Rememberance Day 2005 in Chinatown
Chinese Candian Veterans of
Pacific Unit 280 pose with Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell, city
counsellor Raymond Louie, and councillor candidates George Chow, BC Lee
and Colleen Hardwick-Nystedt – photo Todd Wong
Rememberance Day, November 11, 2005
I watched the
CTV television coverage of the cenotaph ceremonies of Vancouver’s
Victory Square. Afterwards I headed down to Chinatown to attend
the 12:30pm ceremonies at the Chinese Canadian Pioneers Memorial at
Keefer Street Triangle.
Uncle Daniel Lee is interviewed by Channel M News following the Rememberance Day ceremonies – photo Todd Wong
My Uncle Dan Lee
is an executive with Pacific Unit 280. I make a point of
supporting him as one of our Chan family elders. I actually like
hanging out with the Pacific Unit 280 veterans. I have known a
few of them since I was very little, and most of them knew my father,
and even my Uncle James Wong, who served with some of them in Australia
and the Pacific Theatre.
I have a lot of
respect for these gentlemen who took some of the best years of their
lives to offer it up for a country that wouldn’t even give the vote,
even though they were born in Canada.
“A real man would be wearing a kilt in this weather,” says an
approaching voice beside me as I stand at the memorial. I turn to
greet Mayor Larry Campbell, who smilingly recalls the fun he had
attending my 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner event.
Mayor Larry Campbell address the Chinese Canadian veterans group of Pacific Unit 280 – photo Todd Wong
The ceremony was
fairly casual. It was a small group attended by family and
friends, as well as Chinese media, Mayor Larry Campbell and councilor Raymond Louie. Also attending were city council candidates George Chow, Colleen Hardwick-Nystedt
and BC Lee. Speeches were made by Mayor Larry Campbell and MC
Wesley Lowe. A prayer was said and many pictures were
At one point
some of the vets aske me “Todd – where's your camera.” I reply
that it is broken. Veteran Ed Lee gives me his camera and asks me
to take some pictures for him. “Oh look, Todd's got a
camera.” And all seems right.
Veteran Ed Lee, executive member of
Pacific Unit 280 lays a wreath at the memorial commemorating the
sacrifices of the Chinese-Canadian pioneers as soldiers, and railway
workers – photo Todd Wong
We all went to
the traditional Rememberance Day luncheon at Foo’s Ho Ho Restaurant
following, where they still serve up Cantonese homestyle cooking, like
in the good old days of Chinatown. The veterans all socialize and
are glad to see each other and their family members and friends.
I make sure some of the supporters are all seated.
There are family members of one of the veterans, and the NPA candidates that I encourage to join me at a table. Colleen Hardwick Nystedt
agrees saying “As long as you're hosting.” We make introductions, and I
interrelate the issues and connect them to the veterans and Vancouver’s
Chinatown history. It turns out that Colleen's father was former
city councillor Hardwick who organized some of the protests against
Freeway development in Chinatown and the Strathcona neighborhood.
Heritage, veterans and family histories. How wonderful that it
all comes together in community.