Monthly Archives: June 2004

Filming in Chinatown today for Terrasa: “France 3” TV documentary

Terrasa – which means “The Sea” in Greek is a program about Humankind's relationship with the sea.  Today I did interviews with Ann, the journalist/director for the France 3 production that is focusing on dragon boat racing in Vancouver. 

I have been chosen to help tell the story of dragon boating and multiculturalism in Vancouver, because of my experience and community work in both the multicultural and dragon boat communities.

Today we started walking up Keefer St in Chinatown getting shots of the different stores and their wares and produce, including the roasted and BBQed pork and duck hanging in the meat markets.  We next went to Sunny Day Enterprises which is a Chinese Herb store.  I have gone many times in the past, and this time the process was recorded on camera.

Irene Fung is the Chinese Herbalist that takes my pulse and examines my energy.  She then assesses what I need, asking a few questions in her Chinese accented English.  The cameraman got lots on tape and the director was very happy, asking how my openess to multiculturalism had helped me to be accepting of Chinese herbal treatments and energy work, during my recovery from cancer.

Next we went to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens and filmed some interviews with me about how my family came to China.  I explained how my great great grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan, came to Canada in 1896 to help minister to the Chinese in Vancouver, following his elder brother Rev. Chan Sing Kai who had been one of the founders of the Chinese Methodist Church. 

I find that the Garden represents the harmony and balance of Chinese philosophy and the reckoning of opposites such as Yin and Yang, hard and soft.  I love the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens.  I find it very peaceful, relaxing and beautiful.  These are some of the reasons why I bring my dragon boat team back to the Garden each year for a tour and a Tai Chi exercise. 

I also explained my philosophy for the dragon boat team: that Gung Haggis Fat Choy be a team emphasizing multiculturalism, inclusivity and fun.  Everybody is an important member of our team and has something to offer to complete the wholism of the team.  We work together to achieve things we cannot achieve by ourself.  It is a family.

Multiculturalism was also the the topic for a dim sum luncheon with my friends who represented the different waves of immigration.

Roy Mah is a 85 year old Chinatown pioneer and veteran, who dedicated his life to publishing the Chinatown News which he founded over 50 years ago.  Roy is a strong supporter of Multiculturalism and talked about how far we have come since the early days of the head tax and Chinese Exclusion Act.

Adrienne Wong is a late 20's 4th generation Calgarian born to Chinese and French Canadian parents.  She is a talented actor, writer and playwright, having appeared on both CBC and BBC radio and many theatre stages throughout Vancouver and Richmond.  She is currently Artist in Residence at the Firehall Arts Centre

Ashley Liu's parents came to Canada in the mid-60's, and he was born in the mid-70's.  He was raised in Richmond and has lived outside of Chinatown all his life and doesn't relate to it.  He is an aspiring actor, recently performing in Sex in Vancouver for Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre.

Iris Chen was born in Taiwan and arrived in Canada 15 years ago, after studying university in America.  She has worked with many community groups in Vancouver including the Taiwanese Cultural Festival.  She does a lot of community building and media relations and writing for the Chinese community in Mandarin.

I am a 44 year old 5th Generation Vancouverite.  And like Adrienne, I speak better French than Chinese.

Cheers, Todd



Final reminders for Gung Haggis dragon boat team at ADBF

Hi Everybody

Tell your friends that we will post our next race time on each night.

So… right now there is a message saying we are in heat 14 at 10:23 (guessing that they will run on time)

Expect the starts to go fast… just like in the regatta. “Boats move up… Boat 2 move up, Boat 3 Hold. Attention Please – BOOM.”

Be ready to jump on your paddle as soon as you hear the airhorn or starting pistol.


Bring lots of water… bring some snacks for yourself.

Bring a lawn chair to relax in

Bring a blanket to lie down on

Bring a cooler to store food in.

Some people use their free time in between races to: Watch other races

Check out the entertainment

Check out the exhibitions

Socialize with other teams

Socialize with team members

Eat at the concession stands

Drink in the beer garden


Tomorrow Morning, the Film Crew will attempt to film our first race. They want to film our warm ups, and our start… Remember we are expected to finish around 5th in our heat. We will need to be ready early and to use our free time to practice on the Gemini boat.


We will debrief, grab a quick bite if needed, then go to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park for a short film segment.

This will be a warm-up session with Tai Chi exercises. This will be great to help center and ground the team, to relax and remind us of the harmony and balance that we bring to the boat.

