Monthly Archives: January 2007

SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival – Dragon Cart Races + Human Curling

SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival: A success with Dragon Cart Races + Human Curling

Human curling made it's world debut as the first event of the SFU Gung
Haggis Fat Choy Festival.  Car tires were fitted onto a wooden
platform with roller wheels, and floated easily across the SFU
Convecation Mall towards a target with points.  Human contestants
sat upon each “rock” as their team mates gave a good push  to
launch them towards the target.

It was all part of the 2nd annual SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival,
which aims to bring the growing Asian student population together with
Simon Fraser University's Scottish traditions.  Rather than create
a traditional “Highland Games” the SFU Recreation department approached
SFU alumni Todd Wong, to help them create a culturally inclusive and
interactive new approach. 

Wong had first donned a kilt for the SFU Robbie Burns Day celebrations
as a student in 1993, and the 5th generation Chinese-Canadian was
inspired by a new approach to multiculturalism, by learning about
“Scottish Canadian” culture and history.  In 1998, Wong created
the first Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner blending together Chinese New
Year traditions with a traditional Robbie Burns dinner.  Each
year, the event grew until it reached 570 people at the Float
Restaurant in Vancouver's Chinatown.  Last year's dinner served
430 people.

In a “Gung Haggis” spirit of interculturalism, Dragon Cart racing was
launched in 2005.  Teams  of 7 (six paddlers + one
steersperson) pretend they are in traditional Chinese dragon boats, and
race against a rival team to the finish line.  This has become a
fun event with such team names as the CAC Bananas, the High Rollers,
and The Haggis Punters – who eventually became the winners of the
Dragon Cart Races.  Teams wear Chinese and Scottish inspired
costumes, hats and outfits.  Gung Haggis Fat Choy creator, Todd
Wong, was the play by play commentor for the race finals in the
afternoon.  He spiced up the commentating with trivia about dragon
boat history, Simon Fraser, and both Scotland and China.

There was also an event to create a world's record of haggis
eaters.  About 70 people took the challenge to be part of a
record-setting team – many for the first time trying haggis.  The
number was far short of the expected audience of 400 for the Gung
Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year banquet that will be held
Sunday, January 26th.  But the atmosphere of fun, cultural openess
and sharing, and surprises was equally expressed.  

Traditional highland dancing was presented by the SFU Celtic Dance
Club, and a lion dance was presented by the SFU Kung Fu Club.  The
SFU Ceremonies department had a Scottish-inspired platform party that
visits each of SFU's campuses in Burnaby, Surrey and downtown
Vancouver.  Frank Campbell gave a very entertaining reading of the
Burns poem “Address to the Haggis.” 

24 Hours – Burns Fete Looks to the East


Who says there's no free lunch?
Full Story

Haggis, Scotland's national dish, was served yesterday to all
comers at Simon Fraser University's Robbie Burns Day celebration on
Burnaby Mountain.

Scotland's national poet, born Jan. 25, 1759, inspires annual
ceremonies worldwide with pipers, dancers and the traditional Address
to a Haggis ritual. SFU's had a unique made- in-B.C. flavour, thanks to
Todd Wong.

Wong's 10th annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy banquet, celebrating
Burns and the coming Chinese lunar New Year, is Sunday at Chinatown's
Floata restaurant. Yesterday's second annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Highland Games featured human curling and dragon cart races.

“The first solitudes of Vancouver and B.C. were not English
and French, they were Scottish and Chinese,” said Wong, a
fifth-generation Chinese-Canadian and proud kilt-wearer known as
“Toddish McWong” at this time of year.

Robert Burns: “The Vision” Writing Contest

Robert Burns: “The Vision” Writing Contest

Here's something that has come through my poetry/literature network:

“The Vision” Writing Contest for writers and lovers of the works of

Scottish Bard, Robert Burns. The Prize is the James Turnbull Memorial

Award – $500 (Cdn) and possible publication in the Celtic Faerie


Choose your favorite poem/song by Robert Burns, and tell why
you like it, what you believe Robert Burns was trying to convey to his
readers, and any relevant history or documentation of interest.

Entry fee: $10 (Cdn). Word maximum: 2000.
Deadline for entries: May
1, 2007 .''

Entrants are strongly encouraged to contact the contest trustee for full
guidelines at or phone: ( Canada )
204-482-8271; or the
website of the Winnipeg Robert Burns Club:
“Strive in thy humble sphere to shine.”

What could be a better inclusion than a Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner and related events titled: GUNG HAGGIS FAT CHOY ?

