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

Electric Scotland come to SFU with Vancouver's Gaelic Choir

Electric Scotland come to SFU
with performance by Vancouver's Gaelic Choir

Dr. Leith Davies cuts the haggis “with ready sleight” at the 2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner. – photo by Lydia Nagai

– message from Scottish Express and Dr. Leith Davies, director of Centre for Scottish Studies, SFU

Got an interest in Scottish history, genealogy, travel, etc? Come hear
Scotland Electrified at SFU:

The Centre for Scottish Studies is
pleased to invite Alastair McIntyre, the founder and editor of the
website Electric Scotland, to SFU. He will be giving a talk and
demonstration about the terrific resources available on Electric
Scotland. We will also be thanking Alastair for his continuing support
of the endowment fund for a designated Chair of Scottish Studies at SFU
and celebrating SFU's mirroring of the Electric Scotland site. A
performance from the Gaelic Choir starts us off. 8:00-9:30 (note
difference in time from other programs), Thursday, February 17, 2011:
Room 1400, SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings Street.


pm. Welcoming remarks and short performance by the Gaelic Choir

Baile Chaoil Ian Cameron / arr. Stephen Smith

Westering Home
Hugh S. Roberton / chorus traditional / verses H.S. Roberton /
Ken Johnston

O Wert Thou in the Cauld Blast Robert Burns / Felix

Na Maragan aig Ruairidh Traditional Strathspey / arr.
S. Mac an T-Sagairt

8:30-9:30 pm: Alastair McIntyre talks about
and demonstrates his website about the history of Scotland and the
Scots, Electric Scotland ( )

pm Reception

Dr. Leith Davis
Professor, Department of English
Centre for Scottish Studies
AQ 6111
Simon Fraser University
University Drive
778 782-4833
Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6

2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a big success… or was it Gung HAPA Fat Choy?


We celebrated the 14th Annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner on January 30th, 2011.
Our 2011 theme featured so many performers of Asian-Celtic-Gaelic heritage that we could have called it
Gung HAPA Fat Choy!

Co-hosts were actor Patrick Gallagher (Glee, Men of a Certain Age, Night at the Museum), Jenna Choy (CBC Radio), writer/comedian Tetsuro Shigematsu, and creator of the event Todd Wong aka “Toddish McWong”Featured performers were: Jocelyn Pettit and her band – Siew & Joel Pettit + Bob Collins
Joe McDonald on pipes, accordion, Address to the Haggis, and Highland Fling.
Jay MacDonald, performing Loch Lomand and “Ring of Burns”
Jaime Foster singing Ae Fond Kiss
Vancouver Poet Laureate: Brad Cran
Dr. Leith Davis: Immortal Memory
Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums: led by Pipe Major Bob Wilkins with: Allan McMordie, Trish McMoride, Brenda McNair, Don Scobie, Danny Graham, drummers were: Casandra Lihn, Bill Burr and Tracey Morris

All photos below from our official photographer Lydia Nagai.

Creator and co-host Todd Wong aka Toddish McWong with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, try out the haggis won ton with chop sticks. – photo Lydia Nagai
Fiddler Jocelyn Pettit with her French-Celtic-Canadian father and the Chinese-Canadian mother – the Jocelyn Pettit Band! – photo Lydia Nagai

CNN reporter Percy Von Lipinski and his cameraman film Jocelyn Pettit as she performs! – photo Lydia Nagai

Actor Patrick Gallagher was our co-host, while our Bearded Scottish Lady roamed, and all posed for a picture with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and host and Gung Haggis creator Todd Wong – photo Lydia Nagai


Co-hosts 3 =  2 1/2 Asians…. Todd Wong, writer/comedian Tetsuro Shigematsu and Jenna Chow (CBC Radio). – photo Lydia Nagai


Todd Wong and Jenna Chow read the poem “Recipe For Tea”, written by Jim Wong-Chu, which describes how tea first traveled from China to the UK, via Scottish traders. – photo Lydia Nagai

Floata manager Antonio Hung carries the haggis during the Piping of the Haggis – photo Lydia Nagai

Dr. Leith Davis, director of the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University, cuts the haggis, as she read the 3rd verse of Robert Burns immortal poem “Address To A Haggis” as CNN reporter Percy Von Lipinski, films Leith close up. – photo Lydia Nagai


