Category Archives: Scottish, Gaelic, Irish Celtic events and stories

Vancouver Squeezebox Circle performs 1:30pm Saturday Nov 5 @ Carnegie Centre

Accordion and Vancouver's 125 year History of Immigrants
2009_Sept_Accordion_Noir_Festival 044 by you.
Accordions
“Squeeze Box Circle” is led by Rowan Lipkovits (front right with big
red accordion) at Spartacus Books.  I am in the front row kneeling wearing a black Terry Fox t-shirt, with my hand on Elena's beautiful red accordion! Usually the 1st Thursday of the
month – this session was Sept 10th 2009 as a special part of the Accordion
Noir Festival.

Come see the Vancouver Squeezebox Circle perform at Heart of the City
Festival.  We have been practicing for a month to create group
performances to represent songs from Italian, Chinese, Japanese,
Russian, Irish, Ukranian communities that have settled into Strathcona
and DTES neighborhoods over 125 years.  Plus we have some great solo
pieces to represent German, Italian, Jewish, Dutch communities and
more!!!

Spoiler Alert !  I am playing solo versions of JS Bach's Tocatta in D Minor + St. Louis Blues
http://www.heartofthecityfestival.com/saturday-november-5/

Group Songs are:

Mo Li Hua (Chinese)
O Solo Mio (Italian)
Freylach (Jewish)
Dark Eyes / Ochi Chyornye (Russian Song)
Bandura (Ukranian song)
Buddy Bowden's Blues (American)
Can Can (we will do as a group accordion march – outdoor to four
corners of Main & Hastings Street and into the Carnegie Theatre for
1pm)
Neil Gow's Lament (Scottish)
Sakura – (Japanese)
La Bastringue / Reel des Ouvrieres (Quebec)

We had a preview in the Georgia Straight by Alex Varty

Cultures tangle in the Heart of the City Festival's Trisurgence


Straight.comAlexander Varty - 27 Oct 2011

The brainchild of fifth-generation Vancouverite Todd Wong and members of Vancouver's burgeoning Squeezebox Circle, this free event uses the humble accordion

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

Early media stories on Hapa Palooza

- we got a buzz!

Hapa-Palooza challenges mixed-race stereotypes

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

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

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

Hapa-Palooza revels in fest of ethnic mashups

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

Hapa-palooza hype builds, but will it deliver?

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

The Georgia Straight presents Hapa-Palooza

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

Interracial identities part of the mix at Hapa-palooza Festival's Mixed

Straight.com – Craig Takeuchi – Sep 5, 2011

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

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

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

http://hapapalooza.ca/

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

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

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


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

MIXED VOICES RAISED

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


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

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


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

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


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

FREE EVENT

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

12:30 to 2:45pm
YOUTH STAGE

Amazing performances by mixed talent of the future!

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

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

Kilts Night Tonight for Cinco de Mayo

Kilts Night Tonight for Cinco de Mayo

Did you know that the head
chef at Doolin's Irish Pub is Mexican?

Good social event for
members of the Gung Haggis dragon boat team.  Learn to sing along to
Canadiana and Maritime songs + Scottish and Irish traditional tunes +
dance to celticized folk & rock tunes.

FREE PINT OF GUINNESS BEERif you wear a kilt.
1st thursday of each month


I have a few extra kilts for people to wear… 
so email to reserve – or first come, first choose!


Canucks game start is 5:30 PST today -
so it might be
over just in time for the Halfax Wharf Rats
to take over the
stage at 9pm.

I'll be there for 8:00pm to watch the 3rd
period.

Cheers, Todd

HAPPY 125th BIRTHDAY VANCOUVER

HAPPY
125th BIRTHDAY VANCOUVER  
I am part of the Vancouver 125 team.  I was
down at Jack Poole Plaza from 1:30-5:30, helping out with the ball
hockey tournaments. The 6pm Happy Birthday ceremonies included: birthday singalong by Vancouver Bach Choir + cake +
cauldron lighting at 6:45pm!
   www.celebratevancouver125.ca
photo
-photo T.Wong

The sky turned blue with occasional clouds, with lots of sunshine for the Vancouver 125 Celebrations, marking the 125th birthday of the City of Vancouver.  Fresh snow decorated the local mountains, yet the Jack Poole Plaza was a warmish 9 degrees in the sunshine.  The concert stage opened at 4pm with Uzume Taiko, followed by Mmm-HoP, and Leela Gilday.  The 6pm ceremonies featured a birthday singalong by the Vancouver Bach Choir, of which city councilor Heather Deal is a singer.

photo – photo Deb Martin
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson with Vancouver 125 Team city employees Kathy Bengston and Todd Wong.  The Mayor was dressed for ball hockey and he played with some of the teams, then later posed for pictures with the youth teams.  Wong works for the Vancouver Public Library and wore the Fraser Hunting Tartan kilt, because April 6th is also Tartan Day throughout Canada, and because the Fraser Hunting Tartan has the similar blues and greens of the Vancouver Tartan.  Bengston was part of the City of Vancouver Host team and was stationed at the Downtown Live City venue during the Olympics.

My role for the Vancouver 125 Team was to help out with the ball hockey games.  During my breaks, I walked around the Jack Poole Plaza and saw the music performances that featured some of my friends.  Bonnie Mah is part of Uzume Taiko.  Ndidi Cascade was one of the performers of Mm-HoP: Hop Jump Jive.

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Uzume Taiko blends the traditonal and contemporaryarts into a great cultural fusion using Taiko drums, traditional Japanese masks…. and bagpipes!
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Here is the bagpiper for Uzume Taiko wearing Japanese styled outfit.

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A large screen projected rap singer Ndidi Cascade into a large image for the crowd, as she performed with Mm-HoP: Hop Jump Jive

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It was a picturesque day with fresh snow on the mountains, and all the people creating a happy crowd.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy entry in Vancouver's St. Patrick's Day Parade

Gung Haggis Dragon entertains in Vancouver's St. Patrick's Day Parade

photo
photo is courtesy of Catriona67 on Flickr


Great
day at the St. Patrick's Day Parade! Our Gung Haggis dragon was a hit -
interacting with the people lining the streets. The children LOVED it!
Here is a picture of us with our parade dragon. Jennifer is carrying the head of the dragon, Todd is wearing the yellow Macleod kilt, Carolyn in a blue Fraser Hunting kilt, and Evan in green and purple “Pride of Scotland” kilt.

photo
Photo courtesy of Catriona67 on Flickr.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy parade entry…. representing the largest Robbie Burns Dinner in the City of Vancouver…  the car is covered with Chinese lucky red envelopes that are traditionally given out at Chinese New Year and other special occasions.  A large Chinese Lion Head mask is on the hood of the car, while two smaller Lion head masks are on the roof of the car.  Also on the car are stuffed toy dragons, dragon boat paddles.  On the windshield is a Quatchi Olympic mascot wearing a kilt.My car was decorated with the usual shamrock decorations.Lucky red “li-see” envelopes taped all over the car + St. Paddy's
decorations.

2011_March_CelticFest 035
The Green Man

2011_March_CelticFest 046

Da Danaan Irish School of Dance

2011_March_CelticFest 045
My drummer friends Tony and Cassandra with the City of New Westminster Pipe Band

2011_March_CelticFest 049

The North Shore Celtic Ensemble


The Vancouver Police Lion Dance team was in the
parade…. Gung Haggis Fat Choy had a 5 person dragon…. Falun Dafa
had a “lotus float” + drummers…. BC Lions Cheerleaders had some
Asians, as did 93.7JR Country Radio (driving the truck)…. Koreans were
in the parade… but did you see the Hapa-Asian-Canadians in the Da
Danaan Irish Dancers… and the Stave Scottish Dancers?

Then off to the Celtic Village,

Johnny Fox's Snug for some
Guinness, Ottawa Valley step-dancing workshop with Stephanie Cadman,

then great music with Roolya Boolya @ Doolin's Irish Pub

Montreal Gazette: Maple Leaf Tartan made official symbol of Canada

I like the Maple Leaf Tartan kilt….

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

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

Read the Montreal Gazette story below. 

Maple Leaf Tartan made official symbol of
Canada

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

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

Photograph
by:
Julie Oliver, Ottawa Citizen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vancouver Sun: Celtic Fest plumbs culture roots… Todd Wong mentioned

Vancouver Sun: Celtic Fest plumbs culture roots.
Great preview story in Vancouver Sun, Thursday March 10th.

Todd Wong is hosting the Afro-Celtic Dance Party on March 18th, Friday at the Edgewater Casino.  This is going to be a fantastic event as the performers are great.  Imagine putting high energy jigs and reels together with hypnotic African drum rhythms.

I am really excited that African guitarist and singer Alpha Yaya Diallo is involved.  He is going to be creating something wonderful with fiddler Stephanie Cadman and accordionist Amy Stephen.  I have always loved Amy's accordion work with Mad Pudding and Jou Tou.

Here is the excerpt from the Celticfest program:
AfroCeltic Dance Party March 18 at the Stadium Club at Edgewater Casino
A night made for dancing!
A
thrilling cross-cultural mash-up, as brilliant musicians and dancers
fuse the intoxicating grooves of Celtic and African music. It’s one
rhythm-filled night just made for dancing. If you caught the CelticSalsa
spirit in ’09, this is the show for you!

Alpha-Yaya-Diallo Artists include Alpha Yaya Diallo, Amy Stephen, Boris Favre & Allan Dionne (formerly of Mad Pudding), Stephanie Cadman, Boris Sichon, African dancer N’Nato Camera, and powerhouse percussionist Yoro Noukoussi.


According
to this Vancouver Sun story, about Celticfest… I now play bagpipes???
NOT!!! But… for CelticFest, I am hosting the Afro-Celtic Dance Party
on March 18th (NOT the 19th as printed)…. And I do now play Scottish
& Irish tunes on my accordion with the Black Bear Rebels celtic
ceilidh ensemble

http://www.vancouversun.com/life/CelticFest+plumbs+culture+roots+over+several+green+days/4414246/story.html

Vancouverites worth their wellies will recognize what comedian Hal
Roach was saying when he declared of his homeland: “You know it's summer
in Ireland when the rain gets warmer.” Apart from our strikingly
similar weather, there are plenty of connections between Canada's Wet
Coast and Ireland's Wet Everything, especially now that the economic
meltdown back home has many young Irish men and women seeking a new
future here.

The buildup to St. Patrick's Day in Vancouver used to
consist of circling March 17 on the calendar and wearing something
green that's clean and ready to spill a drink on. Since CelticFest
arrived in 2004, however, booze takes a back seat.

“We try to stay
away from the myth of Celtic festivals, that you have to drink and get
drunk,” says executive producer Rita Albano. “It's not about that, it's
much more about the culture, the traditions and the artistic component.”

Everything
is building toward the big weekend of March 19 and 20, just past
Paddy's Day, when two blocks of Granville Street will be closed to
traffic during the day and a Sunday parade unfolds along Howe Street.
But CelticFest Vancouver 2011 actually kicks off this Friday.

That's
when TV personality Fiona Forbes hosts the inaugural St. Patrick's Day
Luncheon, to be held in the Hotel Vancouver's historic Panorama Roof
Ballroom. The Ireland Fund of Canada sponsors this unique event, which
will see simulcast electronic links to similar luncheons in Toronto and
St. John's.

The next taste of festival events comes Tuesday when
the Colin Grant Band performs in a free lunchtime concert at Georgia and
Granville. Similar noonhour shows will take place all next week, and
the action spreads to places where you can indeed sing Whiskey in the
Jar with a whiskey in your hand: Ceili's Irish Pub, Doolin's Irish Pub
and Johnnie Fox's Irish Snug, all on and around Granville Street.

The
big day itself will be celebrated next Thursday night with what's
dubbed The World's Greatest St. Patrick's Day Céilidh. The Yale hosts
this traditional social gathering (pronounced KAY-lee), and a dozen
different performers, from Olympic opening ceremony fiddler Daniel Lapp
to Juno-winning fiddler Shona Le Mottée, will offer jigs, airs, reels,
polkas, ballads and singalongs.

Since founding CelticFest in 2004,
Albano has constantly sought new avenues to explore. The AfroCeltic
Dance party on Friday, March 19, certainly fits the bill.

“Basically
we're creating a night made for dancing,” she says. “It's going to be
amazing -imagine a step-dancer and an African dancer, playing to boran
[Irish drum] and African percussion.”

Juno-winning West African
guitarist and singer Alpha Yaya Diallo will be joined by Irish and
African dancers and musicians. In keeping with the multicultural nature
of CelticFest, the show will be hosted by Todd Wong who, when wearing
his kilt and playing the bagpipes, is better known as Toddish McWong.

The annual St. Patrick's Day
parade takes place on Sunday March 20th.  Take in events before and
after the parade.  As usual, we will have a Gung Haggis Fat Choy parade
entry… past years have seen us put dragon boats on trailers into the
festival.  2 years ago we had a 5 person Chinese dragon boat walking
with the Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums during a snow storm.

Check out my story about the 2009 parade (2010 was canceled due to the Olympics & Paralympics games):
Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums & dragon boat paddlers… brave the snow in the Vancouver Celticfest St. Patrici's Day Parade

Gung Haggis Fat Seattle V – a great success in new venue

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Seattle V was amazing!

