Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson reads from the city proclamation to announce “Italian Day in Vancouver”
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson reads from the city proclamation to announce “Italian Day in Vancouver”
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.”
Here is a blog story I wrote 5 years ago on the 17th anniversary anniversary of my cancer diagnosis:
“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.
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.
Every now and then, I get emails or invitations for Scotland… check this out!
Firstly let me introduce myself. I am Graham Maclachlan, the Head of
Community and Content at Blipfoto.com. I'm writing to let you know of a
project we are doing in partnership with the Scottish Government which I
hope you'll be able to support.
Basically,we're making an
animated film based on images of the Scottish flag gathered from around
the world. We launched Wednesday, St Andrews Day, and already have
submission from all around the world, including, Iraq, Scandinavia,
Japan, China and of course Canada.
I've enclosed a copy of the Press Release which I hope you'll find time to read and a link to the micro site
It would be great fun to get you and you fellow Burn's devotees to participate in this exciting project.
Please don't hesitate to drop me a line if you want anymore information or help
Best regards Graham
actually have a real Scottish flag, that I attach to a hockey stick and
prop up at the back of a canoe… when we proclaimed Tartan Day in
Vancouver a few years ago….
Excellent I hope you join the fun – you can put up as many daily shots
as you wish between now and Burns night. It would be great to see the
Dragon in the film. As long as the flag fits in the the loader template
it should be fine.
Excellent Todd and thank for pass it over to Simon Fraser, it looks like
their going to participate too. Everyone here is looking forward to
seeing Mr Toddish McWong and his chums flying the saltire once again.
The images can't be from an archive-they have to be new images, one a day and posted through the uploader.
the saltire small and leave enough space either side for at least two
more of the same size. If you're in any doubt, take a step back and leave
People around the world will collaborate this winter to produce a social media movie and celebrate Scotland's global community/ spirit/ reach/ influence.
'Scotland the World Over' invites everyone to take part and photograph a Saltire wherever they may be and upload the image to www.blipfoto.com/theworldover .
Scots and Scots at heart will build a film, one frame at a time, by simply uploading pictures with a Saltire centred in the frame. What surrounds the Saltire in the rest of the image is entirely up to the participant. The finished film will then be premiered worldwide on Burns Night 2012 (January 25).
The initiative is hosted by BAFTA Award-winning life sharing social networking site www.blipfoto.com – which shares over 1.5 million images from over 170 countries, each representing a single day in someone's life – in partnership with the Scottish Government.
‘Scotland the World Over’ was launched on Tuesday 29th November by Cabinet Secretary for Education Michael Russell.
Michael Russell Comments, “Scotland the World Over” is a great idea and will provide a fantastic showcase to celebrate Scotland both home and abroad. As a nation, we've always enjoyed a strong International profile and this wonderfully exciting project can only build on that.”
“I'd encourage as many people as possible to get involved, whether they're here at home or abroad. We welcome anyone across the world with an interest in Scotland to take part. I'm now looking forward to Burns Night with even more excitement and to seeing the wide variety of iconic images we're no doubt set to capture''.
Joe Tree, founder and CEO of Blipfoto, said: “Blipfoto is a truly global community, but we're very proud of our Scottish roots. There's an obvious parallel between the way Blipfoto reaches out and touches people's lives around the world and the positive global influence Scotland has long enjoyed”.
“We share a real outward-looking spirit, so we're delighted to launch such an exciting event and I'm really looking forward to the big reveal on Burns night next year”.
The name for Scotland The World Over was inspired but the final line of the Robert Burns poem A Man's a Man for A' That: “That Man to Man, the world o'er, Shall brothers be for a' that.
The initiative is not just for Scots or those living in Scotland. People from as many different countries and cultures are encouraged to have a go.
Todd Wong in Edinburgh, at the 2009 Scottish Parliament display for This Is Who We Are: Scots in Canada
It seems like only last year, when I was in Scotland for my first visit…
I was in Edinburgh, Scotland for Homecoming Finale on November 30, 2009 – now two years ago. Since then, I have lots lots more about both Scottish and Chinese New Year traditions.
Right now I am in Vernon BC, while planning the 2012 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year event for January 22nd 2012, as well as a smaller dinner for Victoria on January 28th. There will also be large dinner in Seattle organized by my friend Bill McFadden with the Seattle Caledonian and St. Andrew's Society. Right now. I am listening to BBC Radio Scotland through the internet, as I have done many times over the years. Midnight in Scotland is 4pm Pacific Standard Time, so this gives me plenty of time to relax and enjoy the New Year's Eve Day… as the sun starts to set over the ridge across Kalamalka Lake.
Tonight I am going to Silver Star Ski Resort. We like to watch the 8pm torchlight parade down the ski runs, followed by a torchlight parade. You can see my pictures from past years here:
It can be cold wearing kilts in winter, but here are Joe McDonald, Bruce Clark, Todd Wong and Xavier MacDonald at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens for the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival. Joe, Xavier and myself with The Black Bear Rebels music ensemble helped to create a Winter Solstice Music Ceilidh on December 21st for the event.
Members of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pipes & Drums – included Dan Huang of the Kelowna Pipes & Drums
years are new beginnings, and every culture celebrates them differently
and similarly. That's the great thing about being in a multicultural
nation such as Canada. All of the world's cultures live inside our
borders and we can freely share and partake of each other's cultures.
Yes, there are still racist bigots and idiots out there, and that is why
it is so important for us to embrace cultural harmony and help to build
a country we want to be proud of.
The origin of Gung Haggis Fat Choy
started when I was asked to participate in the 1993 Robbie Burns Day
celebration at Simon Fraser University. In 1998, I decided to
host a dinner for 16 guests that blended Robbie Burns Day(January 25th)
with Chinese lunar New Year (late January to early February). Now the
dinner event that has grown to an size of almost 500 guests, a CBC
television special, an annual poetry night
at the Vancouver Public Library, a recreation event at Simon Fraser
University…. and media stories around the world!
Hogmanay is the Scottish New Year's Eve, and it is celebrated on New Year's Eve with a Grand Dinner. It can be very similar to Chinese New Year's in many ways:
1) Make lots of noise.
Chinese like to burn firecrackers, bang drums and pots to scare the
ghosts and bad spirits away. Scots will fire off cannons, sound
sirens, bang pots and make lots of noise, I think just for the excuse
of making noise.
2) Pay off your debts.
Chinese like to ensure that you start off the New Year with no debts
hanging onto your personal feng shui. I think the Scots do the
same but especially to ensure that they aren't paying anymore interest.
3) Have lots of good food. Eat lots and be merry. Both Scots and Chinese enjoy eating, hosting their friends and visiting their friends.
4) Party on dude! In
Asia, Chinese New Year celebrations will go on for days, lasting up to
a week! Sort of like Boxing week sales in Canada. In
Scotland, the Scots are proud partyers and are well known for making
parties last for days on end.
Come to think about it… the above traditions can be found in many
cultures… I guess the Scots and Chinese are more alike than different
with lots of other cultures too!
What to expect at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2012 Dinner…
Dr. Jan Walls is beloved in both Chinese and Academic and other circles. He is a scholar of Chinese language, as well as a former cultural attache for the Canadian Embassy in Beijing. We love him because he performs the ancient tradition of Chinese clapper tales. We are daring Dr. Walls to set the poetry of Robert Burns to the rapping beat of Chinese bamboo clappers.
performers include Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums, and the Black Bear Rebels celtic ceilidh ensemble…
More on them in later posts…
What are you wearing? Kilts and tartans, as well as Chinese jackets and cheong-sam dresses are preferred. But our guests are dressed both formal and casual – be comfortable, be outrageous, be yourself. If you want to wear a Chinese jacket or top, paired with a kilt or mini-kilt… that is great!
We might have a kilt fashion show for 2012… we might have a Chinese cheong-sam fashion show… we will see what happens. One year, one guest dressed up like a Chinese mandarin scholar. Another year, two guests dressed up as cowboys.
The doors will open at 5:00 pm, All tables are reserved, and all seating is placed in the
order that they were ordered.
you bought your tickets through Firehall Arts Centre, come to the
reception marked Will Call under the corresponding alphabet letters. We
have placed you at tables in order of your purchase. Somebody who
bought their ticket in December will be at a table closer to the stage
then somebody who bought it in mid January, or on the day before the event. We think this
is fair. If you want to sit close for next year – please buy your ticket
you are at a table with one of the sponsoring organizations: Historic
Joy Kogawa House, ACWW/Ricepaper Magazine, Gung Haggis dragon boat team –
then somebody will meet you at the reception area and guide you to your
The Bar is open at 5:00 and Dinner Start time is 6:00
expect a rush before the posted 6:00pm
time. We have asked that the 1st appetizer platter be placed on the
table soon after 6pm. Once this is done, we will start the Piping in of
our performers and head table. We sing “O Canada” from the stage, and
give welcome to our guests. “Calling of the Clans” is done for sponors, and reserved table clans – if you would like to have your clan or group announced, please reserve a table of 10.
Buy Your Raffle Tickets:
raffle tickets… this is how we generate our fundraising to support
this organizations dedicated to multiculturalism and cultural harmony.
