Come and celebrate our new Ricepaper Magazine issue at the launch party at Historic Joy Kogawa House on April 6th… featuring Aboriginal and Asian Canadian writers….
On April 6, 2013 from 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm, the Historic Joy Kogawa House is hosting our Special Double Issue Launch Party. The event will coincide with the opening reception for the Text/Textiles exhibit, featuring collections from international textile artists. The opening reception will begin at 12:00 pm and Cherry Blossom: A Textile Translation Retrospective exhibit will be available for viewing until Sunday, April 21.
It is one of the best Ricepaper issues I have seen, as a member of the ACWW board… and so pleased to host at Historic Joy Kogawa House, where I am chair of the board. My cousin Sharel Wright is one of the authors in the magazine and will be in attendance with her mother Rhonda Larrabee, Chief of Qayqayt First Nations…
The launch party will also include the first of a three part public reading series:
Saturday, April 6 will introduce featured writers published in the new issue of Ricepaper magazine: Carrie Calvo, Michelle Sylliboy, Russell Wallace, Wanda John Kehewin, Elaine Woo and Jonina Kirton. The reading will be from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm.
Saturday, April 13 from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Joy Kogawa House will host a family reading with Jacqueline Pearce. The author of The Reunion will enthrall the audience with her story of a friendship between a Sikh girl and a Japanese Canadian during World War II.
Saturday, April 20 will showcase a group of poets from The Planet Earth Anthology, published by Leaf Press. The reading will be from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm.
The Silk Purse Gallery in West Vancouver is also exhibiting new artwork in Cherry Blossom: A Textile Translation. As an expression of the changing season from winter to spring, artists from Canada, USA and Japan come together to display the range of inspiring art on silks, sculptures, books and clothing. Opening reception is on Tuesday, April 2 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, and the exhibit is open until April 21.
June 21st, it’s National Aboriginal Day, so I wore my Robert Davidson t-shirt, with my Yellow Macleod kilt for Kilts Night @ Doolin’s Irish Pub. And I met Jaime Sanchez, who introduced himself to me, identifying our mutual friend David Wong. I think Jaime looked at me, and said “You must know David Wong… who else would know a Chinese guy wearing a Aboriginal design t-shirt with a Scottish kilt.”
June 21st was National Aboriginal Day… Kilts Night… my nephew’s 9th birthday… and also the 23rd anniversary of my near-fatal cancer diagnosis in 1989. Here’s a blog story I wrote 5 years ago, how they year’s longest day, on Solstice, became my longest night. Sure glad I’m alive now – otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to go to Kilts Night last night…
Here is a blog story I wrote 5 years ago on the 17th anniversary anniversary of my cancer diagnosis:
Good practice today! We focused on race tactics as well as race day procedures. Some of our paddlers only practice on Sundays or Wednesdays, so we will do the same thing on Wednesday.
After a warm-up, we explained where the team tents will be set up, and where the marshalling area will be. At last weekend’s regatta, races were 15 minutes apart. We then went through loading the boat, and how busy it will be on the dock, and leaving the docks to the race staging area on the water.
We did some paddling warm-ups for rotation, hips, reach and rate, then practiced some starts, then paddled to the race staging area in East Bay. We quickly found the Hydro Dragons coached by Dan Hebert, whom I have known for about 10 years. Dan called a race start between our two boats. The start was close – both teams pulling hard with each stroke. As I drummed for Gung Haggis, I stole glances at the Hydro team, watching the boat beside us. I called a Power Series, and the team responded, digging deep for 20 strokes.
At the half way mark, the Hydro team pulled forward, and had to move to the left, as there was a boat anchored in the East Bay, in the middle of what will be the race course next weekend. Our boat took in some water as Dan’s coach boat cast a wake in our path. Some of our paddlers were distracted by the unexpected surprises of course change and boat wake. This is a good exercise in dealing with unexpected surprises. The Hydro Dragons proved to have a strong finish, and crossed the finish line before us. We congratulated them, then did our own race debrief.
