Category Archives: Vancouver Heritage and History

Hapa-Palooza literary event with Fred Wah, Joanne Arnott and Tanya Evanson

Hapa-Palooza poets helps celebrate Vancouver 125

The largest meeting room at the downtown Vancouver Public Library was full.  Anna Kaye Ling was moderating questions from the audience to poets Fred Wah, Joanne Arnott and Tanya Evanson.  Ling is one of the co-founders of the brand new Hapa-Palooza Festival, and is also a director for Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop – the sponsoring organization, that helped submit the grants to Vancouver 125.

Each of the poets grew up from mixed race ethnic backgrounds.  Wah is Swedish/Chinese/Scottish/Irish, Evanson is Black/Mixed Caucasian and Arnott is Metis/Mixed.  I've known Fred Wah since 2003, when Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop presented him with the ACWW Community Builder Award.  A few years later, I invited Wah to be the featured poet at the 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

It would be simple if as the last person from the audience to ask a question, suggest that we forego all labels of race or ethnicity and simply “recognize each other as human beings.”  But poetry and experience that addresses growing up mixed-race isn't that simple.  Humankind has always created a sense of “otherness” to shun those “not like us.”  Wah's award winning poetry books “Diamond Grill” and “is a door” both address the joys and pitfalls of “looking different”.

While the topic of racism, and not fitting in on both your mother's side, and your father's side, was upsetting to some members of the audience, there was a larger sense that this was community.  It was a community of recognition.  It was a community of meeting other people like themselves.  It was a community that was saying “our time has come,” as Canada's first Festival celebrating Mixed Ancestry kicked off it's first of 4 days.

Hapa is a Hawaiian term meaning Half.  It is historically used to describe somebody as hapa haole (half white), but recently it has been used to describe somebody who is half Asian or Pacific Islander.  But now it being used to describe a new emerging tribe of Hapa-Canadians, and their culture – similar to the use of the word Metis.  Historically, Metis was used to describe anybody of First Nations and European heritage.  These people were not fully accepted in either culture, and thus created their own.  And today Hapa is doing the same.

I looked around the room, and saw many Hapa Canadians that I knew, didn't know, and some who were my friends.  Rema Tavares, founder of www.mixed-me.ca had flown out from Toronto to excitedly attend this festival.  Brandy Lien Worrall was holding her new 4 month old Hapa baby, born of Hapa-Vietnamese-Chinese-Pensylanvian Duth, and Hapa-Filipino parents.  Ricepaper Magazine (published by ACWW) was there with our managing editor Patricia Lim, and intern Cara Kuhane – who is a Hawaiian born Hapa.

And I saw my cousin Tracey.  We are both descended from Rev, Chan Yu Tan, our great-great-grandfather who came to Canada in 1896.  Her father is Anglo-Canadian.  When she graduated from high school, as a present, I took her to see the play Mixie and the Half-Breeds, written by my Hapa friends Adrienne Wong and Julie Tamiko Manning.  Tracey enjoyed it tremendously, as it addressed issues of mixed race identity.  Afterwards we went out to eat with Julie and Adrienne.  It was one of the first times Tracey got to meet Hapa artists who actively developing Hapa culture!  Tonight, my little cousin Tracey, is in 3rd year university, and embracing her Hapa-ness by volunteering as a photographer for the festival. 

I introduced Tracey to poet Fred Wah, then in the audience we said hello to poets Roy Miki and Daphne Marlatt.  I introduced her to the co-founders of the Hapa-Palooza, my Hapa friends Jeff Chiba Stearns, Zarah Martz and Anna Kaye Ling.  This is my community, which recognized and embraced her as Hapa.  They commented how wonderful it was that Gung Haggis Fat Choy was one of the inspirations for Hapa-Palooza, and how my Hapa cousin was possibly one of the inspirations for me creating Gung Haggis Fat Choy, as I had wanted to create an event that was inclusive for my family members who were Scottish and Chinese and Hapa.

If more families had members who were of diverse ethnic ancestry, and had more Hapa children – then hopefully there would be less racism.  Because if everybody is related and inclusive to every other race, then it would be harder for politicians to pass laws and legislation such as the Chinese head tax, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Potlatch Law, the internment of Japanese Canadians, and excluding First Nations from voting until 1960… as Canada did in the 19th and 20th Centuries – because you're gonna hear it from your in-laws!

http://hapapalooza.ca/wednesday/

Vancouver Sun story about architect Joe Wai and Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens

Fantastic
recognition for my role model and “biu-goh” (older cousin) – architect Joe Wai.
Now you can see where I get all this East West fusion stuff – It's in
the family. Our grandfather Wong Wah came to Canada in 1882, at age 16, in Victoria.

East is East and West is West, and 25 years ago the twain met

 

To
celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Dr. Sun Yatsen Classical Chinese
Garden held a Founders reception Friday afternoon, and in attendance
were old friends Joe Wai and Marwyn Samuels. Samuels flew in from his
home in China for the event. Wai flew in from his office on Homer
Street.

 
 
 
 

To
celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Dr. Sun Yatsen Classical Chinese
Garden held a Founders reception Friday afternoon, and in attendance
were old friends Joe Wai and Marwyn Samuels. Samuels flew in from his
home in China for the event. Wai flew in from his office on Homer
Street.

Two people could not be less alike. Wai is an architect.
Samuels, at present, is a movie producer. Wai was born in Hong Kong and
grew up in Vancouver. Samuels, a Jew who was born in New York, got his
PhD in Chinese Studies at the U. of Washington and came to Vancouver as a
UBC professor in 1974. Wai speaks Cantonese. Samuels speaks Mandarin.
Wai's wife is white. Samuels, in his two marriages, married a Filipina
and a Chinese national. They appear to inhabit two different sides of a
cultural divide, but what those sides are is difficult to say. East and
West are not as twain as they used to be.

In the late 1970s,
events brought Wai and Samuels together. The City of Vancouver had
vacant land at the edge of Chinatown, and wanted to build a park for the
Chinese community. Complicating matters was a bitter political divide
within the Chinese community itself -between a pro-Taiwanese faction and
a pro-mainland China faction.

Samuels was thrust in between the
two. The idea of building a Chinese garden had been suggested, so the
City appointed a three-man advisory committee with one representative
from each faction, and Samuels, who acted as intermediary.

Samuels,
as it turned out, may have been the only person in town to have seen a
classical Chinese garden in situ. He had visited China in 1973 and 1975
on study grants, just as the country was beginning to open up to North
Americans. He made important political contacts while he was there -he
met Premier Zhou Enlai, for one -and it was his idea to have Chinese
artisans build a replica of a Ming Dynasty-era garden here.

“Most
of the existing classical gardens [in China] were built in the 16th
century,” Samuels said, “when China was then part of the global economy.
And most of the gardens were built by very wealthy merchants.”

In
time, Wai, who was vicechairman of the Chinese Cultural Centre, would
be brought on as architect for the park surrounding the garden, and
would also be responsible for adapting the garden's ancient techniques
to modern building codes.

But first they had to get the money to
build it. And it would be built as a symbol between the city's two
communities. “Joe and I,” Samuels said, “decided that this should not be
a Chinese community project, but that it should be a whole community
project, that the Chinese community and non-Chinese community should act
together for the first time on a major project like this, and also that
the city's corporate elite get involved.

“I was always conscious of this cultural mix.”

They needed about $6.7 million. A garden society was formed and a fundraising drive was started.

Then the recession of 1981 hit. The donations dried up.

“But
we weren't about to give up,” Samuels said, “and Joe and I became
allies in this. You know the Yiddish word 'macher'? It's like a fixer.
Essentially, Joe, who had good political connections to the city
government and elite, was the local macher, and I was the China macher.”

At
one point, money was so tight that Li Ka-shing, who was developing land
around the garden, offered to buy it as a centrepiece to his
development. The offer was turned down. At another point, they had to
resort to barter. One corporate donor, a forestry company, sent off a
shipment of raw logs and pulp to China as payment.

They needed
more than just donations from the Chinese community, so Wai worked his
contacts within the non-Chinese community, among them Anne Cherniavsky,
wife of Peter Cherniavsky, head of BC Sugar. Wai and Samuels showed her a
design of the garden, and she brought her friends on board. And Wai won
an important donor in David Lam, former B.C. lieutenant-governor.

Lam
donated $1 million, but only on the condition that it would be the last
million donated. Wai and Samuels first had to prove they could get the
garden built.

“We were really desperate for money at the time,”
Samuels said, “and Joe set up two meetings with Lam. When Lam donated
his own money, his commitment to do that was sufficient to get other
people to come in.”

The society -and both Samuels and Wai stressed
that the garden was due to the hard work of many people -finally raised
most of the money. Fiftythree Chinese master craftsmen flew to
Vancouver and built the garden using traditional methods -no glue, no
screws, no power tools.

Wai would resume his architectural work.
Samuels would move to China in 1994 and marry his second wife, a former
movie actress. They now finance and produce movies together.

Oddly,
both men made a similar observation about the garden and its
relationship to Vancouver's Chinese community. It was the first major
cross-cultural project that the Chinese and non-Chinese communities
endeavoured to build, and as such, had a potent symbolism attached to
it. But in the intervening years, the Chinese community has grown so
different and so quickly that Wai and Samuels wondered at the garden's
relevance to it.

“It seems to me,” Wai said, “that the newer
members of the Chinese community aren't as involved in the garden. As a
community, I don't think we know where we're going.”

“That issue
is quite common in China,” Samuels said. “So much has changed so quickly
there that there is this crisis of identity -who are we and where are
we?” It was wealthy Chinese merchants that built the last classical
Chinese gardens in the 16th century. Now, the wealthy Chinese merchants
of the 21st century were moving here.

A classical Chinese garden
to them, Samuels said, was ancient history. Why, having left it behind,
would they necessarily be interested in it when they came here?

pmcmartin@vancouversun.com

Vancouver Sun: 10 Legendary Vancouverites

Do you know these 10 legendary Vancouverites?
Vancouver Sun article includes Yip Sang, Mary Lee Chan, Wong Foon Sien

Check it out at: Vancouver Sun: 10 Legendary Vancouverites
: http://www.vancouversun.com/legendary+Vancouverites/4567105/story.html



Here are my personal connections to Joe Fortes, Mary Lee Chan, Yip Sang, and Dal Richards.

I learned the story about Joe Fortes when I first worked at the Joe Fortes Library when I started as a teenager.  I can answer trivia questions that his baptized name was “Seraphim”, and he was one of Vancouver's most beloved life guards of English Bay.  Here's a great video of Joe Fortes by Global TV's Mike McCardell.

Mary Lee Chan
I am friends with the children of Mary Lee Chan, and descendants of Yip Sang.  Mary Lee Chan's story about saving Strathcona neighborhood from Free way Destruction is wonderfully captured in the film documentary “Mary Lee Chan Takes On City Hall“.   There is a current campaign to name the newly proposed library in Strathcona neighborhood after Mary Lee Chan: http://buildingopportunities.org/blog/index.php/tag/mary-lee-chan/

Here's a link from historia Chuck Davis' Metropolitan Vancouver http://www.vancouverhistory.ca/archives_strathconaSaved.htm.

Yip Sang was an important figure for the building of CPR Railroad, and Vancouver Chinatown development.  The Yip Sang family reunion is also legendary.  I contacted descendant Hoy Yip when I started organizing a family reunion for the Rev. Chan family descendants for 99 and 2000.  Descendant Steven Wong (on his mother's side) paddles on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team. Vancouver Archives has the Yip Sang project online: http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/archives/digitized/Yip_Sang/index.htm

Wong Foon Sien was a pioneer in fighting for the repeal of the Chinese
Excusion Act in 1947, and asking for redress for the Chinese Head Tax. 
Here's a good story about Wong Foon Sien, by my friend Larry Wong
http://www.vancouverhistory.ca/archives_foon_sien.htm

Dal Richards at the 2010 Canada Day celebrations at Kitsilano Showboat stage – photo T. Wong

I have known Vancouver-born Dal Richards for the past few years from our roles on Canadian Club Vancouver.  I had the honour of being included with Dal for the BC Royal Museum's “The Party”centrepiece display for the 150th anniversary
exhibition – titled Free Spirit: Stories of You, Me and BC – The Party featured 150 British Columbians who’ve helped shape the province. http://www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Content_Files/Files/Press%20Room/stories/RBCMNewsletterAugv6.pdf

Nobody born in Scotland?

Lachlan Hamilton, CPR surveyor and alderman might have been of Scottish ancestry, as were many of Vancouver's pioneers, but a google search isn't revealing anything so far.  Sam Greer is listed as born in Ireland.  Major Skitt Matthews, who started the Vancouver Archives, was born in Wales.

A google search on Alfred Larwill reveals more about the history of Larwill Park, formerly the Cambie street Grounds, and now a parking lot, and the proposed site of a new Vancouver Art Gallery, where the Olympics hosted the Live City Downtown site.

Interesting how 3 of the 10, were evicted (or almost) from their homes: Larwill from the Cambie Street Grounds, Greer from the CPR lands, and Fortes nearly from his shack on English Bay – if not for a blockade of 100 people.  His house was moved to the present location of the English Bay bandstand, where a plaque now commemorates Joe Fortes.

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.

IMG_0580
Uzume Taiko blends the traditonal and contemporaryarts into a great cultural fusion using Taiko drums, traditional Japanese masks…. and bagpipes!

IMG_0575
Here is the bagpiper for Uzume Taiko wearing Japanese styled outfit.

IMG_0589
A large screen projected rap singer Ndidi Cascade into a large image for the crowd, as she performed with Mm-HoP: Hop Jump Jive

IMG_0642

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

Hogan's Alley Cafe: Best Coffee Shop to have a Christmas Eve snack at

Hogan's Alley Cafe coffee shop acknowledges Vancouver's Black History

2010_December24 014

Hogan's Alley Cafe is a new coffee shop on the edge of Chinatown.  It's along the historic “Hogan's Alley” area  at the corner of Union and Gore, just at the East end of the block, down from the Jimi Hendrix Shrine @ Main & Union, off the lane.

I asked owner Jennifer Halley why she re-named the former Bean Around the World, as Hogan's Alley.  Her answer simply was to reflect the historical nature of Vancouver's heritage.  Eventually, she would like to add more artwork and artifacts to acknowledge the lost chapter of  Vancouver's only Black neighborhood, which was torn down to create the Georgia Viaduct connector to Prior St.

We chatted about the area, and asked if she knew about Black History Month in February.  Jennifer said that some of the organizers had just been in that morning and were looking to set something up in the new year, as one of them is Terry Hunter, creator of the Heart of the City Festival with his partner Savannah Walling.  I shared with Jennifer, that I had been featured in the recent Heart of the City Festival, when I moderated a showing of the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy.  My great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan, had ministered at the old Chinese United Church, which used to stand at the Northeast corner of Pender and Dunlevy St., before it was torn down in the 70's to make way for condominiums.  My grandmother and her siblings, as well as my parents all went to Strathcona Elementary School.  The houses they lived in still stand on Pender and Princess Streets.

2010_December24 070

Food!  I asked Jennifer for the house specialties.  She made me an Americano coffee and served me up one of the pan-pressed eggwich with feta cheese and spinach.  Delicious!  But the favorite at the cafe is the eggwich with bacon!  Already sold out  🙁

2010_December24 012

Jennifer takes a pose on top of the coffee maker, after she climbed onto the top of the counter.  And yes… she is 7 months pregnant.

It was a wonderful visit a a new-to-me coffee shop, and a great meeting with Jennifer and her husband Mike!

Check out the Hogan's Alley Memorial Project Blog
http://hogansalleyproject.blogspot.com/

More later…  Merry Christmas.

Arts Club Theatre adds a new play to Vancouver's Holiday Theatre repertoire with Patron Saint of Stanley Park

Patron Saint of Stanley Park, written by
Hiro Kanagawa, is welcome addition to Arts Club Theatre's Vancouver's Holiday Theatre repertoire

The Patron Saint of Stanley Park
Arts Club Revue Theatre
written by Hiro Kanagawa
Starring Jillian Fargey, Brian
Linds, Derek Metz, introducing
Valsy Bergeron and Joseph Gustafson
Director Stephen Drover

Think of Christmas in Stanley Park, and we normally think Bright Lights Christmas Train… but if it was December 2006, there was an ice storm that destroyed many trees in Stanley Park.

Now imagine that a teen-aged girl and her techno-geek younger brother are going to Stanley Park to lay some flowers in memory of their father who mysteriously disappeared on Christmas Eve last year, while flying his seaplane to Vancouver Island while dressed in a Santa suit.  They are supposed to be taking the bus to their Uncle's Christmas Dinner on the North Shore.  But their mother is pre-occupied working two jobs.  They are each working out their grief in different ways, acknowledgement, denial and false hope.

We are introduced to Skookum Pete, a homeless man in Stanley Park, who speaks to the audience, breaking down the fourth wall.  Pete talks about the park, the weather, and about the voices he hears – through his fillings!  Brian Linds does a wonderful job playing Pete.  He is friendly and the audience quickly builds trust, while laughing with Pete at his distorted yet perceptive view of society.  Pete pushes a shopping cart and carries a torch with a cheese grater to protect his lantern.

Valsy Bergeron wonderfully plays the older sister Jennifer, on the brink of womanhood, looking out for her brother Josh, played by a young Joseph Gustafson.  They easily capture the family dynamics of push and pull, caught between Jennifer's rebellion against her mother, and her wish to memorialize her father.  Meanwhile Josh continually asserts that he believes that their father will turn up somehow, while recognizing that their mother is spending lots of her time at work.

The Arts Club has really developed a Christmas theatre repertoire for Vancouver.  “It's a Wonderful Life” and “White Christmas” are currently playing at the Granville Island Stage and the Stanley Industrial Arts Alliance Stage.  They have also brought original theatre to Vancouver for Christmas with Nicola Cavendish's “It's Snowing on Saltspring” and Ann Mortifee's “Reflections of Crooked Walking”, as well as “Beauty and the Beast” in past years.  

“The Patron Saint of Stanley Park” was commissioned to Vancouver area playwright/actor Hiro Kanagawa as part of the Silver Commission, helping to develop new work.  Kanagawa is probably more familiar to Vancouver television audiences on many Vancouver filmed shows such as Caprica, X-Files, Highlander,  Smallville (as Principal Kwan), and Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet In Heaven.  Kanagawa often appears on stage, and was recently in “After the Quake” at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.   His past work has also included “White Balance” and he wrote “Tiger of Malaya.”

This family Christmas tale fantastically integrates Science Fiction, mythology and Stanley Park icons.  It is amazing to think there once really was a signal tower and bunker on Prospect Point, as there houses along Brockton Point.  Kangawa wanted to incorporate elements of Vancouver such as seaplanes into the play, to help build Vancouver's own theatrical references and recognizability.  And the audience loves it!  People can relate to the huge trees in Stanley Park and imagine the trees crashing down during the infamous 2006 windstorm that dramatically re-arranged the landscape of the park.

The multi-leveled stage is plain, covered with grays.  At first it appears boring.  But it soon comes to life, full of surprises as “trees” drop from the ceiling, darkness envelopes the theatre during the storm sequence, and bright lights appear in unexpected places.  Stage direction is clever and inventive, making good use of the levels, and the projections into the audience.  I am also pleased to note that music is by Noah Drew, whom I've known since he was a child 24 years ago.  Drew has matured into one of the city's finest theatre sound composers.  His work is subtle and unobtrusive, while being ambient and enhancing to the action on stage.

The play development is good.  At the end of the first act, the children have been rescued during the storm by Skookum Pete, meanwhile their mother is frantic and trying to reach her children by phone.  This perfectly sets up the second act for revelations for each of the characters, as well as resolutions to their issues.  There are some wonderful surprises in the second act which I won't reveal.  This play is definitely suitable for families, as the young characters carry the play along with Skookum Pete.  But as expected of a Christmas play, we are encouraged to empathetically share emotions with the characters, and discover what makes Christmas meaningful for each of us, while recognizing what is also meaningful for others.

Red Letters is a Canadian Musical about love, family, tragedy and a dark time in Canada's history


Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre is doing their part to contribute to the Canadian theatre repertoire.  Red Letters is an original musical about love, family, history and tragedy.  The story spans decades, continents and generations.  It is also set during Canada's pre-multicultural age, when Canada had a discriminatory head tax against any person of Chinese ancestry, which forcibly kept families apart.

I was fortunate to see the stage reading, while the musical was still in development.   Producer Joyce Lam had assembled a very talented collection of actors to help workshop the work.  The music was lyrical and soaring.  Kathy Leung wrote the book, and had interviewed many people whose lives and families were affected by the head tax, and crafted a story which Alan Bau has set to music and song.

I am looking forward to seeing the full production of Red Letters, which will run ambitiously in Vancouver, Richmond and Victoria.  If VACT's production of Flower Drum Song set their standard of excellence, then you will want to bring your friends and see this show!

Vancouver:
Roundhouse Performance Centre

November 25 to December 4, 2010

Richmond:
Gateway Theatre Studio

December 29, 2010 to January 8, 2011

Victoria:
Metro Theatre

January 12 to 16, 2011



For
Immediate Release

MEDIA RELEASE
 
VANCOUVER
ASIAN CANADIAN THEATRE PREMIERES ITS FIRST ORIGINAL MUSICAL, ‘RED
LETTERS’

 
VANCOUVER,
BC

(November 1, 2010) – Following the success of 2009’s production Rodgers and
Hammerstein’s FLOWER DRUM SONG, Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (VACT)
is set to present the Canadian Premiere of its very first original production, a
musical by creator and songwriter Alan
Bau
and writer Kathy Leung. RED LETTERS is a period romance between
a young Chinese couple both separated by distance and torn apart by Canada’s
imposing of a head tax on new immigrants and eventually, the Exclusion Act of
1923.

 
The
story begins in present day as Ping rediscovers the love letters that his
parents wrote to each other when his father Shen immigrated to Vancouver from
China in 1922. Young Shen leaves his wife behind with the high hopes of making
his fortune in Canada, or “Gold Mountain” as it was coined, and earning enough
money to pay the head taxes to bring over his childhood sweetheart, Mei, and
their new baby son, Ping. Once in Vancouver, he finds support from all the
bachelors in Chinatown, but especially from his employer and sponsor, Boss. But
Shen also has to struggle against the harsh reality of language and racism. As
the final act unfolds, the main characters show their resilience as they strive
to maintain the dream of a better life in Canada for their
son.

 
VACT
has assembled a strong cast of local Asian-Canadian talent under the leadership
of producer Joyce Lam and director
Andy Maton, with musical direction
by Yawen Wang and choreography by Vincent Tong. The cast includes FLOWER
DRUM SONG alumni Rosie Simon, Jimmy Yi and Isaac Kwok and newcomers to VACT, Alan Wong, Alvin Tran, Christopher Kim Sing and Ryan Erwin. Rosie Simon has recently
been seen in the highly successful Arts Club Theatre Company run of THE
25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE.

 
“RED
LETTERS humanizes what many people in Canada may only see as a historical
political policy,” say director Andy Maton. “To portray the emotional life of
individuals as the effect of a governmental or bureaucratic decision is very
exciting.”

 
ABOUT
VACT:

Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre is dedicated to showcasing Asian-Canadian
cultural stories and actors in a contemporary setting. VACT uniquely displays
“surtitles” transcribed in Cantonese to encourage Vancouver’s Chinese immigrant
population to enjoy English-speaking theatre.

 
RED
LETTERS performances:

Vancouver:
Roundhouse Performance Centre

November 25 to December 4, 2010

Richmond:
Gateway Theatre Studio

December 29, 2010 to January 8, 2011

Victoria:
Metro Theatre

January 12 to 16, 2011

For
more info: www.vact.ca or call (604) 638-5537  | For tickets: www.vact.ca  or 
ticketstonight.ca

30 –

Paul Yee @ Vancouver Museum, Nov 18 book launch for “I am Canada: Blood and Iron”

Paul Yee launches his new children's fiction novel:  Blood and Iron – part of the “I Am Canada” young readers series from Scholastic.

7:00 to 8:30 PM FREE

Museum of Vancouver – Studio

1100 Chestnut Street
Vancouver, BC

Paul Yee reads and
discusses his latest book, I Am Canada: Blood and Iron, Building the
Railway.

I Am Canada: Blood and Iron, Heen, is written as a diary of a young Chinese teen who comes to Canada with his father to help build the CPR railway in the Fraser Canyon.

From a teenage perspective, it struggles with the sacrifices made by Chinese labourers, leaving behind loved ones in order to provide for their families in China, as well as staying alive during the dangerous work.  Family loyalty and responsibility is also an issue, as the teen grows into a young man.From 7:00 to 8:30 PM FREE

This event is co-presented by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society
and the Museum of Vancouver. I Am Canada: Blood and Iron will be
available for sale by Sitka Books & Art.

This is a fun easy read, which I quickly read over a few days.  The story is gripping and gives lots of information to the building of the CPR.  It made my summer time visit to Craigellachie, site of the Last Spike, even more insightful as I found information about the Chinese labourers not in the gift shop and book store, but only on pictures posted on the side of the building.  Racism is addressed in this book in a matter of fact educational manner.   It is funny to have the Scottish rail workers called “Red Beards”.

VAFF closes out with a Big Hapa feeling!

photo
Jeff Chiba Stearns (far right) gives fist bumps to Todd Wong, Jason Karman and Julia Kwan.  Jeff's film “One Big Hapa Family” closed out the 14th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival

Vaff-Angelina
Film maker Angelina Cantado (centre) attended the screening of her film Sikat on Friday Night's program “Promised Lands“, which featured Phillipine-North American films. “Sikat” is a tender story about a Filipina domestic worker, who looks after the two children and does the laundry of a middle class Canadian family.  It is

Vaff_vets
Chinese Canadian WW2 veterans came on Sunday afternoon for the screening of Redress Remixed.  Left to right: Frank Wong, Tommy Wong, ??, Lesley Chan, Alec Louie, Todd Wong.  Frank Wong is interviewed in the movie, directed by Lesley Chan

Vaff_Watada

Lt. Watada is a film about an US soldier who refused to go to deploy to Iraq, because he felt that
the war is illegal and a violation of his constitutional oath. “Watada described the war as illegal
and immoral and founded on deception. and offered twice to go to Afghanistan – a war he considered
legitimate – but his commanders said that granting such a request would
mean there was something wrong with the war in Iraq.” – This film screened on Saturday.

Vaff_Jeff_Barb
The buzz was big for the fully-packed theatre closing night screening of One Big Hapa Family, preceded by a short film titled
Ode to a Post-It Note, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the 3M invention.

VAFF 2010: Ode To A Post-It NoteFollowing One Big

Vancouver Sun features Heart in the City Festival – Generations: The Chan Legacy is the 1st event listed in “At A Glance”

Generations: The Chan Legacy” is the top feature of the Vancouver Sun's “Festival at a Glance”

Generations:
The Chan Legacy – features the history of Chinese Canadians told
through 5 generations of descendants from Rev. Chan Yu Tan who arrived
in Canada in 1896, following his elder brother's footsteps to minister
to Chinese pioneers. Community service is a featured story in each generation of this CBC documentary.

7:30pm  Thursday Oct 28

Chinese Cultural Centre Museum 555 Columbia.

http://www.heartofthecityfestival.com/program/thursday-october-28/


I attended the Opening Gala for the Heart of the City Festival 2pm at Carnegie Centre.  Special guest was Lt. Gov. Steven Point.  He was very funny and serious, sharing stories about his first visits to Main & Hastings as a young law student. 
This pictures features the Carnegie Jazz Band playing “Sweet Georgia Brown

Great news – Vancouver Sun ran a story on the front page their Arts Section.  They featured a sidebar story “At a Glance” and the first event listed is Generations: The Chan Legacy!

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