Food prices have been rising, but we have
purposely keep our admission costs low so that they are
affordable and the dinner can be attended by more
people. Children's tickets are subsidized so that we can include
them in the audience and be an inclusive family for the evening. We have some great door
and raffle prizes lined up. Lots of books (being the writers we
are), gift certificates and theatre tickets + other surprises.
FREE Subscription for Ricepaper Magazine:
Everybody is eligible for a subscription to RicePaper Magazine,
(except children). This is our thank you gift to you for attending our
dinner. And to add value ($20) to your ticket. Pretty good deal, eh? Ricepaper Magazine
is Canada's best journal about Asian Canadian arts and
culture, published by Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop,
This dinner is the primary fundraising event for:
The Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dragon Boat team
continues to promote multiculturalism through
dragon boat paddling events. Some paddlers wear kilts, and we have been
filmed for German, French, and Canadian television documentaries + other
Since 2001, Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop,
has been a partner in this remarkable dinner event. ACWW works actively
to give a voice to ermerging writers. ACWW is the publisher of Ricepaper Magazine.
Historic Joy Kogawa House committee joined our family of recipients in 2006, during the campaign to save Joy Kogawa's childhood home from demolition. The Land
Conservancy of BC stepped in to fundraise in 2005 and purchase Kogawa House
in 2006 and turn it into a National literary landmark and treasure for all
Canadians. In 2009, we celebrated our inaugural Writer-in-Residence program.
This year haggis dim sum appetizers will
be served. Haggis is mixed into the Pork Su-mei dumplings which we introduced a few years. This year we are adding vegetarian pan-fried turnip cake to represent “Neeps and Tatties.” Our signature dish is our deep-fried haggis won-tons served with a special sauce.
after 6:00 pm the dinner formalities begin. People
are seated, and the Piping in of the musicians and
hosts begins. We will lead a singalong of Scotland the Brave and give
a good welcome to our guests, and have the calling of the clans – all
the reserved tables and large parties of 10. This is a tradition at
many Scottish ceilidhs (kay-lees), or gatherings.
From then on… a new dish will appear somewhere around 15 minutes –
quickly followed by one of our co-hosts introducing a poet or musical
performer. Serving 40 tables within 5 minutes, might not work
completely, so please be patient. We will encourage our guests
and especially the waiters to be quiet while the performers are on stage.
Then for the 5 minute intermissions, everybody can talk and make noise
before they have to be quiet for the performers again.
Check this video from past year's Dinner
Expect the unexpected: This year's dinner event is full of surprises. Even I don't know what is going to happen. The idea is to recreate the spontaneity of the very
first dinner for 16 people back in 1998 – but with 400+ guests. For
that very first dinner, each guest was asked to bring a song or a poem to share. I
don't want to give anything away right now as I
prefer the evening to unfold with a sense of surprise and
wonderment. But let it be known that we have an incredible
array of talent for the evening.
by Robbie Burns and Chinese Canadian poets. What will it be? We often
like to read “Recipe for Tea” – a poem by Jim Wong-Chu, about the
trading of tea from Southern China to Scotland
Our non-traditional reading of the “Address to the
Haggis” is always a crowd pleaser. But
this year, audience members might also be reading a different Burns poem to
tie their tongues around the gaelic tinged words. Will it be “A
Man's A Man for All That,” “To a Mouse,” My Luv is Like a Red Red Rose,” or maybe even “Tam O-Shanter?”
The evening will wrap up somewhere
between 9:00 and
9:30 pm, with the singing of Auld Lang Syne – we start with a verse in Mandarin
Chinese, then sing in English or Scottish. Then we will socialize further until 10pm. People will
leave with smiles on their faces and say to
each other, “Very Canadian,” “Only in Vancouver could something
like this happen,” or “I'm telling my friends.”
Tickets now on sale
through Firehall Arts Centre
Kilts & Ceilidh Music will take over
the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Gardens
Oh look – a teapot ad cup lantern set… There will be incredible lanterns everywhere… speaking of which… I wonder if I can get a “kilt lantern”. The18th Annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival, in partnership with Secret Lantern Society.
I am very excited to be part of the 18th Annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival this year.
The Black Bear Rebels Ceilidh Music group will be playing traditional Celtic
& Scottish songs. I have been playing my accordion with them for 2
years now, and they haven't stopped inviting me back, we have lots of fun, so I
must be doing something right.
