Category Archives: politics and politicians

Kitsilano: I visit Bon Ton Patisserie and Mel Lehan's campaign office

My favorite cake shop in Vancouver is Bon Ton Patisserie.

2009_May 176 by Toddish McWong

I started my addition to Bon Ton as a young child. My parents would usually purchase a Bon Ton diplomat or a Mexican Hat Cake for birthdays and special events.  Sometimes my grandmother would take me there for tea and pastries… decades later, I would take her.

2009_May 175 by Toddish McWong

The butter icing is light, and the wafer pastries are heavenly.

Mel Lehan's campaign office is on Broadway

2009_May 178 by Toddish McWong

Mel Lehan's daughter Shaena was standing outside encouraging passer-bys to vote.  It was great to finally meet Shaena after hearing so much about her.  She had been in Japan, when the St. James Hall Society honoured her father with a Tribute last October, and when he was acclaimed for his nomination as the NDP candidate in January.  Shaena had also heard about me…  I played accordion, when her father walked into the Tribute event, and I was a seconder at the nomination meeting.

2009_May 179 by Toddish McWong pictures in the window at the Mel Lehan campaign office.

Mel is known as “The Mayor of Kitsilano” for so much of the community work he has done in the neighborhood.   He founded the Kitsilano Farmer's Market, he helped save the Tatlow Salmon Stream, he helped save St James Hall and turn it into a community centre, he is campaigning to save the UBC Farm, as well as to prevent a Sky Train tunnel construction disaster for Kitsilano merchants that befell the Cambie St. Village… and so much more.  Mel is a wonderful community activist and community leader.  Any neighborhood or community group would be lucky to have Mel on their team.

Inside the office, I discover another thing Mel and I have in common!  Besides being both cancer survivors, community leaders, leading the campaigns to save important sites from demolition (St. James Hall, Joy Kogawa House)….  we are both born in May.  My birthday is May 11th.  Mel's birthday is May 22.  (hum the Twilight Zone theme….).

Cultural Diversity for BC Provincial election candidates… Carole James is Metis and Scottish!

Carol James could be BC's first Premier with Metis (and Scottish) ancestry
2008_Nov25 027 by you.
Carole James and Todd Wong at a reception during the BC Federation of Labour Convention.

There are lots of candidates touting their ethnic diversity in their appeals for ethnic votes.  The most significant mention is NDP leader Carole James, who has both Metis and Scottish ancestry.  While she is developing a clan war with Liberal leader Gordon Campbell, the James-Campbell rivalry may not be as deep as the generations long Campbell-McDonald feud or the recent NDP-Liberal clashes.

I have met Carol a number of times.  She is always warm, thoughtful and engaging, the kind of person you could easily invite home for dinner.  When I saw here earlier this year at a talk for the CLC Winter School, she greeted me with a warm hug.  When I asked a question to her, regarding gender equity and what inspires her, she turned to the audience and said “He always asks such good questions!”

A win by James would be significant, in the 150th year since the founding of BC by Gov. James Douglas.  Douglas himself was of mixed Scottish and Creole heritage, and his wife Amelia was Metis.  He envisioned a British Columbia that would welcome people equally from all around the world, where the law was equal for First Nations and Whites, and his actions spoke loudly.  The creation of the Victoria Pioneer Volunteer Rifle Corps also known as the “All Blacks” was created with his support. 

If elected, she would join BC's first aboriginal Lt. Gov. Steven Point, in leading BC's provincial government.

2009_April_BookPrizes 025 Commander King Wan, Lt. Gov. Steven Point and Todd Wong at the 2009 BC Book Awards.

When James was elected as NDP leader in 2003, she was accompanied by First Nations drumming and stood on the podium with Chinese-Canadian Jenny Kwan and Celtic-Canadian Joy MacPhail.  Under James' leadership, she has guided the provincial NDP from 2 seats in 2001 to 35 seats in 2005, and a very possible win for 2009.

The following pictures are of the BC election candidates and present MLA's that I have met over the past year,

2009_April 108 by you.