The Chinese Classical Garden is a wonderful place to see how ideas and effort can help bridge the chasms between East & West.  By visiting the Garden, Westerners learn a little more about Asian art and philosophy.  This makes them more tolerant and understanding of cultures other than their own.

Cheers, Todd

Gung Haggis dragon boat team filmed for French TV

Thursday night, June 17th, the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team was filmed for French TV.  France 3 does a knowledge network type show that emphasizes humankind's relationship with the sea.  Dragon boats have paddled over the sea for over a millenia – hence the reason a documentary on Dragon Boats is one of the 3 shows they are shooting while in BC.

The False Creek Women's Team was filmed while paddling from about 5:30 to 6:30.  When we arrived at 6:30 – they were still out on the water.  The Gung Haggis team was mainly interested in trying out the new team shirts.  Based on my creative ideas, designed by Gloria Leung of Snow Leopard Productions, hand silk screened by Griffin House, on shirts from GAIA Ultimate.  They are INCREDIBLE!

Our shirts are a shiny mandarin red with black collars with inside stretch panels under the arms.  Over the left breast is the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon head logo, with four Gold chinese coins in a vertical row.  On the back there are 3 vertical rows of Gold coins with the Gung Haggis logo in the middle… very eye-catching.

Oh… the practice.  When some of the FC Women got off the boat and finished debriefing, I talked with Patricia Bigonzi, whom I had coached in 99, 2000, and 2001 on Spirit of Vancouver (SFX) and Civil Serpents, as well as Shelly Campbell, whom I had paddled with in 2001 on the GM/ team.  They said the filming went well but the wake from the boat kept coming against the boat hitting the sides and splashing them.  Okay… so I warned our team about getting wet.

It really is a great honour to be chosen as one of the subjects for the documentary.  We are a recreational team dedicated to multiculturalism, fun and inclusivity.  Some of the paddlers have commitment issues – but it's natural for Life's issues to get in the way of dragon boating… for myself and co-coach Bob Brinson – Dragon Boatin IS our lives… and Life gets in the way of dragon boating – which we could do 24/7.

Having Andrea Dillon driving the coach boat was a treat.  Andrea is one of the most inspiring coaches I have seen in practice.  She gave good directions to our team.  And she had a little fun with us on the way back in – asking Right backs and Front lefts to paddle only… then opposites, then people with hats, people without hats…  married people only, then people living with somebody…  Rookie paddler David Hume remarked, “She sure is nosy about people's personal lives!”  All in good fun!



Chinatown Paddlers' Party cancelled

Dear Friends

With regret, I announce that the Chinatown Paddlers’ Party planned for Sunday June 20th at Floata Restaurant was cancelled earlier this week. This is due to the challenging elements to ensure a quality event within a short time period, but…

Teams and individuals are welcome to have dinner at Floata Restaurant on both Saturday and Sunday night.

We have a special dinner rate for 9 course dinner for $210 per table of 10, including taxes and gratuities – only $21 per person! Usually a 10 course banquet dinner is around $250 to $400 per table of 10 + taxes and gratuities.

BBQ meat combination platter

Deep Fried Shrimp Ball & Fresh Fruit Salad

Hot & Sour Vegetarian Soup OR Minced Chicken Sweet Corn Soup

Crispy Skin Chicken

Stir Fried Beef and Mixed Vegetables

Sweet & Sour Pork

Special Vegetarian Chow Mein

Young Chow Fried Rice (Shrimp & BBQ Pork)

Mango Pudding

To reserve a table call Floata Seafood restaurant 604-602-0368 – ask for Antonio.

Or call me at 604-987-7124

So forget the fundraiser banquet, the raffle tickets and dance…

Have a team dinner for an incredible price

– then go back to the dragon boat festival to enjoy the evening’s entertainment on Saturday with Jim Byrnes and Trooper!

We look forward to hosting people in January 2005, at the every growing and ever popular Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner. It’s the little dinner that inspired the Leo nominated CBC TV special – “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.”

Best Regards,

Todd Wong


Lunch at Floata for France 3 filming

A dragon boat documentary segment is being filmed for France 3, doing a Knowledge Network type show.  This segment's topics are dragon boat racing in Vancouver and its relationship to multiculturalism.  

Lunch is set for Floata Restaurant from 1pm to 2pm
Floata is #400 – 180 Keefer St.

During “our lunch” we will discuss multiculturalism,
from our personal veiwpoints representing the
different waves of Chinese immigration to Vancouver.

The Vancouver liason for France 3 is Odette Brassard who has asked me to help arrange guests for the luncheon. 
Taping is done in English – to be translated into
French afterwars ( I presume).