We then headed for the Center Bay of False Creek and did some exercises to help improve our race starts: front half and back half race starts. This served to show the newer paddlers how well the veteran paddlers perform, and to inspire them. The back half proved to be powerful, but with some timing issues and room for improvement. We do believe in our new padders, and want to encourage them – there is great potential here that will be realized not in the next weekend, but later this summer.
We had our paddlers switch sides to work out on both sides of the body. This is something we regularly do to encourage body symmetry and help develop paddling technique for both sides of the body. We next worked on power series drills for front, middle and back thirds, while the rest of the team paddled 60% effort. Next we turned the team over to veteran paddler Keng Graal who is also one of the team’s drummers. Keng explained how she calls for the team, and what she expects. She called a short race piece, to allow the paddlers to get used to her voice.
As we approached the startline in the East Bay, beside the island, we gave the paddlers a rest, and practiced some commands for positioning the boat. We asked the paddlers to back paddle, and left front draw, right side draw – all to get the paddlers used to what may happen on Race Day.
We did one final race piece of 500m, with Keng as drummer. This was good. Keng is a demanding drummer that commands attention. She first came to the team about 7 years ago in 2007. She had been a drummer for the CC Riders dragon boat team for Columbia College. We trained her to be a paddler. The first race she did with us was 1000m. She survived… She stayed with the team… and has paddled with us in many races and has really grown into a team leader. She is small, but really pulls a lot of water for her size.
We look forward to a great weekend for June 16/17. We have great leaders on this team with Keng, Steven and Debbie as assistant coaches, Deb as steersperson, Karl and Gio as lead strokes, Xavier as “master of the kilt!”
Everybody on this team brings something. It might be strength, experience, or a great sense of humour. We encourage and acknowledge every person’s personality, and especially the cultural diversity that each paddler brings. We have fun and we both encourage and tease each other, as well as respect each other, and what each person brings to the team. This is good team building. This is a good team. I am having fun, and especially getting to know our new paddlers.
We only had 16 paddlers out on the water this Sunday – but we had fun…. and that is what is important.
Paddlers out on Sunday were:
Karl & Gio
Keng & Amelia
Caroline & Xavier
Steven & Walter
Florian & Gerard
Pedro & Todd
Justin & John
Pierce & Sabina
+ Deb Martin as steersperson.
Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dragons invade St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Vancouver
Lions and Dragons and more Dragons – oh My! Gung Haggis Fat Choy entry in the CelticFest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Vancouver. “Perhaps
no group spoke to the modern mixing of cultures better than the Gung
Haggis Fat Choy revellers who wove in and out of the action Sunday
morning. The colourful Chinese dragons and green attire represented the
relatively new hybridized festival that originated in Vancouver. A
coincidental celebration of both Robert Burns Day and the Chinese New
Year brought the new celebration that creates an interesting
mix of poetry, music and food every January.
“I think it’s an interesting idea — we have these Chinese unions combined with St. Patrick’s Day,” said Nick Hsu.
The 43-year-old was part of a group of family and friends who travelled up from Seattle to parade.
For 2012, I brought some of my dragon boat hand puppets from home, as I did for the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade, when I had walked with the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens. We interacted with many of the children watching the parade, who were delighted to see the plushy dragon toys! We encouraged them to “pet the dragon’s head for good luck”, which many children including adults such as CelticFest chair Joanna Hickey did.
Gung Haggis paddler Xavier MacDonald strutted the streets in his kilt with a Chinese lion head costume – photo Todd Wong
Decorating the car, and everybody wears a necklace with green hats optional! What a great group of people! We were entry #73, and we decorated the car from the middle of Granville St. Bridge – then moved onto the Howe St. onramp, as the parade filed into order starting at Drake. St.
of people have crowded downtown Vancouver’s Howe Street this morning to
watch as bagpipers, Irish dancers and hurlers–of the sporting variety
–paraded with dreadlocked dancers, green samba queens and even a roller
I am sorry to say that Chuck Davis never attended a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.
But Chuck did came to speak to the Vancouver Library workers during a historic
1st time ever strike – when I invited him to come out. He was always very proud
that his book “The Vancouver Book” was the 2nd most stolen book at the
Vancouver Public Library.