Film maker Jeff Chiba Stearns explains the meaning of “Hapa” as a word to describe people of Mixed ancestry with Asian heritage.  His film “One Big Hapa Family” was featured at the 2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.  Co-host Patrick Gallagher, of Irish and Chinese Ancestry, looks on. – photo Lydia Nagai

The Head Table with MLA Shane Simpson, co-host Jenna Chow and friend Mattias, Meeka, Bahareh (partner of co-host Tetsuro Shigematsu),  co-host and founder Todd Wong, Jeff Chiba Stearns and partner Jen Kato. – photo Lydia Nagai

Musician Joe McDonald, sans bagpipes, flute or accordion – dances a jig, with bagpiper Don Scobie. – photo Lydia Nagai


Dr. Leith Davis, gives the Immortal Memory – talking about the “Life of Robbie Burns” and the connections of Todd Wong – photo Lydia Nagai


Trish & Allan McMordie, with guitarists Jay MacDonald and Bob Collins, join in the singing of “I Went to a Robbie Burns Dinner” – Burns lyrics set to the tune of Johnny Cash’s famous song – “Ring of Fire” – photo Lydia Nagai

During the singing of Auld Lang Syne, people joined hands to sing…. as the Chinese Dragon weaved through the crowd. – photo Lydia Nagai


Members of the audience joined performers on stage to sing Auld Lang Syne for the closing song.
(l-r Siew Pettit, Jocelyn Pettit, Todd Wong, Trish McMordie, Allan McMordie + 3 members of the audience) – photo Lydia Nagai

After the singing was over, a posed picture of kilts and legs, was taken!
(l-r: bearded Scots Lady, Bruce Clark, Todd Wong, Adam Todd, Don Harder and Allan McMordie – photo Lydia Nagai

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner in Nanaimo with Shelagh Rogers

What happens when you combine
Scottish, Chinese & First Nations
BC heritage together?
Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner!

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Shelagh Rogers has impecable timing.  Here CBC Radio flagship show moved to Vancouver in 2004 and asked if I could present a gift for Shelagh.  I created haggis won ton to represent the youngest generations of my family who are of mixed race heritage.  In 2005, Shelagh came to co-host Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.  

Recently, Shelagh has been hosting Reconciliation pot luck dinners between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.  We hosted a fireside chat at Kogawa House with members of the Japanese, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community.  In a conversation, we came up with the idea that could include the three pioneer cultures of First Nations, Scottish and Chinese.  I called it Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner.  Shelagh loved it.

On January 23, 2011 – It became a reality at Iron Wok Restaurant in Victoria.

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Here is a new twist on our famed haggis & shrimp won ton appetizer dish.  It is served with a special sweet sauce flavored with orange.

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This appetizer plate of BBQ pork and jelly fish, included spoons filled with smoked salmon marinated with citrus flavors.

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Lynette shared her Lebanese-Celtic-Canadian heritage by doing a celtic sword dance after a performance of belly dancing, with the sword balanced on her head.  She is wearing a vest featuring the Maple Leaf tartan.

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We called this dish Gung Pow Wow chicken – very tender!

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Here I am making up my haggis lettuce wrap.

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Wild sockeye salmon seared with hot oil, ginger, green onions and soy sauce – yummy!

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Neeps and tatties and sliced beef in a classic Cantonese dish

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Mongolian gold coin beef

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The Jim family shares an offering of thanks for the food and friendship.

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Bagpiper Allan McMordie and my 95 year old Grand-Auntie Helen, who lived in Nanaimo as a child with her grandparents Rev. and Mrs. Chan Yu Tan.  Rev. Chan ministered at the Chinese United Church in Nanaimo, as well as Victoria, Vancouver and New Westminster.  In Nanaimo, he also looked after the miners in Cumberland.

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The Shelagh Rogers dessert – a fusion of Scottish, Chinese and First Nations flavors.  Blueberry sauce on sliced mango and bannock, served with mango and green tea ice cream.

See more pictures in my Flickr set:

Nanaimo Gung Haggis Pow Wow Dinner

Nanaimo Gung Haggis Pow Wow…

Burns Ceremony at Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria

Victoria's Craigdarroch Castle celebrates Robert Burns with a haggis ceremony each year in splendid form

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Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria BC was built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir, but unfortunately he died before it was completed.  During his lifetime, Dunsmuir became one of the richest men in North America, as well as premier of BC.  His son James also became premier.  While many cite them for using Chinese miners in their coal mines as strike breakers – it was also the Dunsmuirs who argued against higher Chinese head taxes, and the Exclusion Act – if only so they could have cheap labour.

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“His knife see rustic Labour dight, an' cut ye up wi' ready sleight
Trenching your gushing entrails bright”

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Ye Pow'rs, wha make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o'fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer
Gie her a haggis!

2011_January_Craigdarroch_Castle 013

All photos by Deb Martin
See more here on my flickr site

No Burns Day celebrations at Simon Fraser University… a sad day indeed!

No Robbie Burns Day to celebrate Scottish culture at SFU.

In 2010, Burnaby Mayor Derick Corrigan eats a handful of haggis, under the watchful eye of then SFU President Michael Stevenson, SFU Pipe Band members and SFU mascot McFogg the Dog. – photo T.Wong

There are no Robbie Burns ceremonies at Simon Fraser University this year.  No SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival either. Both the Ceremonies Department and SFU Recreation and Athletics cite budgetary restrictions.  Are the universities so tight for cash that there are no pennies left in SFU's sporran?  How much is it for a haggis and a bagpiper? 

(note: I phoned the office of SFU President Andrew Petter, and was informed that the budget cuts happened before Petter took office in the Summer – so the plot thickens… SFU has known that the Burns ceremonies was canceled since at least September… and still nobody did anything?).

The only Burns celebration will be the annual Robbie Burns Day Supper hosted and organized by the SFU Pipe Band – which is independent of the university.  SFU provides practice space in exchange for use of the name.  I even checked the SFU calendar – While the SFU Pipe Band is listed on the events page, there is no listing for Burns Day ceremonies or the SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival.  Sadly, January 25th is blank… empty… nothing…

This is a strange departure for a university that adopted Scottish
culture in its motto “Je Suis Prets,” taken from the Fraser Clan motto and
coat of arms.  Even the University's colours match the blue and red
from the Fraser Hunting tartan.  And why call your sports team “The
” unless you are modeling yourself on Scottish culture?  Simon
Fraser University also offers a Centre for Scottish Studies program that
has been doing great community outreach in Vancouver area with Director
Dr. Leith Davis.

In recent years, SFU has celebrated Burns Dinner, by having the three city mayors of Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, who also happened to have Scottish ancestry, attend Burns ceremonies at the three cities where SFU campuses are located.   The Burns ceremonies have grown more elaborate over the years.  When I helped out in 1993, the ceremony was simple.  The bagpiper led, I followed holding the sword upright, and the haggis carrier followed, and we delivered the haggis to the main cafeteria, where somebody must have given the Address To a Haggis.
But in 2009, SFU helped to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Scottish poet Robbie Burns by having piping and Scottish dancing at each of the campuses in Surrey, Burnaby and Vancouver.   And at the Burnaby campus there was even the debut of the first ever “Dressed to Kilt” fashion
show at the Highland Pub.

Hmmm…. I think that SFU not celebrating Robbie Burns Day, would be like NOT having a Chinese New Year parade in Vancouver Chinatown, or no St. Patrick's Day Parade in Vancouver for March 17th!   But wait… The occurrence of the 2010 Winter Olympics opening on the same weekend as Chinese New Year almost necessitated the cancellation of the Chinese New Year Parade last year, but was saved as the parade was opened earlier in time to clear the streets before an afternoon hockey game.  Sadly, the entire week of Celtic Fest activities was canceled in March due to venues being booked for Olympics and Paralympic events.  But Simon Fraser University doesn't have to compete with the Winter Olympics, they are only citing budgetary constrictions.  How expensive can a single haggis be?

I first became involved with the strange customs of Scottish-Canadians when I was asked in 1993 to help with the Burns Day ceremony.  I was a student tour guide, and we were paid to give tours to visitors.  But nobody wanted to carry a haggis, and wear a kilt.  Being loyal to my job, I hedged… “I'll do it if you can't find anybody else,” I said to our team leader, being very mindful of all the deep snow around campus that cold week in January.

They called back, and the rest is the stuff of legends.  “Toddish McWong” made his media debut in both the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province, for being multicultural open to embracing a Scottish tradition, which in 1993, was 2 days away from Chinese New Year. 