Feb 20th @ China Harbour Restaurant
Lake Union
Seattle Washington

IMG_0106 by Toddish McWong

The Seattle version of Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner has an edgy feel, which pushes the boundaries of both traditional Robbie Burns and Chinese New Year dinners.  Scotland's favorite son Robbie Burns is compared to China's most famous poet Lao Tzu.

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Children of all ages enjoy this multicultural, intercultural event, which has featured the Washington Chinese Youth Ensemble in past years, and was a fundraiser this year for the North West Junior Pipe Band.

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A young drummer keeps up with the older drummers around him.  This cultural fusion event opened with the North West Junior Pipe Band.

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Pipe Major gives signals to the band, and demonstrates good poise.
  The band is a mix of male and female, older and younger, and often comes up to Vancouver area, to compete at the BC Highland Games in Coquitlam.

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The dance floor was soon invaded by 6 Chinese lions – two were lion cubs.

Belltown Marshall Arts

Bell Town Martial Arts is led by Sifu David Leung, who once studied with Bruce Lee.

The haggis, with sweet & sour sauce & plum suace.
Haggis is served out of their casings… and heated in aluminum
casserole plates.  But thankfully, a traditional haggis in it's casing
was used for my Address To The Haggis.

Jamie Foster
Jamie Foster sings the Burns song, “Ae Fond Kiss”, then helped lead a singalong of Loch Lomand, with musicians Todd Wong on accordion, Red McWilliams on guitar and Susan Burke on fiddle.

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Todd Wong and Red McWilliams, hosting and singing + comic relief.  We led an interesting diversion of kilt tartan identification.

IMG_0125 by Toddish McWong
Lauren Black, premier Highland Dancer, from Toronto.  What was she doing in Seattle?  She specifically came out to perform at the Seattle Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner because her mother is 2nd generation Chinese-Canadian, and her Scottish-Canadian father plays bagpipes, and it was a good excuse to come visit relatives.  Last year she found out some of her friends, who live in Seattle had danced, and she decided she wanted to, too!

IMG_0108 by Toddish McWong

Rock & Roll bagpipes from Don Scobie's band “Nae Regrets”

IMG_0144 by Toddish McWong
Todd Wong presents a kilt wearing Quatchi to Gung Haggis Seattle organizer Bill McFadden.

IMG_0142 by Toddish McWong

Seattle Met magazine discovers Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner in Seattle!

Seattle Met magazine features a story
about Toddish McWong
and Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner in Seattle!

Check out this story in the Seattle Met magazine, about Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner history, Toddish McWong origins and the upcoming Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year dinner in Seattle.

http://www.seattlemet.com/arts-and-entertainment/category/special-events/articles/gung-haggis-fat-choy-0211/




Adventures in Multiculturalism

A Vancouverite brings his Chinese and Scottish mash-up to Rain City.

By Hilary Meyerson

Seattlemetmcwongf

Illustration:
Meg Hunt

WHAT DO ROBERT BURNS,
haggis, lion dancers, and the Chinese New Year have in common? That
would be Toddish McWong, aka Todd Wong, a fifth-generation Chinese
Canadian. Wong created Gung Haggis Fat Choy, a Scottish and Chinese
cross-cultural holiday that has spread from Canada to China and
Scotland, and earned him an introduction to the Scottish First Minister.
In 1993, as a student at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia,
Wong was asked to slip on a kilt and help out with a campus Robert Burns
supper, a nod to the eighteenth-century Scottish poet.

Wong took a shine to the poetry recitations—including Burns’s
“Address to a Haggis”—but not to the music (bagpipes) or the food
(haggis: sheep innards minced with oatmeal and simmered in the animal’s
stomach). He donned the tartan, but complemented his costume with
elements of the Lunar Chinese New Year—he covered his face with a lion
mask and carried Chinese food instead of haggis. “I thought, This is a
really interesting way to look at multiculturalism—to flip stereotypes.
So I called myself Toddish McWong.”

He hosted the first public Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner in Vancouver,
BC, in 1999, celebrating Scottish and Chinese cultures. And people from
all over the region have flocked to it, including Bill McFadden of
Seattle’s Caledonian and St. Andrew’s Society (he’s Clan MacLaren).
McFadden convinced Wong to bring the event to Western Washington in
2007. Since then hundreds of Seattleites have showed up to devour
deep-fried haggis wontons, sing along to “My Haggis-Chow Mein Lies Over
the Ocean,” and hear McWong perform his “Address to a Haggis” rap,
surely the way the Scottish bard intended.

Thanks for reading!