I had organized an author's reading series for the CUPE 391 strikeline, inspired by 2 reasons.
1) Victoria author Terry Glavin had wanted to do research at VPL
2) a lot of community groups such as the Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra had booked the
community rooms at VPL, and could no longer have a space to do public programs.
This picture was takenin 2009, to mark the 250th birthday of Robbie
Burns. We also did a virtual wreath laying in “2nd Life” – organized by
Dr. Leith Davis – director of Centre for Scottish Studies SFU – who had
just flown into Vancouver YVR from Scotland, and came straight to our
ceremony. That night at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner – she declared
it the best Burns Dinner she had ever attended – having spent the
previous week in Scotland attending many Burns Suppers.
Read the story of the event here:
250th Anniversary of Robert Burns recognized with poems at statue in Vancouver's Stanley Park
The Chinatown Lion Club dinners began at the Bamboo Terrace Restaurant
just over 50 years ago. They continued for many years, many of them organized by
Vancouver lawyer Chuck Lew, but dwindled in recent years. I attended
one of the dinners at Floata – possibly in 2009. We did a one time
merger… maybe in 2010. I asked Chuck about creating a 50th
Anniversary Robbie Burns Chinatown dinner for Vancouver Chinatown Lions
Club – but I don't think they ever had one… He told me that it was
getting harder to organize… and even had asked me about organizing the
dinner for the Chinatown Lions Club – which I declined, in order to focus on Gung Haggis Fat Choy events.
For the record – Chinatown Lions Club always served the haggis
traditional style with sweet and sour sauce (or some kind of Chinese
sauce). They never ventured into fusion cuisine. Gung Haggis Fat Choy
dinners have created a number of haggis-fusion-cuisine dishes –
including: deep fried haggis won-tons, deep fried haggis / seafood
dumplings, haggis won ton soup, haggis spring rolls, steamed haggis /
shrimp dumplings, steamed haggis / pork dumplings, haggis lettuce wrap.
This definitely a turnabout but not a Turandot! – even though the Black Bear Rebels ceilidh group did play the Chinese folk song Mo Li Hua (Jasmine Flower) which is the melody that Giacommo Pucinni pinched to use as the Princess Turandot them in his famous opera Turandot (hint: think Nessun Dorma)
Shigematsu (far left) and Todd Wong (right) granted the Gung Haggis Fat
Choy Intercultural Awards of Awesomeness to Vancouver Opera's James
Wright, poet Fred Wah, and Ricepaper founder Jim Wong-Chu.
“Politicians of all stripes must have had other business in this
postelection malaise, as the 15th annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie
Burns Chinese New Year dinner went off without them.
The only person to note this was Scottish-born-and-raised local political veteran Margaret Birrell, who told the Straight that Scotland is likely to vote for independence from the U.K. in 2014.
Other than Birrell, nobody seemed to mind too much, as there was music, poetry, whisky, haggis, banter, and fun a-plenty.
Tetsuro Shigematso and Gung Haggis creator Todd “Toddish McWong” Wong
made sure the night was seamless at the Floata Restaurant in Chinatown,
which culminated in a cross-cultural Mandarin-English version of “Auld
Lang Syne” (“Youyi dichang-tianju”), traditionally used to sing in the
New Year in Scotland and elsewhere.”
read more at:
Allan McMordie and I took Haggis wonton
and Haggis shu-mei to Global Morning News. Sophie Lui and Steve Darling
said they were delicious, they even had seconds!
We did two segments. The first was cooking. I heated up some fried rice, and added haggis. Meanwhile, both Sophie and Steve tried the haggis wonton and haggis shu-mei that had been pre-prepared by the Float Restaurant the night before.
For the second segment, Allan played Scotland the Brave on his bagpipes, then I performed the first verse of Robbie Burns' immortal poem – The Address to the Haggis. We bantered a bit about how our event makes Chinese New Year safe for Scottish-Canadians, and makes Robbie Burns Day and haggis safe for Chinese-Canadians. Sophie ate the spicy jellyfish, but Steve politely declined.
