the only one he wears, and many people ask to have a picture taken with him, because the sight of an Asian guy in a kilt playing drums in a pipe band is quite unique in the Okanagan.  

And…. it turns out that Dan and I are actually related.  His maternal cousins are my paternal cousins.  So we are not actually related, as we don't share a common ancestor.  But, he brought a picture of his ancestors circa 1940.  Dan showed me his great-grandfather, his 6 wives, then pointed out the 1st born child (his mother) and the 2nd born son standing beside his young wife – who was my dad's oldest sister!  What a small world!

Toddish McWong returns to Canada after 7 days in Scotland

Toddish McWong's inaugural 7 day visit to Scotland

I am now back in Canada.  It was an incredible learning experience for my first trip across the Atlantic to one of the most important cultural and historical ancestral homes for this country called Canada.  Canada is probably the most Scottish nations outside of Scotland.  Our first prime minister, many of our explorers, BC's first premier, Vancouver's first mayor – were all born in Scotland.

And yet… Scotland is a country that is learning from Canada.

My trip was initiated because a life-size picture and video-interview of me were used in the photo exhibit This is Who We Are: Scots in Canada.  I have written about the exhibit here: Toddish McWong arrives in Scotland for inaugural visit and reception at Scottish Parliament for “This is Who We Are”

Here  are my pictures from the exhibit and the reception at the closing of the event on St. Andrew's Day

 Scotland - This is Who We Are: Scots in Canada

Scotland – This is Who We Are:…

Seven days were spent exploring the towns of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Ayr.  I attended the reception at Scottish Parliament for the exhibition This is Who We Are, and I explored Canada-Scottish historical connections at the National Museum of Scotland and Edinburgh Castle.

I also visited many exhibits about Scottish poet Robert Burns at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow's University of Glasgow, Burns Cottage in Alloway and the National Burns Historic Park, near Ayr.

Here are pictures from my 9 hour layover in Amsterdam, and my first two days exploring Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Amsterdam enroute to Scotland

Amsterdam enroute to Scotland

Toddish McWong arrives in Scotland for inaugural visit and reception at Scottish Parliament for “This is Who We Are”

Toddish McWong goes to Scotland: attends reception at Scottish Parliament and does live radio interview back to CBC Radio Vancouver

2009_Scotland_ThisIsWhoWeAre 111 After hosting the annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner for 12 years to celebration Chinese-Canadian and Scottish-Canadian arts and culture, I finally made a visit to Scotland. 

This is my first ever trip to Scotland… and I almost didn't make it.

It's the year of Scotland Homecoming, celebrating the 250th Anniversary of poet Robert Burns, and the 2009 version of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner was one of the listed events of Burns Suppers around the world.  The Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner is the largest Burns Supper in Vancouver (550) and we were chosen as the only Burns Supper in Vancouver to auction off one of only 250 specially made bottles of 37 year old Famous Grouse whisky as part of the Scotland Homecoming celebrations.

Earlier this year, my photo was included in a web photo exhibit THIS IS WHO WE ARE, for Cultural Connect Scotland created by Harry McGrath – former director of the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University.

2009_Scotland_ThisIsWhoWeAre 108Harry McGrath, Harry's brother-in-law and sister Gavin and Isabelle, Scottish minister of Justice Kenny MacAskill + Todd Wong – photo Todd Wong collection

On St. Andrew's Day, November 30th. There was a reception for a specially created version of photo and video THIS IS WHO WE ARE: Scots in Canada.  It is part of the finale events for Scotland Homecoming.  The event was co-hosted by First Minister Alex Salmond and Presiding Officers Alex Fergusson.

2009_Scotland_ThisIsWhoWeAre 077 Alex Salmond, Scottish First Minister quoting Scottish born John Buchan, Scottish writer and former Governor General:

“For Canada, in one sense is simply Scotland writ large. Since I came here a year ago, I have never suffered for one moment from homesickness.  I find pine forests and swift streams, and trout, and salmon, and mountains, which are Scotland on a grander scale; and I find in parts of the prairies, green rolling hills like my own Borders.” – John Buchan, the creator of the Governor Generals Literary Awards in 1937,
2009_Scotland_ThisIsWhoWeAre 016

In the exhibition, a lifesize picture of Todd Wong aka Toddish McWong is featured in the Culture section.

I think this photo is from the photo archives sessions we did for CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy”.  I was wearing the Royal Stuart tartan and holding the Chinese lion dance mask.

The reception at Scottish Parliament went well.  It was good to see
Harry McGrath – coordinator of the project again, along with his
photographer friend Graeme Murdoch.  They kept pulling me along to meet
their family members and some of the VIP dignataries such as:

  • Assistant High Commisioner of Canada, Claude Boucher – yes we spoke some french
  • Alex Fergussion MSP, Presiding Officer (Speaker of the House) – who co-hosted the event
  • Donald MacLeod of Victoria BC – who was a sponsor of the project

I met many other people such as:
a Canadian student in Edinburgh who's uncle in Coquitlam is proprietor of Roane's Top Quality Haggis
Calum Colvin – one of Edinburgh's top artists.
Linda Aberdeen, from Calgary, the organizer of Calgary Highland Games

I was introduced to the audience to good applause and as an example of cultural fusion, as an evolution and renewal of Scottish culture as it is shared and embraced by many people of different ethnicities.  It truly becomes an example of one of Robert Burns' most famous poems A Man's a Man for All That:

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

Hopefully, the exhibition can come tour
Canada and become a book with all the unused photos and video
interviews not used in the exhibition.

Stephen Quinn commented
on my “non-existant” Scottish accent. And to think I didna like or ken
Scots in Canada, when I was a wee bairn.

The reception finished at 8:30pm.

Pictures of the event are here on flickr:

Scotland - This is Who We Are: Scots in Canada

Scotland – This is Who We Are:…

After the reception, we next walked to Jenny Ha's Pub around the corner and up the street to celebrate and relax. 

But I had to go back to the Parliament building to do a radio interview back to CBC Radio One Vancouver for the ON THE COAST afternoon program with Stephen Quinn.  The phone reception was very good with no time delay.

Stephen asked me about my first visit to Scotland.  I replied it all feels somewhat familiar because I am finding street and place names that are the same such as Dundas St. or Buchanan St.  We talked a bit about the exhibition and how I had just met some Canadians here such as the organizer of the Calgary Highland Games and Chad – a student at the University of Edinburgh.  Chad wants to start a “Canadian Club” at the university and hopefully have a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner event for his friends to help celebrated Canada's multicultural fusion and “Canadianess”

Stephen also asked me about my “sypathetic” Scottish accent.  Yes… I am trying my best to fit in.

I am wearing my kilt about town.  I am meeting other kilt wearers – two of whom are also on the “X Marks the Scot” web forum. 

I am meeting Asians in Scotland.  Mostly they are students at the universities.  But one woman is an teacher of architecture in Glasgow.  Other people run Chinese restaurants in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.

More later….

Vancouver 2010 Aboriginal Art Exhibition features artists from across Canada

Aboriginal artists from across Canada, featured at Vancouver 2010 exhibition,

Over 50 artists were featured at the Vancouver 2010 Aboriginal Art Exhibition at Canada Place in Vancouver BC, Oct 17/18.  It's a two day free exhibition with sales to the public.  On Friday evening, a live auction of highlighted artworks was held with proceeds going towards the Vancouver 2010 Aboriginal Youth Legacy Fund.

Many of the artists were commissioned to create artworks for the Olympic venue sites.  These works are featured in the book,
O Siyam: Aboriginal Art Inspired by the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which will be available in stores on November 2 the first official Games-related book to be published.  Pre-ordered copies of the book can be made at the exhibition.

2009_Oct 015 by you.