Opposing views of multiculturalism are encouraged.
Some possible topics:

1) How far we have come from the old days. 
2) The challenges of multiculturalism in performing
3) Living in multicultural/multiracial families… 
4) balancing with expectations of immigrant parents
5) Coming to Canada as an immigrant
5) What's wrong with multiculturalism
6) Where do we go from here?

Obviously, these could be heavy topics, but I think
the purpose of the luncheon is to generate some good
sound bites for discussion.  Odette emphasizes to me
that this topic is very important for France – which
is going through many challenges with its immigrant
population and its descendents.

In Ottawa, I heard Senator Laurier Lapierre address
the CAPACOA conference (Canadian Association of
Presenting Arts) – He said that people in Europe tell
him that “Canada got it right.”

Invited and confirmed are:

Roy Mah

  • Born 1918 in Edmonton AB
  • Founder of Chinatown News,
  • WW2 vet, founding member of the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada, Pacific Unit 280
  • Order of BC
  • Governor-General’s Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.
  • Queen’s Jubilee Medal
  • Founding board member of the Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society, and has appeared in four documentary films, recounting his World War II experience.
  • Founding president of the B.C. Ethnic Press Association
  • Invited by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to join the 30-member press corps on the Prime Minister’s first ever state visit to China in 1974.
  • Founding secretary of the Chinese Cultural Centre
  • Board member of the Vancouver Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society during construction of the first full-scale Chinese Classical Gardens outside of China.
  • Todd Wong

  • Born 1960, 5th Generation Chinese
  • Rudimentary conversational french
  • Canadian – great great grandson of Rev. Chan Yu Tan – one of Canada's first Chinese ordained ministers who arrived in Canada in 1896.
  • founder of Gung Haggis Fat Choy – a multicultural theme dinner combining Robbie Burns Scottish dinner with Chinese New Year
  • Board member for CCC Dragon Boat Association
  • Vice-President for Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop
  • Recipient of Simon Fraser University Terry Fox Gold Medal for “courage in adversity and dedication to society” for his fight against cancer and his multicultural community work.
  • Speaker at Terry Fox Runs throughout Vancouver, plus Kelowna and in Beijing, China.
  • Community organizer
  • Adrienne Wong

  • Born in Calgary to Chinese and French Canadian parents, actor
  • conversational french
  • currently Artist in Residence for Firehall Arts Centre
  • performed on CBC and BBC Radio
  • writer of radio plays, “Married by China” for CBC Radio
  • actor in productions “Gold Mountain Guest,” “Golden Child,” Maharaja’s Daughter,” “Yoko Ono Project”
  • theatre director “The Plum Tree” for Firehall Arts Centre.
  • Dragon boat paddled with Gung Haggis Fat Choy in 2003 & became flag grabber for in augural Taiwanese dragon boat race.

    Ashley Liu

  • Born in Vancouver, to Hong Kong immigrant family who arrived in Vancouver in 1970’s
  • Actor with Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, production Sex in Vancouver
  • Writer for Rice Paper Magazine
  • Computer engineer for Ballard Energy
  • Iris Chen

    • Born in Taiwan, immigrated to Canada in early 1990’s
    • Media and community development
    • Presently with Vancouver Board of Trade
    • Raise a Reader campaign
    • CBC Radio – Promotions & stringer for Sounds Like Canada
    • Taiwanese Cultural Festival.

    Gung Haggis Dragon Boat racing Saturday in heat 14, 10:23am

    The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team is racing Saturday and Sunday June 19 & 20 at Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

    Our first race is at 10:23 in heat 14 – in a Gemini boat.  This means we could be on a boat on the water possibly by 9:50, and marshaled by 9:30.

    This means we need to meet by 8:00am at our tent in Racer's Village.  For people unfamiliar with Racer's Village – please aim for 7:45am.  It is important to meet 90 minutes prior to our marshalling time – because the chances something can go wrong are now exponential! (possible problems include parking, losing/forgetting your pass, getting lost on site, can't find the team tent, forgetting towake up – don't laugh… somebody was late getting up the morning we had to leave Vancouver by 6am to make a 10am race in Seattle.)

    Manager Dave Montrose, co-coach Bob Brinson and myself will confirm our Saturday morning meeting time by Thursday.

    We are lucky we are not scheduled for Heat 4 at 8:33am.  Then we would have to be marshalled by 7:45 and meet at the tent by 6:45am!

    Our next race will be dependent upon our placement.
    We are seeded 5th of 8 boats.  Expect to finish 4th, 5th or 6th.

    If we finish:
    3rd and go to Pool A Heat 8  at 3:20pm
    4th we go to Pool A Heat 5 at 2:47pm,
    5th we go to Pool B heat 6 at 2:14pm,
    6th, we go to Pool Be Heat 7 at 2:25pm,
    7th, we go to Pool B Heat 8 at 2:36pm
    8th, we go to Pool B Heat 5 at 2:03pm

    More info coming…

    dragon boat practice for Sunday June 13

    We meet at 12 noon at Science World / Dragon Zone.

    This is the last Sunday practice before the BIG Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.  Are we ready yet?  Ready as we can be… we are a fun team dedicated to multiculturalism and meeting new challenges.

    We surprised ourselves in the regatta last week, coming third in our first race, essentially confirming our place in the top half of teams.  We finished 5th in the B Final and got a good boost of confidence for this coming weekend.

    12 noon – we start stretches, cardio and race preparations including visualizations.  At 12:45 we are ready to load onto the boats.  We will go through our routines as if it is race day.  A short warm up with practice starts – then wait for teams on the start line.  Then a good race – just as if it is next Sunday in the BIG RACE!!!

    Wednesday June 17th is our official last practice from Plaza of Nations

    Thursday we do filming with France 3 – for the television special on Dragon boating in Vancouver.

    Cheers, Todd




    9 course dinner Menu for Chinatown Paddlers' Party

    Here is the menu for the June 20th Chinatown Paddler's Party  – All for $30 per person or $300 per table booking.  This is a special pricing for dragon boat paddlers – normally banquet fundraiser dinners are $50.  Remember Junior teams are $25 per person 18 and under.

    Vegetarian tables of 10 available upon request – or if you have just one or two vegetarians per table seating – call 604-987-7124 to make special arrangements when you book your table.  Otherwise – no substitutions.

    BBQ meat combination platter

    Deep Fried Shrimp Ball & Fresh Fruit Salad

    Hot & Sour Vegetarian Soup OR Minced Chicken Sweet Corn Soup

    Crispy Skin Chicken

    Stir Fried Beef and Mixed Vegetables

    Sweet & Sour Pork

    Special Vegetarian Chow Mein

    Young Chow Fried Rice (Shrimp & BBQ Pork)

    Mango Pudding

    + lots of prizes and silent auction!

    June 20th Chinatown Paddler's Party – 9 course Chinese Dinner + Dancing!

    Chinatown Paddler’s Party

    Dinner & Dance

    presented by Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team

    Hosts of the infamous Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner that inspired the CBC TV special nominated for 2 Leo Awards

    Sunday June 20, 2004

    6:30pm to 12 midnight.

    Experience Vancouver’s Famous Chinatown Night Market!

    Be filmed for a TV special on dragon boats by France Trois!

    Win fabulous prizes such as free race registration for Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race Sep 4/5 2004

    Floata Restaurant

    North America’s largest Chinese Restaurant

    #400 – 180 Keefer St.

    After the medal ceremony – just walk 2 blocks north on Columbia St. from Science World/Creekside Park to Floata Restaurant in Vancouver's historic Chinatown

    $30 includes:

    9 course Chinese Dinner

    Door Prizes & Silent Auction

    Entertainment & DJ


    Junior teams – special rate $25 per person 18 and under

    Get Tickets from Gung Haggis Dragon Fat Choy team members or call Todd Wong: 604-987-7124

    e-mail at – VISA or MC orders TBA

    pre-ordered tickets will be distributed at ADBF on Race Weekend or sooner

    Earlybird Registration:

    Reserve tables of 10 for $300 by June 14

    And receive 5 extra draw tickets to win a Race registration for Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race September 4 & 5, 2004

    50% proceeds going to support BC teams going to Dragon Boat Canada National and IDBF International Competitions.

    More prizes and details to follow

    go to

    Terracotta Warrior reviews by Vancouver notables Max Wyman, Lori Fung and Evelyn Lau

    Vancouver cultural notables Max Wyman, Lori Fung and Evelyn Lau were
    each invited to see Terracotta Warriors and to give their
    feedback.  All really were genuinely entranced by the
    performances.  It was a great privelege to engage in discussion
    with these remarkable individuals.  Mr. Wyman seemed especially
    taken by the performance, commenting that not only were there elements
    of Chinese classical dance, but much much more.  Lori Fung was
    amazed at degrees of gymnastic difficulties performed by the
    dancers.  Evelyn Lau appeared simply swept away…