Jenny Kwan was the first Chinese Canadian to become a BC provincial cabinet minister in 1998. I've known Jenny over the years, as she has attended many community and political events.  She is a cultural hero and a tireless activist for many issues, for her Vancouver Mount Pleasant constituency. I greatly admire how she supports many causes such as saving the Mount St. Joseph hospital campaign in 2005 and 2006, as well as the Chinese Head Tax Redress campaign.  In 2005, she and Joy MacPhail, were featured guests at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.  This picture is from a fundraiser Garden Party at Jenny's home, we are standing with Dan, a teacher and an executive for his union.

2009_February 134 by you.
Raj Chouhan (Burnaby Edmonds and Harry Bains (Surrey -Newton) are both incredible leaders in the Farm Worker and Labour Union movements.  I first really got to know them last year at the CUPE BC Workers of Colour Conference, where I found them both to be very inspiring speakers.  Raj was has been a tireless advocate against racism, and has been the the founding president of the Canadian Farmworkers' Union, and
he served as the Director of Bargaining at the Hospital Employees Union
for 18 years.  Harry is equally impressive as he shared stories about being a union leaders for lumber mills that helped improve both productivity and worker relations for the mills.  He has also served on the Kwantlen College Board of
Governors between 1993 and 1999. He has also volunteered with
organizations like Habitat for Humanity.  This picture was taken at the CLC Winter School.

2008_Mel_Lehan 009 by you.
Mel Lehan is Jewish-Canadian, and running in Vancouver Point Grey.  Mel is known as the Mayor of Kitsilano for his incredible work in helping to build community such as the Farmers' Market, the saving and creation of St. James Hall into a community Hall, and the saving of the foreshore and the Linden trees, and so much more.  Mel greatly admired the community work I have been doing for the past years, and asked me to be a seconder at his nomination meeting, which I gladly accepted.

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Jenn McGinn is definitely Irish/Celtic-Canadian.  We give a high-five at a fundraiser earlier this year.  Jenn has been one of the delightful surprises along with Spencer Herbert of the Fall 08 by-elections, as they both quickly proved themsevles adept speakers during question period.

Don_Davies_Victory_Party 024

Mabel Elmore is an incredibly spirited community activist, with one of the biggest smiles and warmest hearts.  She could be  the first Filipino-Canadian BC MLA. which is long overdue because Filipinos were likely the first Asians who came to Canada, with Captain Cook.

DSC_7740_107139 - Gabriel YIU by FlungingPictures

Gabriel Yiu is running in Vancouver Fraserview.  I got to know Gabriel during the 2005-06 Chinese Head Tax Redress campaign.  Gabriel is very passionate about social justice issues, and really got behind the Save Mount St. Joseph Hospital campaign alongside Jenny Kwan.  He is an astute poltical commentator.

Not to be personally biased against Premier Campbell and the Liberals, but I haven't really bumped into them much over the past year, except in Victoria when I went to receive the BC Community Achievement Award from Premier Campbell.  It was great to meet Ida Chong, who is in the BC cabinet minister, and was an advisor for the Awards.

P4230280 by you.
Victoria April 2008.  I received the BC Community Achievement Award from Scottish-descendant Gordon Campbell (although I have never seen him in a kilt, only Chinese jackets for Chinese New Year.) and First Nations Lt. Gov. Steven Point.

Richard Lee (Burnaby North) is always busy in the community.  Richard served as
Parliamentary Secretary for the Asia-Pacific Initiative and addresses many issues on multiculturalism.  He has long supported many of our past activities for Asian Canadian Writers Workshop.

Mel Lehan story in the Vancouver Sun: NDP candidate in Point Grey says premier is vulnerable

a feel-good story about a community do-gooder who is poised to be a
giant killer in election. I would nominate Mel Lehan for the BC Community
Achievement Award and the Courage to Come Back Award & am glad to
be his friend.  He is a committed activist filled with compassion and love for people and Kitsilano. 

In a Vancouver Sun article BC's Most Influential People, Mel Lehan was ranked at #21, with Gordon Campbell at #54.

Mel is known as the “Mayor of Kitsilano.”  His list of achievements and awards is long and inspiring.

On Saturday, the Vancouver Sun published a story about Mel titled: NDP candidate in Point Grey says premier is vulnerable

years ago Mel Lehan, the tireless community activist who's been called
the “Mayor of Kitsilano,” was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus
and stomach and given a 15-per-cent chance of surviving five years.

I first met Mel during the 2005 Vancouver civic elections.  He was running for Parks Board as a COPE candidate, but he wasn't elected.  I later got to know Mel better since the summer of 2007 when he tried out dragon boat paddling with me. We really bonded over sharing our cancer survival stories, and our commitments to our communities.  He asked me to play accordion at the “Tribute to Mel Lehan” last fall, and to be a seconder for his constituency nomination in January.  Mel and his wife Barbara absolutely LOVED attending the Gung Haggis Fat Choy this year in January.

At the October 2008 “Tribute to Mel Lehan” at the St. James Hall last year.  Many community leaders were there to support and praise Mel, but somehow the MLA for Vancouver-West Point Grey was not in attendance to help celebrate one of the constituency's community leaders.
See my story: Mel Lehan, “Mayor of Kitsilano” is celebrated for his community achievments at St. James Hall Oct 19th.

Here are some other media stories about Mel Lehan:

8 Jan 2009 Community organizer Mel Lehan wants to become the MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey but that means he'll have to take down the leader of the BC – 73k – CachedSimilar pages

NDP candidate says he's greener than Greens

Mel Lehan hopes an earlier start to his provincial run will help him unseat Liberal Victoria Times Colonist, The Province (Vancouver), Vancouver Sun – 78k – CachedSimilar pages

B.C.'s most influential people

31 Dec 2008 According to voters, the most influential British Columbian is musician, Mel Lehan 354. 22. Trevor Linden 336 – 45k – CachedSimilar pages

Picture of Toddish McWong appears in Vancouver Sun article about Jason Kenney's views on Canadian identity, diversity and not giving money to specific immigrant cultural groups

“Toddish McWong”- the creator of “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.” 
What are Canadian values?  and Canadian diversity?

Who makes them: Canadian citizens? Immigrant Canadians?

or Jason Kenney – minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism?

Jason Kenney is the federal minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism.  He presided over the Chinese Canadian Head Tax redress, that resulted in Prime Minister Stephen Harper giving a parliamentary apology for a racist tax but only gave an ex-gratia payments that recognized less than 1% of head tax certificates, because it was limited to only surviving head tax payers and spouses… most have long since died since Margaret Mitchell first brought up the the issue of Head Tax Redress in the Canadian Parliament back in 1984.

Recently, Jason Kenney waded into the discussion about Canadian identity, and immigration language classes, when he talked with editors at the Calgary Herald:

New Canadians, says Kenney, “have a duty to integrate.” Further, he
says, “We don't need the state to promote diversity. It is a natural
part of our civil society.”

To that end, the government has
sensibly ceased funding programs such as heritage language classes. Why
should the federal government pay for children to learn the language of
the country their parents and grandparents come from? It's the family's
responsibility to teach children about their heritage, including the

The original story appeared in the Calgary Herald on March 20th.

Kenney right person for immigration minefield

The same story appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on March 30th (with comments)

Kenney stands for Canada

Today, the same story appeared in the Vancouver Sun on April 1st, with a new title:

Immigration minister is right to stand up for Canadian values.

But this time, it appeared with a picture of Todd Wong aka “Toddish McWong” with the caption:

Now, that's heritage: 'Toddish McWong' combines Robert Burns Night and Chinese New Year.

I have to be flattered that my picture has appeared in the news media. 

But while the original story never mentioned “Toddish McWong” or “Gung Haggis Fat Choy,” a picture of Wong is used mainly to capture the reader's attention and draw them to the article. 

But I am a bit confused as to what the picture is meant to represent?

Is it because:

1  “Being Canadian means being everything to everyone who comes to our shores?”

2 – “People want to define Canada by how many politically correct contations this country can do to accomodate others?”

3 – “New Canadians have a duty to integrate,” says Kenney. “We don't need the state to promote diversity.  It is a natural part of our ciivl society.”

The article, by Naomi Lakritz of the Calgary Herald, goes on to share Kenney's views that: “the government has sensibly ceased funding programs such as heritage language classes [other than english or french].” 

“I think it's really neat that a fifth generation Ukrainian Canadian can speak Ukrainian… but pay for it yourself,” Kenney says.  Kenney's right… it is neat.  If you can speak your family's mother tongue, your life is just that much more enriched.  But such immersion in heritage shouldn't come at the expense of you identifying yourself as a Canadian first… and it certainly shouldn't come at Canadian taxpayer's expense.”

The article also goes on to give an example of how Kenney says that a grant for language training to the Canadian Arab Federation will not be renewed: “The government should support moderate mainstream voices, not people on the fringe.” 

The Gung Haggis Fat Choy events that I have created since 1998 have never received any federal grant money. 

I am a fifth generation Chinese Canadian that speaks better French than Chinese. 

I am a descendant of Chinese head tax payers.

I have travelled to Oak Bay in Nova Scotia, walked the Plains of Abraham in Quebec, stood on Point Pelee in Ontario, skiied in Banff Alberta, visited totem poles in Haida Gwaii, and even stood on the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg during windchilled Winter. 

I have been the guest speaker at a Terry Fox Run in Beijing, China.

By creating Gung Haggis Fat Choy events, my aim is to recognize both the pioneer histories of Chinese Canadians and Scottish Canadians, as well as the future of Canadians born with these shared ancestries.

I believe that culture evolves, and is not stagnant.

I believe that all Canadians should read “How to Be a Canadian” by Will Ferguson and his brother Ian Ferguson.

If it is a Canadian value to laugh, make fun of ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously, then maybe this book should also be mandatory reading when all new immigrants apply to become Canadian citizens, along with learning English or French.

And that's what Gung Haggis Fat Choy also encourages us to do… laugh and make fun of ourselves, by flipping stereotypes of Scottish and Chinese tradional customs into juxtapositions of cultural fusion.

Jack Layton likes bagpipers following St. Patrick's Day parade for Vancouver's Celticfest

It's not everyday, you meet an important Canadian parliamentary leader in a pub on St. Patrick's Day…

– but Jack Layton was in Vancouver for Celticfest and the St. Patrick's Day Parade

2009_March 120 by you.Todd Wong, Jack Layton, Allan McMordie, Trish McMordie – photo T.Wong/T.Lam

We had spent 3 hours in the cold preparing and walking in the parade
with the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pipe & Drums, and Gung Haggis Fat
Choy dragon boat team, carrying a parade dragon, lion head masks and
dragon boat paddles.  We were cold, and in need of warm food and
carbohydrate replenishment.  Jack Layton, federal NDP leader had been in the parade too.  He often
comes in August for Vancouver's Pride Parade. Jack said he was also in Vancouver to attend an event for Don Davies, MP for Vancouver Kensington. 

I've known Don for a few years, when he first introduced himself to me at one of Meena Wong's dim sum luncheons (coincidence: Meena had been an assistant for Jack Layton's wife Olivia Chow in Toronto). Jack's wife is Chinese-Canadian MP, Olivia Chow, and they are also friends of Canadian author Joy Kogawa. Wow… Jack and Olivia are a real inter-cultural couple on a national scale!  Very Gung Haggis!  I had dim sum with Olivia in 2007, at one of Meena Wong's dim sum socials with Chinese head tax activists, see: Dim Sum with Olivia Chow in Vancouver

I asked Jack, if he had Scottish ancestry, which he affirmed. It was on Robbie
Burns Day, January 25th 2003, he became
federal leader of the NDP (New Democratic
Party”). If Robbie Burns was the ploughman's poet, then Jack Layton must be the workers' parliamentarian.

Layton's views of social democracy, probably
best represent Robert Burns's similar views – more
than the other federal leaders. Burns was such a progressive thinker of the Scottish enlightenment, that many of his views were not published until after his death – they would have been considered “that radical”.  Remember that during Burns' time, happening around him was the American Revolution, and the French Revolution, as Modern Democracy emerged.  But 250 years later they fit very much into a social democratic world.   Layton's great-granduncle, William Steeves, was a
Father of Confederation. Layton's own grandfather
Gilbert Layton was a cabinet minister in the
Quebec provincial government, and his father
Robert Layton was a Member of Parliament and
cabinet minister. 

Just as Jack Layton was preparing to leave the pub, our bagpipers started playing some songs.  Jack took out his cell phone and started videoing them, then recorded a Happy St. Patrick's Day message.  Maybe this will appear on his web page.  I used my camera to record the action. 

Check it this video:

2009_March 129

Allan McMordie, Patricia
McMordie, David Murray –
Filmed by Jack Layton,

Silk Road Music hosts Cultural Olympiad show for Chinese New Year!

What is typical Vancouver music for the Cultural Olympiad?  I think it is the cultural fusion music of Andre Thibault and Qiu Xia He''s Silk Road Music!

Cultural Olympiad Feb 1 09 10 by DM by you.
For Chinese New Year, Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault organized a truly multicultural show, featuring many ethnic performers and musical styles in Vancouver.  But more importantly was the intercultural representation.  Caucasian Willy Miles is singing in Mandarin Chinese.  Non-African ethnic dancers are performing traditional African dance with Jackie Essombe.  The stilt walkers are every ethnicity including mixes.  And of course the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team features Scottish and Chinese ancestry + everything in-between and everything beyond – photo Deb Martin

Cultural Olympiad Feb 1 09 6 GH Dragon and stilts in back..DM photo

Still Moon Arts Stilt walkers meet the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon dancers.  The stilt walkers are children and young teens led by Carman Rosen, who has also performed celtic music at the 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner. – photo Deb Martin.

2009_Chinese_New_Year 034

Kathy Gibler, executive director of Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens, Ellen Woodsworth – Vancouver City Councilor, prepare to help make opening speeches with Dr. Jan Walls – MC for the show and performer of Chinese clapper tales – photo Deb Martin

2009_Chinese_New_Year 050

Bonnie Soon leads Uzume Taiko through some very exciting rhythmic drumming perfomances.  Uzume Taiko often performs with bagpipers.  Bonnie and I talked, and I hope we can feature them at a future Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner one year – photo Todd Wong

2009_Chinese_New_Year 043 by you.

Chinese Lion stilt dancers!  In one of the crazy moments of beautiful serendipity, I offered my Lion Dance costume to the Sill Moon Arts stilt walkers, for a photo prop… and the next thing we knew, another stilt walker offered to be the tail, and presto!  The very first Chinese Lion stilt walkers!!!  The kids had so much fun, it is always a joy to see them. – photo Todd Wong

2009_Chinese_New_Year 065

Jessica Jone is a classically trained dancers – she has studied Chinese classical and Chinese folk dancing as well as Western classical and contemporary dancing.  She always smiles and has incredible presentation. – photo Todd Wong

2009_Chinese_New_Year 073

Dancers from the Jessica Jone dance school come on stage for a wonderful fan dance.  I love the colour and movement. – photo Todd Wong

2009_Chinese_New_Year 102

Jacky Essombe and The Makalas perform traditional African Dance.  The weather was so cold you could see Jacky's hot breath steam into the cold air.  But they brought so much high energy, you just felt warmer while seeing them work so hard – photo Todd Wong

2009_Chinese_New_Year 111 by you.

Here's a group shot with almost everybody on stage.  The dancers posed for pictures, and so we brought the dragon to stand behind them.  Soon everybody was in the picture!

2009_Chinese_New_Year 118

Here we pose with Qiu Xia He, organizer of this great event. Left to right: Todd Wong, Devon Cooke, Qiu Xia, Dave Samis, hidden are Brooke and Deb – photo Marion 

2009_Chinese_New_Year 104

Here's our dedicated group of Dragon Boat paddler dragon dancers! Todd Wong, Deb Martin, Brooke Samis, Dave Samis and Devon Cooke. – photo Marion.

Photos from 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner

Gung Haggis Fat Choy is always a wonderful event for photographs.  Special thanks to our incredible photographers Patrick Tam, Lydia Nagai and VFK.

If you like their photos, please contact them and purchase them.  We have asked them to put “water marks” on their photos, so that we will advertise and promote them.

They help us with our event, because they believe in the community work and social consiousness raising that we do.

DSC_3928_103489 - Mayor Gregor Robertson doing the honours by FlungingPictures.
A wonderful job by everybody last night –
Veteran Gung Haggis performers Joe McDonald and Heather pronounced last
night as “The Best Gung Haggis Dinner yet”

And Dr. Leith Davis
(Director of Centre for Scottish Studies, Simon Fraser University) said it was the best Burns Supper she had ever attended – and she just
spent 2 weeks in Scotland for Homecoming Scotland!

to everybody.  The energy was brilliantly contagious and fun.  There
were lots of nice surprises in the program, with the Mayor reading a
Burns poem, a treatise on the details of scotch drinking, Parks
Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon singing A Man's A Man For A' That, and
hip hop artist Ndidi Cascade coming up from the audience to rap a verse
of Burns' Address to A Haggis.

But it was the performances by
Silk Road, Joe McDonald, Adrienne Wong, Jan Walls, Tommy Tao, Rita
Wong, Catherine Barr, Heather Pawsey & DJ Timothy Wisdom, Bob
Wilkins & the Gung Haggis Fat Choy pipe band,  supplemented by
Alland & Trish McMordie with Don Scobie from Seattle… and an
immortal address by Dr. Leith Davis – that knocked the audience over!

With wonderfully warm co-hosting from Gloria Macarenko and Catherine Barr….

And strong support from stage manager Charlie Cho, and sound technician Carl Schmidt.

Many thanks…. to helping rise funds for Historic Joy Kogawa House,
Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop/Ricepaper Magazine and Gung Haggis Fat
Choy dragon boat team.

We will have some pictures available for you soon.

Thank yous and Blessings to

Patrick Tam – Flunging Pictures 

DSC_3928_103489 - Mayor Gregor Robertson doing the honours by FlungingPictures.

661 – 20090125 – Robbie Burns’… – Patrick Tam photo set.

Lydia Nagai – Lydia Nagai Photography

IMG_0525 by Lydia Nagai.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2009 – Linda Nagai photo set.

VFK Photography

GHFC 2009 VF3_4418.JPG by vfk.

GHFC 2009 VF3_4664.JPG by vfk Silk Road Music performing in front of life-size photos of Nellie McClung, Mungo Martin, Emily Carr and Todd Wong – courtesy of Royal BC Museum.- photo VFK

The 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's 250th Robbie Burns Birthday Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner was a big success – worth 2 ceremonial haggis.

The 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's 250th Robbie Burns Birthday Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner was a big success – worth 2 ceremonial haggis.

DSC_3928_103489 - Mayor Gregor Robertson doing the honours by FlungingPictures.
Hi everybody…

A wonderful job by everybody last night –
Veteran Gung Haggis performers Joe McDonald and Heather pronounced last
night as “The Best Gung Haggis Dinner yet”

And Dr. Leith Davis
said it was the best Burns Supper she had ever attended – and she just
spent 2 weeks in Scotland for Homecoming Scotland!

to everybody.  The energy was brilliantly contagious and fun.  There
were lots of nice surprises in the program, with the Mayor reading a
Burns poem, a treatise on the details of scotch drinking, Parks
Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon singing A Man's A Man For A' That, and
hip hop artist Ndidi Cascade coming up from the audience to rap a verse
of Burns' Address to A Haggis.

But it was the performances by
Silk Road, Joe McDonald, Adrienne Wong, Jan Walls, Tommy Tao, Rita
Wong, Catherine Barr, Heather Pawsey & DJ Timothy Wisdom, Bob
Wilkins & the Gung Haggis Fat Choy pipe band,  supplemented by
Alland & Trish McMordie with Don Scobie from Seattle… and an
immortal address by Dr. Leith Davis – that knocked the audience over!

With wondefully warm co-hosting from Gloria Macarenko and Catherine Barr….

And strong support from stagemanager Charlie Cho, and sound technician Carl Schmidt.

Many thanks…. to helping rise funds for Historic Joy Kogawa House,
Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop/Ricepaper Magazine and Gung Haggis Fat
Choy dragon boat team.

We will have some pictures available for you soon.

Thank yous and Blessings to

Chinese Canadians that inspired me in 2008

I am always amazed by the talents, dedication and accomplishments of the people that I know and see in our communities.   While
2008 was a year for me blessed with personal recognition from the
Province of BC, and the Royal BC Museum, I am inspired by the people that I know.

2008 recipients group photo
2008 BC Community Achievement Award recipients: 45
of BC’s most dedicated citizens stand with Premier Gordon Campbell and
Lt. Gov. Stephen Point, and BC Achievement Foundation Chair Keith
Mitchell, following the ceremonies. I can be spotted wearing my cream
jacket directly behind Premier Campbell.  I am standing between my
Vancouver arts community friends Naomi Singer on my left, and Savannah
Walling on my right,T
erry Hunter is immediately behind Savannah.  Also on my left is fellow kilt wearer Gordon Barrett in his Irish Pipes and Drums uniform – too bad you can’t see our kilts.

2008 raised the first real possibility of Vancouver’s first
Chinese-Canadian mayor with Raymond Louie running for the mayoral
nomination of the Vision Vancouver party.  Former SFU wrestler Carol
Huynh won Canada’s first gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Octogenarian Bill Wong, was the subject of a CBC documentary film
“Tailor Made.”

In August, I attended the 150 Years in Golden Mountain Gala in
Victoria, where my grand-uncles Daniel Lee and Victor Wong received the
awards on behalf of Chinese Canadian veterans.  I also stood with them
as descendants of Rev. Chan Yu Tan (my great-great-grandfather and
their grandfather) who received a community achievement award for this
work as a pioneer missionary for Chinese communities in BC.

Last year I wrote:
Chinese-Canadians that inspired me in 2007

Here is a list of the Chinese-Canadians that I found inspiring in 2008:

The Royal BC Museum created an exhibit to celebrate 150 years of BC
History and BC people, called “Free Spirit”.  They also created a
life-size photo collage display called “The Party“to
which they invited 150 of BC’s most interesting people.  The first 132
people were selected by the museum, then in August six invitees were
“voted in” including myself.  More people were voted in for November.

Check out “The Party” display at the Royal BC Museum

Cindy Lee (T&T)
Hon. David Lam
James Cheng (architect)
Peter Joe  (Sunrise Tofu)
Tong Louie
Todd Wong
Ida Chong MLA
Carol Huyhn Olympic Gold Medalist

Adrienne Wong is an actor.  In 2008 she starred in the one woman play “My Name is Rachel Corrie” for Neworld Theatre.  It opened in Montreal than played in Vancouver to packed houses for an extended run.

Rhonda Larrabee is my mother’s cousin. Rhonda single-handedly re-established the Qayqayt “New Westminster” First Nations Band.  Unfortunately she wasn’t included in the CBC documentatry Generations: The Chan Legacy, because the executive producer thought that Rhonda’s story really deserved her own documentary.  Surprise!  CTV made a documentary on Rhonda titled “One Women Tribe”

Bill Wong Modernize Tailors – Bill is the octogenarian former UBC Engineering grad who couldn’t get hired in post-war Canada because of racism, so he put his energies into his father’s tailor shop.  Tailor Made is the CBC documentary about Chinatown’s Modernize Tailors featuring brothers Bill and Jack Wong and their family story.

and Jack’s younger brother Milton Wong is one of Vancouver’s important
figures, and former chancellor of SFU, and known as the “grandfather of
dragon boat racing” in Vancouver.  Both Milton and Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragonboat team member Steven Wong (son of Bill Wong) were interviewed for a German public television documentary


Tailor Made: CBC TV documentary highlights Modernize Tailors’ 80 year history in Vancouver Chinatown

Grace Chin is a writer/actor.  She wrote and performed in “The Quickie” is very Vancouver play about diversity and expectations in relationships.  Last year was her first written theatre play with partner Charlie Cho.  “The Quickie” is written solo by Grace.  Wow… now if only I could get my own writing projects off the back burner!

Brandy Lien-Worrall – In 2007 Brandy led 2 writing workshops which produced the book Eating Stories: Chinese and Aboriginal pot luck.  She also bravely battled breast cancer.
Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC honours Brandy Lien-Worrall

Wayson Choy wrote a new autobiography titled Not Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying. In 2002, I met Wayson when his novel Jade Peony was the inaugural choice for the One Book One Vancouver program.  I was on the committee, where I learned that Wayson had almost died earlier that year.  We were so fortunate that Wayson’s health recovered, and that he has written two more splendid books sinced.  The Governor General Award nominated “All That Matters” and now his memoir “Not Yet.”
Wayson Choy gives “spirited” reading for Vancouver Cultural Olympiad

Chinese-Canadians are top Canadians figure skaters! Patrick Chan and Mira Leung
Patrick Chan, the 17 year old teenager who is Canada’s current reigning
Men’s National winner  finished ninth in his World Championships
debut.  Chan only last year had won silver at the World Junior
Championships, and last November won gold at the Grand Prix in Paris.
Mira Leung finished 14th.

Wallace Chung donated his personal collection to UBC.  He is a philanthropist, and recipient of Order of Canada and Order of BC… and he loves Chinese Canadian history.  Check out this Vancouver Sun story about the Wallace Chung Collection at UBC.  $5 million, 25,000 items and UBC = a collection with special meaning

Raymond Louie – ran for the Vision Vancouver’s mayor nomination in the spring  – and in the fall he was nominated for a NAAAP award.  I endorsed Raymond for his nomination: Todd Wong supports Raymond Louie’s campaign to be Vancouver Mayor. Raymond came second to Gregor Robertson for the mayor nomination, and on November 15th, he was re-elected to Vancouver City Council with the highest number of votes for councilors.


Dr. Kerry Jang ran for City Councilor.  He is a hard-working community builder, who is also on a national committee for Mental Health, and a professor of Psychiatry at the UBC School of Medicine. It was easy to give my endorsement for Kerry.  In 2006 he was named academic of the year.  In 2007, he was named to the BC Community Achievement Award.  In 2008, he was elected a rookie Vancouver city councilor.

Joyce Lam‘s Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre put on the Neil Simon play “The Odd Couple” with an all Asian + 1 cast.  And she continues producing the annual Asian Comedy Night and  Etch-YOUR-SketchOFF
Odd Couple – Friendship with an Asian style twist on the Neil Simon play

check out

Victoria celebrates 150 years of Chinese Canadian History with a grand dinner and awards.
It was a grand party at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, organized by the Victoria Chinatown Commerce Association.  My great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan was awarded a Community Achievement Award. and my grand-uncles Daniel Lee and Victor Wong represented the Chinese-Canadian veterans for their special award.

In Memoriam:

Ed Wickberg
Ed Wickberg is known in our community circles as an honourary Chinese Canadian.  He was a professor emeritus for the UBC History department.  He contributed so much to the understanding of Chinese Canadian history and was the founding president for the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC.

Betty Ho
I met Betty during the writing workshops for the Chinese Canadian Historical Society.  Our contributions were published together in the anthology Eating Stories.  She always brought smiles and great positive energy wherever she sent.
Betty Ho goes to that big kitchen in the sky.

Vancouver Sun editorial cartoon proclaims “wear your kilt to work day” followed by “haggis Tuesday”

This editorial cartoon ran in the Vancouver Sun, and has now been circulating the e-mails of certain Celtic/Gaelic-Canadian musicians….  with the added  quote:

Islanders and Highlanders came to this country of Canada—-
discovered, settled and governed it. Pipes are used for just about all
special occasions and this is the thanks we get!!!”

I ran the following article on my blog – which is syndicated into some other blog feeders….
Vote for Kilt wearers in the upcoming Vancouver civic election!
Mackinnon… Louie… Deal… Robertson… Chow…

It seems an amazing coincidence that the winning 10 elected city councilors and mayor, all attended the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner:  Councilors David Cadman, Raymond Louie, George Chow, Tim Stevenson, Heather Deal, Suzanne Anton, former Councilor Ellen Woodsworth, rookie councilors Andrea Reimer, Geoff Meggs and Kerry Jang +  MLA Gregor Robertson, and then current mayor Sam Sullivan (who did not run in the election).

Defeated mayor and councilor candidates Peter Ladner and Elizabeth Ball, as well as BC Lee (who did not run) had attended past dinners, along with BC Lee – but they did not attend the 2008 dinner.

At the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners… we recognize and respect all our hard-working politicians.  They all contribute to a vibrant Vancouver and it is important to recognize their contributions and support to help support our beneficiary organizations: Historic Joy Kogawa House, Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop/Ricepaper magazine, and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.


  • The first time we saw Gregor Robertson in a Kilt in 2008 – was at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner….
  • City councilor Raymond Louie declared on Brother Jake's Rock 101
    radio show, on January 25th, that Louie would wear a kilt for Gung
    Haggis Fat Choy dinner….
  • And city councilor Heather Deal came to Doolin's for the March
    Kilts Night, and made the motion (seconded by Louie) that City of
    Vancouver proclaim Tartan Day for April 6th,
  • I put tartan sashes on city councilors Tim Stevenson, George Chow
    Mayor Sullivan and a mini-skirt on councilor Capri – for a Tartan Day
    photo opportunity on April 4th.
  • Parks Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon didn't even own a kilt, until after he joined the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team!