  1. A
    dinner of 16 people in a living room 10 years ago, which grew to 570
    people in 2005 with CBC Radio's Shelagh Rogers co-hosting.
  2. A CBC television performance special airing in BC
  3. The SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival spawning Dragon Cart races and Human curling.
  4. Lots
    of media around the world including BBC Radio Scotland, CTV, CBC Radio
    local and satellite, print media in French and Chinese.
  5. And a dragon boat parade entry in Vancouver's St. Patrick's Day Parade


Vancouver Sun: Magic Flute behind the scenes with First Nations emphasis

Vancouver Sun: Magic Flute behind the scenes with First Nations emphasis

Great article today in the Vancouver Sun's West Coast Life section.  They do a sneak preview behind the scenes look at the new Magic Flute production by the Vancouver Opera.  This is remarkable, because the Vancouver Opera really invited First Nations artists and consultants to become collaborators in presenting this unique re-imagining of one of the world's most famous operas.

The opera has always had a strong mythological theme, and is now set in this land of Haida, Salish and 8 other West Coast First Nations peoples.  I saw the 45 minute version that was abridged and adapted for the Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble which travels to BC schools.  It was incredible.  They even played to audiences on First Nations Reserves, to great response.

A nice surprise was to see a picture of Gene Wu, who I last saw in Vancouver Opera's Touring production of Naomi's Road.  There is lots of diversity in the casting as soprano Hwang Sin Nyang takes on the Queen of the Night role.

Two tickets for the Magic Flute (value $200) are up for grabs at the January 28th, Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner as part of our prize raffle.

Media Alert for January 25th: CBC Radio “On The Coast”, Ming Pao and 24 Hours

Media Alert for January 25th: CBC Radio “On The Coast”, Ming Pao and 24 Hours

Happy Robbie Burns Day… 
4pm CBC Radio 690AM interview with Priya Ramu, host of “On The Coast”

Ming Pao will have an interview
with me today by reporter Eric Chan.  I met up with Eric yesterday
at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park in Chinatown.  Eric asked some good
questions about how I felt Chinese and Caucasian relationships were

“Much better than 100 years ago,” I informed him. 
“In 1907, the Anti-Asiatic league rioted in Chinatown smashing windows
and breaking property.  There used to be lots of animosity between
Chinese and Scots, especially after the murder of Janet Smith, a
Scottish nanny, when the Chinese house boy Wong Foon Sing was
wrongfully accused but later aquitted.

“Today, Chinese and Scots have gotten over their differences, getting married and having Scottish-Chinese-Canadian babies.

“Is this kind of gimicky?” Chan challenged me.

I laughed, “Gung Haggis Fat Choy is not gimicky.  It is naturally
occuring, and I am finding it all over the place.  Silk Road Music
creates world fusion music… not gimicky.  Orchid Ensemble works
with Flamenco Mozaico… very incredible!  A book launch for “All
Mixed Up” literary creations by writers who are sometimes half-Asian,
and half-Celtic.  This is occuring naturally.  Vancouver is
Canada's leading city for inter-racial marriages.”

Today, January 25th is Robbie Burns Day.

going to be another busy day.  The SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Festival begins at 10:30am with Human Curling, 11:30 with Dragon Cart
Racing, 12:30 Opening Ceremonies, 1:15 Haggis Eating, 1:30 More Dragon
Cart racing and awards at 2:30pm.

Somewhere between calling play
by play for the Dragon Cart races and emceeing for the Official
ceremonies, I will be interviewed by Bob Mackin of 24 Hours, and film a
pod cast interview with “Guts McTavish” the Scottish puppet with big white eyebrows.

At 4:00pm, I will be down at the CBC Radio studios for a live radio interview with “On The Coast” host Priya Ramu
who will be co-hosting Gung Haggis Fat Choy on January 28th with
me.  A special kilt was made for Priya, and we will check out this
“kilt fitting.”  Margaret Gallagher will also appear on the
show.  She is a special literary performer for GHFC, as she will
be reading a poem she wrote for the chap book “All Mixed Up” – literary
contributions by Hapa (Half-Asian) writers,

Then for 6pm… I
will be attending the Burns Supper for the Burns Club of Vancouver, at
the Terminal City Club.  I am to give the “Address to a Haggis.”