“Gung Haggis Fat Choy” was coined as a word, and would follow me for the next few years, even after I graduated from SFU, and never even tasted the haggis that day on the mountain.

Years later I would invite friends to the first Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.  We had 16 people in the living room of a private townhouse in North Vancouver.  Our host Gloria hired a bagpiper, from the SFU Pipe Band.  I cooked most of the Chinese dishes.  We served the haggis with sweet & sour sauce, and with plum sauce.

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“Toddish McWong” at the Scottish Parliament exhibition of “This Is Who We Are: Scots in Canada.

Over the years, I have come to celebrate both the Scottish and Chinese
pioneer history and culture at Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinners.  So many of
the place names of BC are named after Scottish places, such as
Craigellachie – the site of the last spike of the Canadian Pacific
Railway.  In fact for 2009 Homecoming Year Scotland, Harry McGrath, the
former director of the Scottish Studies Program of SFU, created the
project: This Is Who We Are: Scots in Canada.  The photo project matched
pictures of similar named places in Scotland and Canada, such as Banff,
New Glasgow, and many others.  I was honoured to be part of their
project, and I attended the closing night reception at Scottish
Parliament, where I encountered a life-size picture of myself.

In 2004, I received a phone call from SFU Recreation Department, asking if I could help them create an event that could bring together the University's Scottish heritage and traditions with the large Asian population of students.  In January 2005, we unveiled the SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy “Canadian Games”.  

 click for more photos

Sadly there are no dragon cart races for SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival this year.  But last year, McFogg the Dog and Toddish McWong posed with the winning team in 2010 – The Wellness Warriors.

created dragon cart races – imagine dragon boats “paddling” across SFU's convocation mall.  Imagine trying to have the world's largest “Haggis eat-in.”  It was a big hit.  Okay, not the haggis bit… but many students tried haggis and said they liked it.

For the past few years, I have been the race commentator for the dragon cart races.  It is always fun to watch people having multicultural fun, and playing with the cultural stereotypes.

But sadly…. not for this year at Simon Fraser University. 

This is the year that Maclean's Magazine also published an article in it's annual university issue, titled “Too Asian?”   It has generated a lot of co
ntroversy as Asian-Canadians and cultural analysts have criticized the article for pandering to stereotypes and faulty journalism.   “Maybe SFU is NOT Scottish Enough now?”  A list of critiques can be found on

Gung Haggis World Poetry Night January 24th at Vancouver Public Library

Gung Haggis World Poetry

returns to Vancouver Library Square

You are invited to the exciting World Poetry evening,
Gung Haggis Fat Choy, at the Vancouver Public Library.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy Poster Click to view/print the poster…

Hosts: Todd Wong, Ariadne Sawyer and Alejandro Mujica-Olea

Special guests:

Steve Duncan- host of Co-Op Radio Wax Poetic

Stephanie Chou

Dr. Ray Hsu – author of Anthropy, Cold Sleep Permanent Afternoon

Cara Kauhane

Joe McDonald – bagpiper

Michael Morris

James Mullen

A special blend of contemporary Scottish-Canadian and Chinese-Canadian poets,
mixed with ancient Scottish and Chinese traditions
of Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New Year.

Expect bagpipes, a Chinese dragon, and verbal fireworks!

For origins of Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year celebrations – click here

QI show in UK – cites Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner in Vancouver

Gung Haggis Fat Choy is QI in the UK

QI (Quite Interesting) is a British comedy panel game television quiz show.  It is hosted by Stephen Fry, and features permanent panellist Alan Davies with many other rotating guest panelists

My library co-worker friend Chris Jang just sent me this link that mentions “Gung Haggis Fat Choy in Vancouver”. 

Not sure, when these episodes were taped.  But this time last year, I was still recovering from my Nov 28-Dec 5 trip to Scotland.   I was there to attend the St. Andrew's Day closing night reception for Scotland Homecoming 2009, held at the Scottish Parliament Building.  A picture of me wearing kilt and Chinese Lion mask was featured for the exhibit “This is Who We Are: Scots in Canada” – organized by my friend Harry McGrath.   That evening I met the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond.  See my article:  Toddish McWong arrives in Scotland for inaugural visit and reception at Scottish Parliament for “This is Who We Are”

I have not yet been interviewed by BBC Radio or television, but I have been a guest on BBC Radio Scotland for different things.  For January 25th Robbie Burns Day 2010, I was woken up by BBC Radio Scotland, as they wanted to know how Robbie Burns Day was celebrated abroad.  My description of Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner, followed a phone interview from a UK research base in Antarctica.

Anyways…. watch these video clips below, and have a dram of scotch whenever anybody mentions “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” or “Vancouver”…. or if you want to get drunk… “Haggis”

Bel Canto singing of Vancouver Opera's Lucia di Lammermoor is stunning!

Wow!  Classical Italian opera at it's best with bel canto singing, and lavish sets with projections!

Lucia di Lammermoor
Vancouver Opera
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
December 4, 7, 9, 11

Photo credit: Tim Matheson  – courtesy Vancouver Opera

Don't be late to this opera!  With stalls on the Lion's Gate Bridge, traffic re-routed to Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, and traffic on the Georgia Viaduct backed all the way to Main St. – I very nearly missed getting seated.  The set is dark.  The overture begins.  Flashes of lightning(?) illuminate the main characters of this tragic love triangle.  And an electric current runs through the audience.  At that moment, there is no place on earth I would rather be.

A group of guards search for an intruder in a forest.  A young woman named Lucia secretly meets with the hunter.  Meanwhile her brother, the castle lord, wants to marry her off to save the family's failing fortunes.  Lucia and Edgardo declare their love for each other, even though he is the sworn enemy of her brother.

Eglise Gutierrez, the brilliant Cuban-American coloratura soprano, is Lucia to Michael Fabiano'd Edgardo. Her first aria, set in the forest, is a showcase of trills and runs that make the lyrical beauty of bel canto opera so popular.  The opening night crowd gladly gave a lengthy applause to her solo.

The singing of all the leads is very strong,  and reaches a climax in Act II after Lucia is married to the hapless Arturo (Thomas Macleay).   Six singers simultaneously voice their own ideas of the consequences of Lucia's wedding to a man she doesn't want to marry, who is thinks she is wonderful, arranged by her brother, with comments by the priest and her attendant companion, while her objet d'amour interrupts the wedding too late. Wow! Six part harmony!

And the sets are absolutely gorgeous!  The forest scenes are densely layered with projections on the scrim screen.  The castle scenes reveal a background of a vertical view of castle walls and ramparts.

Welcome to the Vancouver Opera's 2010 production of the 1835 Donizetti opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, set in early 18th Century Scotland, on the Scottish Lowland marshes of Ravenswood Castle.  It is one of the most popular operas, making it's 6th appearance as a Vancouver Opera production since 1966.  It could be popular because of Vancouver and BC's deep Scottish roots, but there was not a kilt to be seen on stage, since the setting is in the lowlands of Lammermuir Hills – East of Edinburgh.  Donizetti based his opera on the historical  novel by Sir Walter Scott, The Bride of Lammermoor, which was based on a true story of the Dalrymple Family in 1669, when a groom met a wedding night tragedy, and the bride never recovered from the trauma.  And thus, one of opera's most famous scenes and arias was created. 

There are dozens of youtube videos of “The Mad Scene” for Lucia Di Lammermoor, debating the merits of certain singers.  But on the Queen Elizabeth stage only one mattered.  Gutierrez moved thoughtfully and held the audience's rapt attention.  Standing Ovations for Guiterrez at the end of the evening.

This is supposedly a deep psychological opera, about the misguided family dynamics, and the tragic deaths of three innocents.  But it could also be compared to Romeo and Juliet, because of the feuding families.  A simple boy meets girl, others try to break them up, girl thinks boy betrays her, so she runs the other way, and 1st boy tries to get girl back, but has consequences.  Oops, maybe it it's more complicated than I thought.  But in our sophisticated 21st psychological reasonings, we must remember that Lucia and Edgardo are likely teenagers.  Their infatuations and rash actions could also be likened to a Glee plot on television with terrific singing scenes, but with tragic consequences more akin to the “I know What You Did” horror series.

Vancouver Opera website is very interesting. 

You can find many weblinks to information about Lucia Di Lammoor on the Vancouver opera website.  One of my favorite perusals is the anime cartoons done for many of its operas. 

Check out  anime cartoons for Lucia Di Lammermoor:

Music Director Jonathan Darlington describes his personal and dark connections to Donizetti.:

There is even a Vancouver Opera youtube channel.  These are videos of the rehearsals and set concepts.  Don't watch them if you want to be surprised.  But do watch them to be better prepared for when you do attend.

Interesting related tangential trivia with Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Giacommo Rossini:

A teen-aged Walter Scott, met the rising Scottish poet Robert Burns during the winter of 1786–87, at one salon gatherings where Burns would have given a reading about the time his first book Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect was published.

There is a quote wrongly attributed to Burns “Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back and instead of dying, he sings.  While this quote very aptly describes the death scenes in Lucia Di Lammermoor, I could find no references of this quote on official Burns websites.  But I did find it referenced to American comedian/actor Ed Gardner, which makes more sense.  Burns usually wrote in the Scottish dialect, where the term “guy” is more usually found as a name “Guy”.

There are 9 operas that are set in Scotland.  The most famous two are Donizetti's Lucia Di Lammermoor, and Verdi's Macbeth.  Rossini's La donna del lago (The Lady of the Lake), which was the first Walter Scott novel to be adapted to opera, has not been performed in Vancouver.  While Vancouver Opera has produce Lucia di Lammermoor 6 times, and Macbeth only once, VO seems to have a love affair with certain operas set in China and Japan, as Turando has been produced 4 times, and Madam Butterfly 9 times.  Count for yourself  on Vancouver Opera's Production History.

Kilts Night in December

Good Fun at Kilts Night on the First Thursday of December.

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Todd Wong and Jonathan give a toast to friendship with full pints of Guinness – photo – T.Wong

It was a crowd of some regulars and new initiates.

I walked in just as the band started playing, so said my new friend, poet Christine Lowther.  Christine and I had only communicated so far by facebook and telephone, as we have been setting up a poetry reading for her at Historic Joy Kogawa House for Dec. 12th 2pm.  In the next few minutes she was saying, “I've only just met this man, and he's dressing me in a pub!”

Welcome to Kilts Night Christine!  You looked good in the blue Fraser Hunting tartan mini-kilt.

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Angela and Christine, initiated into Kilts Night culture with Toddish McWong – photo T.Wong

Closer to the stage were my friends Bruce Clark with more regulars.  Bruce is also a kilt maker.  He really enjoys Kilts Night at Doolins and is looking forward to the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner in January.

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Bruce Clark wears his Glengarry hat, and celebrated his recent Birthday. – photo T. Wong
Halifax Wharf Rats are are a quartet of Bryan on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Tim on bass, Rick on drums + Michelle on both flute and keyboards, while sharing lead vocals.  The repertoire includes traditional celtic songs + Canadian Maritime songs + celticized versions of folk/rock classics.  It's always great to hear the mix of Galway Girl, Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire, and Tom Petty's Free Falling.

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Halifax Wharf Rats – fronted by
Michelle on keyboards and Bryan on guitar.  In the background are Rick
on drums and Tim on bass. – photo Todd Wong

Christine had been sitting at a table with some people who had originally met in Montreal at a hostel.  She invited them to try on some of my kilts, and pretty soon we had a Chinese-Canadians from Toronto and Vancouver + two Australian lasses wearing the kilts, and asking for a pint of Guinness. Cat is the Vancouverite who invited her travel companions to Doolin's.  Amazingly, she didn't seem to know much about the 1000 year old history of dragon boats in China or it's 25 year history in Vancouver.  But she said she would like to try dragon boats.  And she also seemed to enjoy the better fitting mini-kilt then the full length men's kilt.

There was a reunion of friends who had attended Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island.  So while I was adjusting kilts on Cat, my girlfriend was putting a kilt on Roland – a large cigar smoking man.   Roland loved the kilt, and wanted to buy it then and there and take it home with him.  I called Bruce over, and introduced Roland to the kilt maker.  Bruce and I both convinced Roland that he should have a kilt that was designed to fit him better.  Length and width are always two of the factors that are important for your personal kilt, besides the pattern.

Kilts and Guinness and good music, always help to make new friends.  End of story.

Pictures coming….

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

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

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


4 | Program 15

Closing Night: One Big Hapa Family

Sun. Nov. 7th, 7:00 PM

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

Chiba Stearns

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

One Big Hapa Family

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

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

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

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



OMNI TV (3 part

preceded by:

Ode To A Post-It Note

VAFF 2010: Ode To
 A Post-It Note

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

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