Order of Canada recipients for 2005
were named last week. I am happy to say that I have met Wayson
Choy, Dr. Wallace Chung, and Alexina Louie, all prominent Chinese
Canadians with strong Vancouver family connections.
Dr. Wallace Chung was named for his contributions in philanthropy, such as the Wallace Chung Collection at UBC Library. He has also made significant contributions to the Vancouver Maritime Museum and the Chinese Cultural Centre.
Our paths significantly crossed with the moment of my birth, as I was
delivered by Dr. Madeline Chung, wife of Dr. Wallace. In 1986,
Dr. Wallace Chung was chair of the Chinese Cultural Centre and helped
to open the Salt Water City exhibit, celebrating Vancouver's centenial
with 100 years of Chinese Canadian history ( I worked on the organizing
committee). Dr. Chung has an active interest in Chinese Canadian
history, and has a wonderful slide show presentation that was featured
at the Vancouver Public Library in 2002 as part of a program I created
called “Stories from Chinatown II” for the One Book One Vancouver
program featuring Wayson Choy's novel Jade Peony. “Wally” is an
incredible person, generous of spirit and enthusiasm.
Wayson Choy grew
up in Vancouver, and in 2002 his first novel The Jade Peony was the
inaugural selection for Vancouver Public Library's award winning
program One Book One Vancouver, for which summer long programming tries
to make the book come alive. I was on the inaugural OBOV
committee, and helped to program lots of events throughout the summer
and integrating it with Asian Heritage Month celebrations. We
also created the inaugural Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop “Community
Builders” dinner featuring Wayson, fellow writer Paul Yee, and
Chinatown News founder Roy Mah. “Gracious” is the word I always use to
describe Wayson. Oh… we also organized a “Dim Sum with Wayson Choy and friends”
event that turned into a bit of a roast – very heart touching.
His latest Novel “All That Matters” was nominated for the Giller Prize
Alexina Louie is
one of Canada's premier musical composers. I have known her
father Alec since I was a little boy. Louie family owned
busineses were prominent in Vancouver's Chinatown. Her father
managed the Le Kiu food store, while her uncle Victor managed the Marco
Polo Restaurant. My sign painter father did signs for both
businesses. I met Alexina at a conference around 1985 about
Asians and First Nations people in the Arts. Her composition The
Ringing Earth, was premiered at the opening gala concert for Expo 86 in
Vancouver. She has won many many awards and is a leading advocate
for contemporary music, while she still finds ways to incorporate her
Chinese heritage into her music and identity.
Oh… and one of my favourite musicians was also nominated. I have every Diana Krall
album. She isn't Chinese Canadian, but she was born and raised in
Nanaimo BC, where my great-great-grandfather was pastor of the Chinese
United Church. Okay… it's a tenuous connection.