Media Alert: for Gung Haggis Fat Choy – interviews with Todd Wong on Global TV, The Source and CBC Radio-Canada

Media Alert: for Gung Haggis Fat Choy
– interviews with Todd Wong on Global TV, The Source and CBC Radio-Canada

Wednesday morning I did an interview with “The Link” a CBC Radio-Canada satellite program.  It is aimed at international audience and new immigrant audience.  This show will be broadcast on Robbie Burns Day, January 25th, and they will include our Gung HAGGIS RAP Choy – Robbie Burns Address to a Haggis set to rap music

Today, I spotted the tv interview with Erin Cebula for Global TV's Global Village.  Earlier this week, I heard from friends that they had seen it.  Great spot!  Erin edited in some still pictures of our Gung Haggis Fat Choy performers such as Qiu Xi He of Silk Road Music, and Joe McDonald, bagpiper, cutting up the haggis.  They even showed a picture of me with then mayor, Larry Campbell, both wearing kilts and clashing chinese jackets.  There was also a sequence with Fiona Tinwei Lam reading her poetry, at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy World Poetry Night on January 15th, Monday, at the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch.

And I picked up a copy of  The Source/ La Source, a bilingual newspaper, with an interview and picture of me. 


When people ask Todd Wong if he has Scottish heritage he answers coyly that “all Canadians
have Scottish heritage…. as they do Chinese heritage.” He has been helping Vancouverites
find theirs for ten years with his Gung Haggis Fat Choy combination Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New Year celebration.
It is a banquet with multiple
courses of fusion cuisine – such as haggis spring rolls – accompanied by entertainment
and music to brighten the spirits at this dark time of the year.

Today I was interviewed by Ming Pao chinese language newspaper

Wow…. spreading the word and philosophy of Robbie Burns… in English, in French and Chinese!

Sandhill Wines becomes the “official wine sponsor” of Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Sandhill Wines becomes the “official wine sponsor” of Gung Haggis Fat Choy

The multiple award winning Sandhill Wines
was the first BC wine to win a gold medal at the Chardonnay du Monde in
France (1999) and a silver medal in 2002.  “There were only 2
golds given to Canadian Chard for the first time that year,” says
Sandhills creator and winemaker
Howard Soon, “and only 14 Gold out of a total of about 800 wines entered around the world”.

Howard Soon, is the first Chinese-Canadian winemaker
and while admitting he is a humble man,  he is also very
creative.  He is also the first winemaker to invite an opera
singer (Heather Pawsey) to
perform beside giant 100,000 gallon wine tanks. How fitting that
Sandhill be the first wine sponsor for Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish
McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

Wines is pleased to be a sponsor for our event, and appreciated that we
are promoting BC's Scottish and Chinese heritage.  There will be a
display banner of Sandhill wines, and there will be a bottle each of
red and white wine on each Premium table.  There will also be
wines included in our evening's raffle prize draw, which will also
include a grand prize of tickets to the Vancouver Opera's Magic Flute
production featuring First Nations heritage and culture.

year we decided to select BC wines to pair with the haggis and Chinese
banquet at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.  One reason is that we
were disappointed in the wine selection at the restaurant. 
Chinese restaurants generally do not serve a lot of wines with dinner,
nor do they stock good selections of wine. The second reason is that
this was a great way to continue the Gung Haggis spirit by not only
recognizing BC history, arts, culture and food, but to also extend it
to wine!  I was delighted that we could find quality wine with
Sandhill at a reasonable price, and recognize the achievements of
fellow Chinese-Canadian Howard Soon.  The third reason… my
girlfriend and I like nice BC wines.

For the 2005 Gung Haggis
Fat Choy dinner, we chose wines from Sandhill, Arrow Leaf and Red
Rooster wineries and put a bottle of red and a bottle of white on each
of the premium priced tables.  It was still the tail end of the
Year of the Rooster for last year's Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, so we
thought it was a nice touch to recognize the Chinese New Year zodiac

actually met Howard at the inaugural Okanagan Summer Wine Festival held
outside Vernon BC, at Silver Star Mountain Resort in August 2003. 
It was a small wine festival outdoor in the Silver Star Village. We had
a nice chat, and I shared with him that I had been working with explorAsian Festival and I thought he should be listed in the Asian North America Timeline Project.

1) Kathryn Cernauskas, Heather Pawsey, Karen
Shumka and Master Winemaker Howard Soon. 2) peformance in the wine
cellar next to barrels of wine. 3) performance next to the 100,000
gallon wine tanks.

Here is an article about opera singer Heather Pawsey singing in a wine vat, at the invitation by Howard Soon:
Vancouver Courier – “Tasting Notes”

Here are some articles about Howard Soon and Sandhill Wines:

Gismondi On Wine

Soon believes that the 2003 vintage of that wine, which sells for
$12.99, is a better wine. That victory in competition was not a one-off
event. …

Calgary Herald: Not Soon forgotten Howard
Soon dreams of a winery that will house his wines, some of the most …
who work with Soon on a daily basis to grow the perfect grapes for his

Howard Soon Interview by John Schreiner
An interview with Sandhill Master Winemaker, Howard Soon: ''When a guy buys a bottle of wine, it is an expression of a place.

Glasgow's “Back of the Moon” plays at St. James Hall on Robbie Burns Night

Glasgow's “Back of the Moon” plays at St. James Hall on Robbie Burns Night

Here's an event from the Rogue Folk Club, if you aren't attending a Burns supper on January 25th


Thursday, January 25th 8pm
Back of the Moon
St James Hall (3214 West 10th Ave)
Tickets: $23 ($20 members)
Glasgow’s Back of the Moon heats up the St James Hall on Robbie Burns Night!

Back Of The Moon

“Leading the next generation of great Scottish Trad Bands.” – Director of
Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival.

a name like Back Of The Moon you could be forgiven for thinking this is
a Pink Floyd tribute act, but in truth it’s one of the hottest
music groups in Scotland. Together for six years now,
these four young musicians are widely engaged in sessions, gigs and
studio work, have recorded three albums of their own (their latest
release is called Luminosity), and pursue a full touring schedule. All
of this involvement has been great for honing the skills and enriching
their feel for the music, and they have grown to become one of the
sharpest and most powerful trad bands around.

Young Scottish
Musician of the Year in 2001, Gillian Frame is an excellent fiddler,
and sings in both Gaelic and English. Findlay Napier is a strong
and guitarist, and Findlay’s brother Hamish also sings, and provides
piano and flute. Along with those three founding members is more recent
addition Ali Hutton, the group’s new player on border pipes, whistle,
and bodhrán. The word on Ali H is that’s he’s one hot piper.

repertoire is extensive, full of traditional songs and tunes from
Scotland and Ireland. As well they feature newer compositions, like
Archie Kenneth’s reel Back of the Moon (hmm…there must be a story
there), and great pieces they have written themselves, adding to their
own tradition’s vast collection of stirring music.

Between the
CD’S and the many concerts they have caught the imagination and the
hearts of their audiences, and the notice of music critics too. Reading
various reviews the superlatives are liberally applied to this quartet,
variously recognized for “the locked-on cohesion of the ensemble.”

Gung HAGGIS RAP Choy – Robbie Burns Address to a Haggis set to rap music

– Robbie Burns Address to a Haggis set to rap music

To my dear Scottish

literary friends…

musical friends…

intercultural friends…

Here is something to welcome Robbie Burns Day Eve.

My new musical gift to the world for Robbie Burns Day:

You guy are in INSANE!!  :-)
That's hilarious - I love it!!!!
- Heather Pawsey, opera soprano


(see MP3 attachment below)

performed by
Toddish McWong & Joseph McDonald w/Brave Waves
produced by Trevor Chan  – The No Luck Club Mix

Todd Wong aka “Toddish McWongis a 5th generation Chinese-Canadian who has been holding “Gung Haggis Fat Choy:
Robbie Burns Chinese New Year dinners for 10 years.  He is also a writer
and poet, and plays a mean but joyous accordion.

Joseph McDonald
is a multi-generational Scottish-Canadian
bagpiper/singer/songwriter and has performed at every Gung Haggis Fat Choy
dinner since 2001.  He is leader of the band Brave Waves .”

features new world music fusion with bagpipes, South Asian tabla drums,
chinese flute, sitar + other
world instruments.  The bagpipe instrumental track titled
Haggis Fat Choy” and is available on the Brave Waves album
Havens of Light

Trevor Chan
is Canadian born mastermind behind “No Luck Club“,
Chinese-Canadian instrumental hip hop band.  No Luck Club is
recently returned from a cross-Canada tour, and released their album
“Prosperity.” In 2005, No Luck Club released a mash-up titled Our
Story, that included historical quotes about the Chinese head tax.
Listen to it on
No Luck Club on or Dogma Radio



SEE the Live performance of Gung HAGGIS RAP Choy, at the 10th Annual Gung
Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

January 28th, Sunday 5:30pm
Floata Restaurant
#400 – 180 Keefer St .
Vancouver Chinatown

Tickets available from Firehall Arts Centre 604-689-0926

Fundraiser for Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop / Ricepaper Magazine, Joy
Kogawa House, and Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team

And now the guidelines…

This music file is intended for personal use only…

Please do not post in public or play in public or for profit, without

For written permission contact:

Todd Wong  

phone:  778-846-7090
e-mail:  gunghaggis @ yahoo .ca

Joseph McDonald


Copyright 2007, SOCAN