So we thought it would be great to bring this fun, and songs to share with the
Winter Solstice Lantern Festival. And the chance to wear kilts in the
Chinese Classical Gardens just seemed like a very Gung Haggis type of thing to
Organized & produced by the Secret Later Society, their artistic director
and founder is Naomi Singer – whom I first met when we were both awarded the BC
Community Achievement Award. Since then, we thought it would be great
to participate in each other's events. Naomi has helped out with last
year's Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner (secretly of course)… and while I have
attended past Winter Solstice Lantern Festival Events at The Roundhouse
Community Cetre, Granville Island ad Chinatown – this is the first time I will
be a performer!
We will be performing 2 sets in the Hall of 100 Rivers:
8:00 to 9:00pm
Please wear kilts if you have them – we will do a photo op for 6:15 or 7:45
Here is the full schedule
Wear a kilt and go after the Scottish-Celtic ethnic vote!
Vision Vancouver candidates for council
Raymond Louie and Gregor Robertson have attended may of the Gung Haggis Fat
Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinners. This picture is from 2008 with VIP host Deb Martin. That same year, Raymond
joined a kilted “Toddish McWong” on Rock 101's Bro Jake Show on Robbie
Burns Day this year. In this photo Raymond is wearing the Royal Stuart
tartan, while Gregor wears his Robertson family tartan – photo
VFK / Todd Wong collection.
Many of the Vancouver politicians have attended the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner – but not everybody wears a kilt
BC and Canada all have long Scottish-influenced roots. Vancouver's
first Mayor, Malcolm Alexander Maclean, was born in Scotland. Canada's
first two Prime Ministers Sir John A. MacDonald Alexander Mackenzie.
BC's first governor Sir James Douglas was raised in Scotland, after
being born in British Guyana to a Scottish father and a Creole mother.
And then there are rivers named after Scottish-Canadian explores
Alexander Mackenzie and Simon Fraser.
Read the Scottish Page from “The History of Metropolitan Vancouver” http://www.vancouverhistory.ca
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson wore a kilt to his inauguration in 2008. Coquitlam mayor Richard Stewart also regularly wears a kilt.
All the current City councilors have attended Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners – Heather Deal and Raymond Louie have worn kilts to Gung Haggis dinners, but Tim Stevenson, Geoff Meggs, and Andrea Reimer haven't – Ellen Woodsworth, Kerry Jang and Suzanne Anton have worn Chinese styled fashion.
Parks commissioners Stuart Mackinnon, Constance Barnes, Sarah Blyth, and Aaron Jasper have attended Gung Haggis dinners. Stuart wears his kilt, and is a former paddler with the Gung Haggis dragon boat team. Constance and Sarah have worn multicultural mixed fashion – Constance included her African and Scottish heritage. Stuart has been a strong independent voice on the Parks board – able to
work with commissioners from each of the other COPE and npa parties.
Stuart bought his kilt outfit
last year soon after joining the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team,
and wore it with the team in a documentary about Vancouver's
multiculturalism for German Public Television. Stuart's kilt is
primarily Green – like his party.
Parks Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon in his red kilt, city councilors Ellen Woodsworth, Kerry Jang, Suzanne Anton and parks commissioners Sarah Blyth and Constance Barnes. – photo Patrick Tam Flunging Pictures
Donalda Greenwell-baker is running for Parks Board. Here she is wearing a tartan skirt that she bought at silent auction for the 2010 Burns Dinner for the Vancouver District Labour Council, so money goes to supporting the meal programs at the Queen Alexandra Elementary School. – photo Todd Wong
Tartan Day (April 6) was proclaimed for City of Vancouver,
on April 3, 2008. It was moved by councilor Heather Deal and seconded
by Raymond Louie. Mayor Sam Sullivan and many city councilors have
supported the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner over the years. In this
picture Tim Stevenson is holding the Fraser Hunting Tartan backwards.
He said after I corrected him “I can't do anything straight!”
Heather Deal is wearing a tartan skirt. Bagpiper Allan McMordie wears
his full dress outfit. Mayor Sullivan and councilors BC Lee and George
Chow wear tartan sashes. Toddish McWong wears the Fraser Hunting Tartan,
as does councilor Kim Capri in the mini-kilted version.
View Larger Image and Story – click here!
the best photo opportunity for a city councilor in a kilt!
English-born but Michigan-raised Vancouver City Councilor Heather Deal
came to the April Kilts Night, and her family tartan graced the
Vancouver Sun photo. It was Heather who helped develop the Tartan Day
proclamation and moved it at Vancouver City Hall on April 1st.
was councilor Raymond Louie who as deputy mayor, actually read the
proclamation on April 6th Tartan Day at a ceremony at Creekside Park,
with the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.
A Tartan Day dragon boat paddle practice… with bagpiper and proclamation reading