Alano Edzerza (right) is an amazing young artist that I met. Melissa (left) is his friend who helps him plan events. Melissa is wearing a shirt that Alano designed, for her marathon running competitions.  Behind them is a 3-panel design of flying ravens. I really liked it's three dimensionality, and repeated motif.  It stands out to many of the flat 2-dimensional designs I have seen in aboriginal art. Alano also designed a 3-panel work featuring killer whales, which inspired a commission from GM place of killer whales. Born in 1981, this 28 year old artist has both a remarkable maturity, and an extensive collection of works and his own gallery.  So impressive is Edzerza's work that Roy Henry Vickers was sending people his way at the exhibition.

2009_Oct 008 by you.
Councillor Lois Joseph of the Lil'Wat Nation Mount Currie Band is very proud of Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Museum, recently build in Whistler BC.  She said it is a collaboration by two nations, Squamish and Lilwat, and it is designed to showcase the history, culture and artworks of the Lil'Wat and Squamish peoples who have been a big part of the Sea to Sky country.  I have visited Aboriginal Cultural Centres in Alert Bay, the Haida Gwaii Museum, and even the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Hawaii.  I will definitely go visit on my next trip to Whistler.

2009_Oct 011 by you.

Roy Henry Vickers was one of the first aboriginal artists to recieve mass popularity in BC.  His striking serigraphs are available as postcards and prints.  He is also recipient of Order of BC, and Order of Canada.  His Aerie Gallery in Tofino is a must-see. When I found him, he was playing with a computer image of a five-finned killer whale on a lap top computer. He shared with me the very personal story of this very special whale which also includes the story of his “Chieftainship, Tlagwigila more commonly spelled,
Tlakwakila which means Copperman. Tlakwakila is from the house of WAKAS
and my adopted family,”

Mr. Vickers and I talked about commonalities about Chinese and First Nations peoples.  He said “There is no Yellow Skin, only a person, there is no Red skin, only a person, There is no black or white skin, only a person.  We are all the same race… We are human.”

When I told him about Gung Haggis Fat Choy, and how the give recognition to BC's pioneer cultures the Scottish, Chinese and First Nations instead of Canada's two solitudes of French and English… he shared with me that his mother was English. 

I thanked him for sharing his wisdom and helping make our society a better place.
Check out:

2009_Oct 013 by you.

KC Adams is from Winnipeg, but she doesn't identify herself as Metis, because she is part Scottish – not French-Canadian.  She is tuned into the growing Mixed-Race culture of Canada, but doesn't call herself a hybrid or mixed-race.  Instead she calls herself a cyborg, reflecting our new technology culture for the 21st Century. 

Her artwork also reflects her post-modern, post-colonial viewpoints.  She plays with stereotypes and juxtaposes them with contrary images.  The portraits are beautiful, clean, and dressed in white.  The words on the clothing say things like ““AUTHORITY ON ALL ABORIGINAL ISSUES”,
You can see her Cyborg series here:

KC's websites states:

Cyborg Hybrids is a photo series that attempts to challenge our views towards
mixed race classifications by using humorous text and imagery from two cultures.
The Cyborg Hybrids are digital prints of Euro-Aboriginal artists who are forward
thinkers and plugged in with technology. They follow the doctrine of Donna Harroway’s
, which states that a cyborg is a creature in a technological,
post-gender world free of traditional western stereotypes towards race and gender.

KC laughed when I told her about Gung Haggis Fat Choy – but she got it.  Juxtoposing cultural images and language in ways that reflect a new understanding – that's what we both do.  We recognize Mixed-Race heritage.  She was intrigued when I told her that there were people in Madagasca called Metis, but were of Chinese and Madagascar heritage, in this former French colony. But Metis means half, just like the Hawaiian term Hapa.

2009_Oct 016 by you.

While at the exhibition, my friend Sabine found me and said “You have to see Jean Taylor.”  Her biography states her “Tlingit name is Khàsx’ ân Tlâ is from the Dakhł awèdi Clan of the
Teslin Tlingit Nation in Teslin, Yukon Territory. She is also a member
of the Tlingit Haida Central Council of Alaska.”

Her artwork captures the spirit and minuitae of aboriginal cultural life.  There are scenes of dancing, farming, running with sled dogs.  It's beautiful, reflective and wonderfully presented.
Check out:

John Ralston Saul says Canada is Metis/Aboriginal…. in nature – not English/French/Scottish….

John Ralston Saul says Canada is Metis/Aboriginal…. in nature – not English/French/Scottish….

Here is John Ralston Saul's 2008 book about Canada:

SUMMARY OF A FAIR COUNTRY (from his website):

this startlingly original vision of Canada, thinker John Ralston Saul
unveils 3 founding myths. Saul argues that the famous “peace, order,
and good government” that supposedly defines Canada is a distortion of
the country’s true nature. Every single document before the BNA Act, he
points out, used the phrase “peace, welfare, and good government,”
demonstrating that the well-being of its citizenry was paramount.

also argues that Canada is a Métis nation, heavily influenced and
shaped by aboriginal ideas: egalitarianism, a proper balance between
individual and group, and a penchant for negotiation over violence are
all aboriginal values that Canada absorbed. Another obstacle to
progress, Saul argues, is that Canada has an increasingly ineffective
elite, a colonial non-intellectual business elite that doesn’t believe
in Canada. It is critical that we recognize these aspects of the
country in order to rethink its future.”

Canada Day rally for Chinese Head Tax families: 10:30am Chinatown Monument

Canada Day rally for Chinese Head Tax families: 10:30am Chinatown Monument

This will be the 4th annual Chinatown Redress Rally, since Prime Minister Harper apologized for the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act – but limited redress packages to only surviving head tax payers and their spouses.  This action effectively limited full redress to less than 1% of head tax paying families, as almost all head tax payers had already died.  Many head tax payers passed on their certificates to their children, because they believed the government would make a fair and equal redress someday, and because they believed that Canada was a fair and equal country.  Chinese Canadians have lobbied against head tax since it was legislated in 1885.  After WW2, Chinese Canadian WW2 veterans successfully lobbied for the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1947.  In 1988, a Japanese Canadian Redress package was finally achieved after 4 years of negotiations. The Chinese Head Tax Redress package was never openly negotiated with community groups.

Media Advisory – June 30, 2009

Head Tax Families Celebrate Canada Day With Hot Dogs:
Rally at Monument to Chinese Railway Workers and War Veteran

Vancouver, BC –  Members of Head Tax Families Society of Canada (HTFSC)
and its supporters will celebrate Canada Day with hot dogs in Chinatown.
The Fourth Annual Chinatown Redress Rally maybe remembered as the one
when the hotdogs appeared and the start of a tradition. Head tax families are
proud Canadians exercising their rights of public assembly and speech. They
will call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to start good-faith
negotiations with representatives of head tax families for an inclusive just and
honourable redress

Time:  10:30am members call time – program to begin shortly after
Date:   Wednesday July 1, 2009 – Canada Day
Place: Memorial to Chinese Railway Workers and War Veterans
           Keefer and Columbia (NE corner), Vancouver

The Conservative government's June 22, 2006 Parliamentary apology and
unilaterally imposed redress package excluded most head tax families seeking
direct meaningful symbolic redress. Less than 900 families were eligible for the
ex gratia payments to surviving head tax payers and spouses of deceased head
tax payers. Some 3,000 families have registered with HTFSC and inclusive
redress-seeking groups across Canada calling for justice and honour for
affected elderly sons and daughters whose parents are deceased. Over 82,000
Chinese immigrants paid the head tax from 1885 to 1923, when exclusion
legislation was enacted. Repealed in 1947, the Chinese exclusion laws impoverished and
separated many head tax families for decades.

Members and supporters of Head Tax Families Society of Canada are today's
Canadians on a twenty-six year struggle for an inclusive just and
honourable redress
for affected head tax families.

Go to for more information.

– 30 –

Contact: Sid Tan – 604-783-1853

Mabel Elmore and Naomi Yamamoto: First Canadians of Filipino and Japanese ancestry elected to BC Legislature

Mabel Elmore and Naomi Yamamoto elected to BC Legislature!

2009_May 248 by you.

Filipinos were the first Asians to come to North America.  Japanese Canadians were interned during WW2.  Both are now represented in BC Legislature.  The election of Mabel Elmore and Naomi Yamamoto will hopefully bring more diversity and inclusion to BC's Legislature, as Filipino and Japanese Canadians citizens have often been at the brunt of some of BC's legislation regarding racism and immigration.  Let us hope that the WW2 internment of Canadians of Japanese ancestry, after their valiant fighting for Canada during WW1, will never happen again, nor affect other Canadians of ethnic ancestry.

2009_May 246

Mabel Elmore is proud to bring Filipino-Canadian representation to Victoria.  Elmore won Vancouver Kensington last night. When Mabel gave her short speech, her mother and cousins were standing nearby.  They were all very proud and happy that she was elected.

Naomi Yamamoto won North Vancouver Lonsdale for the Liberal Party, and will hopefully be in BC Cabinet.  Yamamoto has been chair of the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.  She is also the daughter of Japanese-Canadian internment survivors.  Her father Mas Yamamoto celebrated her historic win with her on election night.
See: North Shore Outlook: Yamamoto becomes B.C.'s first-ever Japanese-Canadian MLA

2009_May 258

Jenny Kwan, BC's first Chinese-Canadian Cabinet Minister in 1988, was easily re-elected in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant.

2009_May 279

Sharing a hug with friends Mel Lehan, who ran in Vancouver-Point Grey, and Meena Wong, who worked on Adrian Dix campaign in Vancouver-Kingsway.

Check out my pictures from last nights NDP party in Burnaby:

2009 BC Election: NDP party Vancouver Burnaby

2009 BC Election: NDP party…

A Gung Haggis Gaelic Easter Greeting…

It's been too rainy and cloudy for me to go skiing at Silver Star this weekend.  So I kayaked on Kalamalka Lake and helped walk the doggies up in Kalamalka Lake Park, where the snow still lies.

Yesterday I went to Village Green Mall in Vernon, where people were buying Chocolates and in the food court, an Easter show for families consisted of trying to fit 12 members of the Vernon Girls Trumpet Band into a giant balloon.  (photos to follow).

After a week of Tartan Day/Scottish Week activities… and not having any Chinese food in recent memory… I am beginning to question my Easter heritage.  Even though my great-great-grandfather was a Chinese United Church Minister, I never went to United Church for Easter.  For many years, I was a member of Celebration of Life Centre, and Centre for Spiritual Living – both New Thought Churches.

The only Chinese cultural event that I can think of, is giving Red Eggs at a dinner, one month after a baby is born.  But this isn't necessarily related to Easter, except perhaps as a reminder of sucessful fertility in relation to Spring fertility rituals.

I remember one childhood Easter where we received Easter baskets in Honolulu.  There were always lots of Chocolate bunnies for Easter as a child, but the Honolulu baskets had the little fluffy toy chick decorations… That was cool.  No grass skirts on Easter bunnies back in the 60's though.

The Gung Haggis dragon boat team paddled this morning to Granville Island for Hot Chocolate and Coffee, and found some Easter Eggs.  This is becoming a team tradition.

My Irish-Canadian writer friend Terry Glavin sent me this email message, and a link to his website:

The big Irish event among my
crowd, the event of the year that utterly eclipses St. Patrick's Day, has always
been Easter anyway. Thus:

Gung Hay Beannachtaí na Cásca Fat Choy, comrade.