We also talked about how we have set Robbie Burns lyrics to a Johnny Cash song and Allan lets me play my accordion in his celtic ceilidh group, The Black Bear Rebesl. Sophie said she loved all the fusion and fun of our event.
Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Robbie Burns Chinese New Year's Dinner
photo Deb Martin
Dinner to 9:15pm – end time
– 180 Keefer St.
Ticket: $65 + service Charge, prices for students
of Ten is $625+ service charge.
Firehall Arts Centre 604-689-0926
25th, 2012 marks the 253rd birthday of the famous Scottish bard, two days
after January 23rd Chinese New Year welcoming the Year of the Dragon
– the most auspicious and sacred animal of the Chinese Zodiac.
Haggis Fat Choy has become synonymous with cultural fusion and fun. Often imitated, but never as successful,
musical, poetic, delicious, historical nor educative.
FEATURED 2012 Performers:
by Tetsuro Shigematsu and Toddish McWong
Wah – Parliamentary Poet Laureate
Walls – Chinese clapper tales and Chinese scholar
Harry McGrath – Robbie Burns Immortal Memory
Bear Rebels Celtic Ceilidh ensemble
Haggis Fat Choy Pipes & Drums
of dragons + surprises!
1998, “Toddish McWong” held a small private dinner for 16 friends with food,
haggis, poetry and songs – from both Scottish and Chinese cultures and thus was
Gung Haggis Fat Choy - Now it is a dinner for 400 people!
than a traditional dinner with music
and poetry. Gung Haggis Fat Choy
re-imagines a traditional Robert Burns Dinner format, within a BC or Canadian
historical context that puts Scottish-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian pioneers on
an inclusive and equal platform, while acknowledging historical racism and how
we move beyond it. This event has grown to also celebrate contemporary Scottish-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian
artists and poets and their innovations to create something uniquely Canadian.
15 Years of Highlights for
Gung Haggis Fat Choy & Toddish McWong:
1998 – 1st Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner for 16 people in a living room.
– 1st Creation of deep-fried haggis won ton
- CBC tv television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy”– nominated for 2
- SFU GHFC Festival with dragon cart racing + human curling
– GHFC photo included in Paul Yee book Saltwater City
– “Address to the Haggis” rap version performed by Todd Wong & Joe McDonald
- GHFC featured in CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy
- Toddish McWong photo in BC Canada
Pavillion during Beijing Olympics.
- photo of Toddish McWong in the Royal BC Museum exhibit “The Party”
- GHFC written about in Charles Demers’ book Vancouver Special
- Toddish McWong featured speaker at Centre for Scottish Studies SFU conference
“Burns in Trans-Atlantic context”
- Toddish McWong photo featured at Scottish Parliament in the exhibit “This is
Who We Are: Scots in Canada.”
- GHFC dinner inspired Hapa-Palooza Festival for Vancouver 125 Celebrations
Featured poets and authors
Joy Kogawa, Fred Wah, Brad Cran, Larissa Lai, Rita
Wong, George McWhirter, Jim Wong-Chu, Lensey Namioka, Fiona Tinwei Lam, + Musicians
Silk Road Music, Heather Pawsey soprano, Lan Tung, and Blackthorn + Film makers
Jeff Chiba Stearns, Ann-Marie Fleming and Moyra Rodger.
of the dinner go to Historic Joy Kogawa House Society, Asian Canadian Writers'
Workshop/Ricepaper Magazine and Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team. Every dinner guest receives a gift
subscription to Ricepaper Magazine
Menu Highlights include:
haggis won ton + haggis pork dumpling (su-mei) and appetizer courses.
served Chinese style in the form of pan-fried turnip cake, dim sum style.
haggis is served with Chinese lettuce wrap.
we always feature fun singalongs such as Loch Lomand, My Chow Mein (Bonny) Lies
Over the Ocean, and When Asian Eyes Are Smiling.
lots of surprises… such as new for 2012 – a revamped version of Robbie Burns
lyrics set to Johnny Cash or Elvis Presley music.
media inquires contact: