Monthly Archives: June 2007

Roy Mah's address for the 2002 ACWW Community Buiilder's Award

Roy Mah's address for the 2002 ACWW Community Buiilder's Award

from Sid Tan.  Sid was on the ACWW organizing committee with me,
when we helped to create the inaugural ACWW Community Builder's Dinner
in September 2002.  Sid filmed the event for his community
television program “Saltwater City.”

I considered Roy a friend and
community leader, often wondering how redress would be if we could have worked
together. He was a kind, courteous and gentle man.

He once jokingly introduced me as
“the notorious Sid Tan” to a friend. I joked back, “Not as
notorious as you Roy, especially around all those Miss Chinatowns.” He
smiled and retorted without hesitation, “Occupational hazard. Comes with
the job.”

Here's hoping you feel the following
speech by Roy Mah is worth printing. Roy Mah delivered this speech on September
29, 2002 upon receiving the inaugural Community Builder Award from the Asian
Canadian Writers' Workshop.

Yours sincerely,

Sid Chow Tan

Roy Quock Quon Mah, OBC, was born in
Edmonton , schooled
in Victoria and died June 22, 2007 in his 89th year. A WWII veteran, he was
among the first Chinese Canadian full-time labour organisers and publisher of
the Chinatown News (1953-1995), an influential English language magazine based
in Vancouver .
Following is his acceptance speech upon receiving the inaugural Community
Builder Award from the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop on September 29, 2002.


Thank you for presenting me with
this unique award. I feel greatly humbled and honoured in accepting it. To me,
the significance of this award is that it is being presented by the Asian
Canadian Writers' Workshop.

When the Chinatown News was founded
a little more than four decades ago, there was no such fraternity as the Asian
Canadian Writers'

Workshop around. Our community then
could best be described as a cultural desert. Yet less than a half century
later, that desert has been transformed into a blossoming colourful literary
garden with authours, novelists and poets popping up everywhere.

Even more gratifying, these writers
have been producing fantastic works in tribute to their skills and
storytelling. Many of their creative masterpieces have been receiving attention
and winning book prizes. This is terrific. At this rate of proliferation of
literati in our community, I predict before long, you will see the emergence of
many literary stars whose writings will qualify for book of the month club and
receiving prestigious awards. And why not?

Free from the racist barriers
imposed on earlier generations, today's Asian Canadian writers can compete with
anyone on a level playing field. In fact, this is already happening. In today's
pluralistic society, the sky's the limit in all areas of national life,
including the cultural realm for gifted individuals.

What a change from the time
Chinatown News had to implore the corporate world and crown corporations to
remove the glass ceiling from job opportunities for ethnic minorities. One of
our pet editorial themes in those days was to needle the mainstream media to
hire more Chinese Canadian journalists for their staff. Now the profusion of
Asian Canadian anchorpersons and reporters in both electronic media and print
is a certainly a source of pride and satisfaction to all of us.

Could it be in the not too distant
future, the Asian Canadian writer's brigade will decide to drop the designation
and just look upon themselves as professional writers like those now working in
the mainstream media?

Second Annual Chinatown Redress Rally on Canada Day:Head Tax Families to Gather at Chinatown Memorial

This media advisory is sent to me from Sid Tan and the Head Tax
Families Society of Canada.  Last year I took pictures of both the
rally and the Canada Day celebrations at Chinese Cultural Centre:

Canada Day in Chinatown: ceremonies + head tax redress march

Advisory – June 28, 2007

Annual Chinatown Redress Rally on
Canada Day:

Head Tax
Families to Gather at Chinatown Memorial 

Vancouver, BC  Head Tax Families Society of
will mark this Canada Day with the Second Annual Chinatown Redress Rally. They
will call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper for an inclusive just and honourable
redress to start with good-faith negotiations with representatives of head tax

Time:  10:30am
call time – program to begin shortly after

Sunday July 1, 2007

Place: Memorial to Railway Workers and War Veterans

Keefer and Columbia (NE corner),

The Head Tax Families Society of Canada is today's Canadians on a
twenty-three year struggle for an inclusive redress with justice and honour for
affected head tax families. Go to
for more information.

– 30 –


Sid Tan – 604-783-1853

Jim Chu is the new police chief in Vancouver!

Jim Chu is the new police chief in Vancouver!

has a brand new police chief.  Born in Shanghai, he is locally
raised, growing up and playing band and rugby at Charles Tupper High
School in Vancouver, graduating in 1978.  Gee…. I played band
and rugby in my grade 12 year at Carson Graham in North Vancouver in

There used to be a time in Vancouver when the police seemed to be all
British descendants with lots of Scots, and they looked at the Chinese
with suspicion.  In 1924, A Scottish nanny named Janet Smith was
killed, a Chinese houseboy was accused, and the Scotland Yard was
called in.

In the mid 1980's the Vancouver Police department addressed trying to
recruit visible minorities, and how to deal with the multiculturalism
in their own department.  My cousin Hayne Wai, worked on
multicultural issues, and created a slide show called “Stakeout in
Anglotown.”  It took a lot of the stereotypes about Chinese and
Asians and flipped them onto the dominant white Canadian mainstream

For instance, the Police and Fire Departments used to have height
restrictions for recruitment.  If you were too short, you couldn't
get hired, and of course, Asians and women were significantly shorter
than White Males.  The slideshow grew into a video, and was always
a hit at conferences.  Hayne was the Chinese-Canadian cop, and his
friend Dave Sangha was the Indo-Canadian cop, and they patrolled the
tough part of the city that kept its secrets to itself –
Anglo-town.  They recieved an APB for a white male caucasian, and
go on the search for him checking out local “Anglo” establishments
(Government Liquor Store) and religious centres (St. Andrews-Wesley
Church) where “their people talk to ghosts and spirits.”

It was very tongue-in-cheek, and it was one of my inspirations in
learning how to flip cultural stereotypes as I have developed “Gung
Haggis Fat Choy.”

Times have really changed in Vancouver now.  The Vancouver Sun has
recently written a series of articles about him, and I think that Jim
Chu has been a real leader on the Police Force.  Chu has helped to
pave a high tech roadway for the Police Department and has been
successful on his own merits.  There seems to be a lot of support
for him.

We wish him luck and success as Vancouver becomes a truly multicultural 21st Century City.

See news stories and more on

Vancouver Sun story on Roy Mah: 'Gentle' man touched so many people's lives

This the story the Vancouver Sun published about Roy Mah on Monday, June 25th. Roy's niece Ramona Mar is interviewed.  I have been friends with Ramona since 1986, when we worked together on the Saltwater City exhibit held in the David Lam Multipurpose Hall at the Chinese Cultural Centre.

'Gentle' man touched so many people's lives


Chantal Eustace

Vancouver Sun

Monday, June 25, 2007


Community leader Roy Mah died Friday at the age of 89.

Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

leader Roy Mah died Friday at the age of 89.

Chinatown 's soft-spoken revolutionary, Roy Mah, may be
gone, but the freedom fighter's legacy will live on, say his friends and

— publisher, human rights activist and soldier — was above all a champion of
Canadian multiculturalism, said his niece, Ramona Mar.

was a passionate, humble man with a strong passion for human rights,
particularly vis-a-vis Chinese-Canadians because he
grew up in such racist times,” said Mar in an interview with The Vancouver
Sun on Sunday.

who suffered from kidney disease, passed away peacefully in a
Vancouver hospital Friday at the age of 89.

said he will be dearly missed.

was just there for everyone,” said Mar, 50, a former CBC journalist.
“I'm going to remember him as a role model in the Chinese community.”

said that more than 720 people showed up to celebrate her uncle's last birthday
at Chinatown 's Floata
Seafood Restaurant, a testiment to
many people he touched in the community.

that he was showy or loud.

would never think that that guy was responsible for bringing multiculturalism
and the vote to Chinese-Canadians. I have trouble being able to believe he was
able to rally people around issues — but he did,” said
Mar. “Quietly.”

preferred to do things in a behind-the-scenes manner with a quiet
determination, said his long-time pal, Fred Mah, 72, a retired scientist with
Environment Canada. (He is no relation to Roy .)

said his friend was a good communicator. Together, they helped to form the
city's Chinese Cultural Association back in 1973.

quite gentle — not like me,” he said. “He's very good with

said he is a better person because of their friendship.

me, anyway, he expanded my outlook on life — especially on multiculturalism on
that sort of thing. He was a champion for multiculturalism,” said Fred
Mah. “I think that throughout his life, equality has been an important
thing for him.”

Mah was born in Edmonton in 1918 and moved to
Victoria when he was six
years old. Back then, schools were segregated. He wasn't allowed to swim in the
public pool.

wasn't an easy time to be a Chinese-Canadian.

he developed this incredible passion for fighting for the underdog,” Mar
said. “I never knew him to complain. Not a once.”

of griping, Mah turned to action.

joined the army and became one of the first Chinese-Canadians to fight in the
Second World War, encouraging others to join him.

really went to fight in two wars, one for the allies and one for
Chinese-Canadians,” Mar said.

he returned, Mah lobbied the government for the right to vote, something that
was granted to Chinese-Canadians in 1947.

fight didn't stop there.

became a union organizer when he took a job with the International Woodworkers
of America where he worked fighting for Chinese-Canadians' rights.

1953, he started the country's first Chinese-Canadian English-language news
magazine, The Chinatown News. During the 40 years he operated the News, he also
founded the B.C. Ethnic Press Association.

said the publication even caught the eye of then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau,
who invited Mah to accompany him on a trip to
China .

wanted to build strength and have people be proud of
their lives here,” said Mar.

an interview with The Vancouver Sun in May, Mah said that throughout his life,
he wanted to help transform Canada
into a multilingual and multicultural society. Looking back on it all, he said:
“Now we're equal.”

© The
Vancouver Sun 2007

Roy Mah, founder of Chinatown News dies. Saltwater City laments the passing of a true local Chinatown hero.

Roy Mah, founder of Chinatown News dies.  Saltwater City laments the passing of a true local Chinatown hero.

Chinese Canadian veterans: John Ko Bong, Roy Mah, Ed Lee – photo Todd Wong

It's a sad day in Vancouver Chinatown today.  Roy Mah died on
Friday. He was the WW2 veteran who joined a “suicide squad” to fight
for a country called Canada – that wouldn't even let him vote in the
land he was born in.  The Edmonton AB born son of a head tax payer
was founder and long time editor of Chinatown News, founder of the BC
Ethnic Press, 1st Chinese-Canadian admitted to the Canadian Club
Vancouver, and recipient of the Order of BC.

Just after noon I was contacted by a Georgia Straight reporter asking
about my thoughts and relationship with Roy Mah.  I told him that
Roy was one of my iconic role models.  I used to read Chinatown
News at my Great-Grandmother's house when I was a child.  I used
to see Roy in Chinatown during the 1970's and knew where his office
was.  During the 1980's I approached Roy, and submitted some arts
reviews for Rosie's Cafe, and Cats – including my developing social
commentary about Asian Canadian arts and history and racism.  Roy
even gave me a letter when I travelled to New York City, to request a
review pass for M. Butterfly on Broadway.

In 2002, with my involvement with Asian Canadian Writer's Workshop, we
honoured Roy with the inaugural Community Builder's
Award. Roy also enjoyed attending the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.  He last
attended in 2005, and when I acknowledged him to the 570 strong
audience, he was given a spontaneous standing ovation.

In recent years, he would always wave hello to me when he
walked past me working at the Vancouver Public Library information
desk.  Roy always liked to come into the library to read the
newspapers.  It was harder for him because he was on kidney
dialysis.  But we usually managed to have some nice chats, and
occasionally some coffee together.

I last saw Roy on May 12th at the 60th Anniversary dinner for Canadian Citizenship, sponsored by Pacific Unit 280.  I was sorry I had to miss his “90th Birthday party” on Easter Weekend. This was the first time I had seen Roy in a wheelchair.  His health had taken a downturn a couple of years ago, and I had missed him hobbling into the library with a big smile on his face whenever he saw me.  At the dinner, the Chinese Canadian Military Museum gave out dvd's containing interviews with many of the veterans.  Claudia Ferris was the documentary producer.  Roy's niece Ramona Mar was one of the interviewers.  Gloria Leung is Claudia's sister-in-law, and also heloed out on the project.  And we all adore Roy Mah!

There will be a public Celebration of Life for Roy Mah on Thursday, July 12 at 2:00 pm
at the Chinese Cultural Centre in the David Lam Hall. 

Vancouver Sun published a story Monday on Roy with interviews with his nice Ramona Mar.
CBC Radio interviewed Ramona and Wesley Lowe on Monday, and Larry Wong was interviewed for Channel M.

Here are some links about Roy Mah:

O.B.C. Biography – Name

Roy Quock Quon MahVancouver. Click on image for full-size version Roy Mah was He sat on the board of the Vancouver Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society when it

GungHaggisFatChoy :: Vancouver Sun: Chinatown's 'quiet

It is always great to see a story about Roy Mah in the media. Roy Mah has left his imprint on almost every major event in Vancouver 's Chinese community

Chinatown Monument

When Chinese veterans like Roy Mah & Daniel Lee

Roy Mah's ACCW award dinner 29 Sep 02: Roy Mah receives his Community Builder Award from Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop President  Jim Wong-Chu on September 29, 2002
Roy Mah and Jim Wong-Chu at the 2002 ACWW dinner where we honoured Roy with the inaugural ACWW Community Builder's Award.

50 Years of Chinatown Stories Dinner Sept. 2002

Tonight's dinner honoured Roy Mah by presenting him with the first ever Asian Here's a picture of Roy Mah (on the left) receiving his award from ACWW

Welcome to the Vancouver Courier – On Line – News

Their faces, lit by the afternoon sun, bear the lines of years of hardship and sorrow. …. Roy

Roy Mah – Veterans Affairs Canada

Did you know that Roy Mah led an emotional debate arguing that Chinese-Canadians should go to war before they received the right to vote?

Adventures in Vancouver's SoMa / Riley Park neighborhood – June 23

Adventures in Vancouver's SoMa / Riley Park neighborhood – June 23

The SoMa (South Main) or Riley Park area at Main St. and King Edward / 25th Avenue, is definitely one of my many Vancouver neighborhood hang-outs.  Sometimes I can be found working at the Riley Park Branch library.  I have attended and hosted writing events at The Grind coffee shop for Asian Canadian Writer's Workshop.  This is a great coffee shop for studying in, hanging out, or using for meetings.  I have also attended  performances by friends at the Montmarte Restaurant or the Legion. It's an incredible two block strip that I particularly like from 24th  to 26th Avenue along Main St, and includes one of Vancouver's best Chinese restaurants, Sun Sui Wah.

Today we had brunch at The Crave restaurant at 3941 Main St. to celebrate my girlfriend's birthday.  The floorspace is intimately small, and as we waited at the entrance for our table – I found myself beside “the bar” so I ordered the “smoothie of the day”, a delicious blend of raspberries.  Since my girlfriend's favorite drink is a gin and tonic, I asked them to substitute gin instead of the vodka for the “adult smoothie.”  11am, and we are on our way to a great brunch.

We squeezed 5 adults and a 7-month baby into our booth.  The items are quite reasonably priced.  All the bennys and “Eggs Your Way” ($7) came with buttery potatoes, so savoury I didn't even use ketchup or HP sauce.  My girlfriend ordered the California Benny ($8 1/4) and also really likes french toast ($7) so that's what I had.  It was a deliciously rich challah french toast with raisins inside, served with maple syrup.

After brunch I dropped into the “House of the Spirit Bear Gallery” at 3957 Main St.  I had noticed when the gallery had opened about a year ago, but had never been inside.  Upon entering I quickly saw a wonderful display about Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.  Yahgulanaas is also known as “Haida Manga Guy.”  I first met him when I was asked to introduce him at Word on the Street festival a few years ago.  As he read from his book, I held the book up for the audience to see, and turned the pages.  He really appreciated it. 

Anyways, gallery owner Darrell Gilmore told me that Michael is having a opening at the Museum of Anthropology on Tuesday, July 10th, 2007 at 7pm.  Darrell tells me that Michael has collected argillite dust from all his fellow carvers and used it to create an “argillite paint” which was used to cover a Pontiac Firefly car, upon which more uniquely Yahgulanaas artwork was painted.  It sounds inspirationally crazy – just like Michael.  Darrell gives me one of the post cards, and right away I zoom in on the words “Live music and refreshments to follow, “tailgate style,” on the grounds of the Museum.  Definitely going to have to check out this party…  That guy Darrell… nice guy.

Next I walk into the Riley Park Branch library.  I talk to my co-workers there and book some more hours.  We chat briefly about library stuff, including worksites, supervisors, co-workers, library culture, library videos on

Windsor Quality Meats at 4110 Main St. is a great butcher store.  Staff are really friendly, and I like to pick up the specials.  My tongue still remembers the incredible rib-eye steaks that I picked up last year.  Today I picked up Maui Ribs, and salmon fillet steaks marinated in orange and spices.  Yum Yum – I think my girlfriend will enjoy an  extra-special home-cooked birthday dinner tonight.

Today, June 22 is is the one year anniversary of the Chinese Head Tax Parliamentary Apology

Today, June 22 is is the one year anniversary of the Chinese Head Tax Parliamentary Apology

It's been 60 long years since Canadians born of Chinese ancestry were given full franchise voting privileges in the country they were born in. Prior to that they were called “resident aliens.”  It took their willingness to fight for their country during WW2 and to continue campaigning to recall the “Chinese Exclusion Act” which had followed the Chinese Head Tax.  And still they campaigned for an apology.

My grand-Uncle Daniel Lee would send a letter to Ottawa each year asking Parliament for a simple no-cost apology.  Finally, the veterans who saw their numbers dwindling each year settled for “an acknowledgement” and no financial settlement.  This was met by a rising grass roots opposition led partially by the Chinese Canadian National Council, who maintained their call for equal and fair redress, similar to the settlement that New Zealand had made.  The United Nations even said that Canada should make fair and equal settlement.  The Canadian courts said it was a political matter and should be dealt with in Parliament, not forced by the courts.  And still the Government would not apologize. Until last year.

While many Canadians, and Chinese-Canadians continue to remain on opposite sides of the continued redress issue, I think that many people agree that the apology and ex-gratia payments has helped Canada move forward in its development as a fair and inclusive country.  Over 220 head tax payers and souses have recieved ex-gratia payments of $20,000.  The price of $500 head tax from to 1903 to 1923, after initially starting at $50 in 1895, could buy one or two small houses back then, and families spent years paying off their debts.  No other ethnic group was charged an immigration head tax, then completely banned from coming to Canada.  The exclusion from 1923 to 1947 caused separation to families, which also did not happen in any other immigrating ethnic group.

But 220 payments represent less than 0.05% of the total 3000 head tax certificates paid for.  While some spouses such as Mrs. Der died waiting for her payment after being promised personally by Prime Minister Harper and Secretary of State for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney, there were thousands of head tax payers and spouses who had already died, leaving their sons and daughters to carry on the fight for the redress of a racist and unjust tax.

The government says they will not issue a cheque to any family, where the head tax payer or spouse died before February 2006, when the Conservatives came to power.  This is wrong.  Each head tax certificate should be treated equally and fairly.  One certificate – one payment.

The following press release is from the Chinese Canadian National Council's national office in Toronto.
As far as I know, Vancouver redress campaigners have not organized any activities to mark the one-year head tax apology, except for a March on July 1st, because the BC Coalition of Head Tax Families does not believe the redress process is finished… yet.


June 22, 2007

Chinese Canadians Mark One-Year Anniversary of Chinese Head Tax Parliamentary Apology

220 Redress Payments Issued In One Year
TORONTO – The Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) and the Ontario Coalition of Chinese Head Tax Families (Ontario Coalition) today mark the one-year anniversary of the Chinese Head Tax Parliamentary Apology. On June 22, 2006, more than 200 Chinese Canadian seniors and their families were present to witness Prime Minister Stephen Harper deliver the Parliamentary Apology in the House of Commons. The other three Party leaders: Hon. Bill Graham, Mr. Gilles Duceppe and Hon. Jack Layton also made statements. The federal Government also announced direct redress of $20,000 to living head tax payers or surviving spouses one year ago today. “We want to recognize the achievements over the past year: already 42 head tax payers and 178 spouses have received their redress payments (see report below),” Colleen Hua, CCNC National President said today. “But, at the same time, we continue to seek a just and honourable resolution that includes the 3000 head tax families where both the head tax payer and spouse have passed away – they were excluded in last year’s announcement.”

“These families were also directly affected by the Chinese Head Tax, Newfoundland Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act.”

Today, Chinese Canadian seniors and their families gather to mark the one-year anniversary of the Parliamentary Apology. There is a reception at Queen’s Park hosted by Hon. Mike Colle, Ontario Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, and then a community forum at 5:00pm and dinner at 7:00pm at the Bright Pearl Restaurant.

June 22 event #1: Ontario Legislature Reception at Queen’s Park, Room 247 at 1:30 pm (Today)

June 22 event #2: CCNC/Ontario Coalition Head Tax Redress Day Events at the Bright Pearl Restaurant in Toronto, 5pm Forum, 7pm Dinner (Today)

Other community events include the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Monument of the Chinese Railroad Workers in Canada, West of Roger’s Centre (Skydome) on July 1st at 10:30am organized by the

Foundation to Commemorate the Chinese Railway Workers in Canada .

The Chinese Exclusion Act (1923 – 1947) replaced the Chinese Head Tax (1885 – 1923) and prohibited Chinese immigration for more than a generation, separating families and stunting the development of the community. Only a handful of Chinese were allowed to enter Canada during this period which included the Great Depression and Second World War. The sons and daughters of the head tax payers were also directly affected by this legislation and experienced poverty, racism, family separation and lost educational opportunity first hand. Their families also paid the head tax and the Canadian Government should offer a meaningful apology in the form of direct redress to all head tax families.

CCNC continues to work with other redress groups including the Ontario Coalition of Chinese Head Tax Families, Head Tax Families Society of Canada (formerly the B.C. Coalition of Head Tax Payers, Spouses and Descendants), Newfoundland and Labrador Head Tax Redress Committee, and Montreal Head Tax Redress Committee in the campaign to fully redress the Chinese Head Tax, Newfoundland Head Tax and Chinese Exclusion Act.


For media interviews, please contact:

Victor Wong (CCNC) at (416) 977-9871 or (647) 285-2262


CBC Generations documentary series features BC's Rev. Chan family and descendants (including me!)

CBC Generations documentary series features BC's Rev. Chan family and descendants (including me!)

Chan family

Generations is a 6 part series and the lead installment is The Chan Legacy – which is about my great-great-grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan, and our family descendants who are committed to community service – like me!  The episodes of the series are:

The Chan Legacy on CBC Newsworld

July 4, 10 pm ET/PT,
July 8, 10 am ET/PT,
July 29, 7 pm ET

Producer Halya Kuchmij is very proud of her work, and that we are the first in the series.  It must be a very strong, emotional,
educational documentary.  I have been an adviser and witness to many of
the interviews, as well as some of the script.  I have to say it made
me very proud of our family, and the show is very emotionally
touching.  And I haven't even seen it yet!

Many family members were interviewed:

  • Victor Wong, grand-son, WW2 veteran and Victoria resident who visited his grandparents in Nanaimo BC.
  • Helen Lee, grand-daughter, who lived with Rev. & Mrs. Chan Yu Tan in Nanaimo.
  • Gary Lee, great-grandson who tells about some of the challenges overcome by the family.
  • Janice Wong, great-grand-daughter, and award winning author of CHOW: From China to Canada, memories of food and family.
  • Rhonda Larrabee, great-grand-daughter, and chief of the First Nations Qayqayt (New Westminster) Band, featured in the NFB film “Tribe of One.”
  • Todd Wong, great-great-grandson, community and cultural activist,
    creator of Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.
  • Tracey Hinder, 5th generation high school student who was the inaugural Vancouver CanSpell champion and went on to compete in Ottawa and Washington DC.  Tracey is a member of her school's “multicultural club.”

Rev. Chan Yu Tan came to Canada in 1896, following his elder brother Rev. Chan Sing Kai who had earlier arrived in 1888 at the invitation of the Methodist Church of Canada.  These two brothers were later followed by sisters Phoebe in 1899, and Naomi who later moved to Chicago.  Throughout seven generations, the family has spread throughout Canada and the United States.  The Rev. Chan Yu Tan Family was featured in the photographic exhibition Three Early Chinese Canadian Pioneer Families

Read my blog entries about
Rev. Chan Legacy Project which includes stories during the making of the documentary and events for Janice Wong's award-winning book C H O W: From China to Canada memoris of food and family.

Please tell all your friends and relatives about this upcoming documentary, very informative about the history of Chinese-Canadians, and the legacy they have built in Canada.

the following is from the CBC Generations home page:


Generations: The Chan Legacy

documentary begins with Todd Wong playing the accordion, wearing a
kilt. He promotes cultural fusion, and in doing so, he honours the
legacy of his great, great, grandfather The Reverend Chan Yu Tan. The
Chans go back seven generations in Canada and are one of the oldest
families on the West Coast.
Chan family
The Chan family
Reverend Chan left China for Victoria in 1896 at a time when most Chinese immigrants were simple labourers, houseboys and laundrymen who had come to British Columbia
to build the railroad or work in the mines. His wife Mrs. Chan Wong Shee followed him later in 1899.  The Chans were different.
They were educated and Westernized Methodist Church missionaries who
came to convert the Chinese already in Canada,
and teach them English. The Chans were a family with status and they
believed in integration. However even they could not escape the racism
that existed at the time, the notorious head tax and laws that excluded
the Chinese from citizenship.
the documentary, Reverand Chan's granddaughter Helen Lee, grandson
Victor Wong, and great grandson Gary Lee recall being barred from
theaters, bowling alleys and restaurants. The Chinese were not allowed
to become doctors or lawyers, pharmacists or teachers. Still, several
members of the Chan family served in World War II,
because they felt they were Canadian and wanted to contribute. Finally,
in 1947, Chinese born in Canada were granted citizenship and the right
to vote.
Todd Wong
Todd Wong
Today, Todd Wong,
represents a younger generation of successful professionals and entrepreneurs scattered across North America.
He promotes his own brand of cultural integration through an annual
event in Vancouver called Gung Haggis Fat Choy. It's a celebration that
joins Chinese New Year with Robbie Burns Day, and brings together the two cultures that once lived completely separately in the early days of British Columbia.

We also meet a member of the youngest generation, teenager Tracey
Hinder, who also cherishes the legacy of Reverend Chan, but in contrast
to his desire to promote English she is studying mandarin and longs to
visit the birthplace of her ancestors.

Produced by Halya Kuchmij, narrated by Michele Cheung.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team @ Alcan Dragon Boat Festival 2007

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team
@ Alcan Dragon Boat Festival 2007

Paddles go deep on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, steered steadily by Stephen Mirowski with drummer Deb Martin.  front to back along the right side are: Wendy Lee, Sarah Glazzard, Hilary Wong, Marlene Chamberlain, Jim Blatherwick, Joe Easton, Dan Seto, Art Calderwood, Sean John Kingsley, Tzhe Lam. – photo vfk.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team had a full weekend of racing and
cameraderie. We raced in the Novice semis on Saturday with a 2nd place,
then Sunday morning we got bumped out of the Novice Championship with a 6th place finish – but
finished strong in the Novice A consolation round missing 1st place by
about 3/4 second.

On Saturday afternoon, we put together a
composite 50+ team officially called Gung Haggis Fat Choy & Friends
nicknamed “Old Haggis Fat Boy.” It was an incredible race the missed a
bronze medal by less than 3/4 second to Wasbi. Wow!

Gung Haggis
also added to the steering pool, Steven Wong, Stephen Mirowski and
myself to help out Junior teams Killaryney, Strathcona, Lotus Junios
II, plus women's team Hydromaniacs.

Gung Haggis paddler Stuart
Mackinnon's junior team, (which I coached) Killarney Cougar Dragons won
2nd place medal in Junior D. I am proud of them and Gung Haggis and UA
Power Dragons (which I also coached) a brand new team that made it to
the Rec D Championship Finals

check out
Pictures are taken by Christine chin's cousin – Nick Lum – please credit if you post

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Our 1st race on Sunday morning – we needed to finish 1st, 2nd or have one of the fastest 3rd place finishes from the 3 novice heats to make it to the medal round.  We finished 6th.

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Our final race on Sunday – the Novice A consolation race.  We went neck and neck with boat 7 all the way to the finish line.  Our paddles went deep. Our intensity was focussed.

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We raise our paddles in celebration after a hard paddled race.

Big Big thanks to Jim Blatherwick for stepping into the Captain's role
and being responsible for the race roster rotations.  I heard lots of
complements for Jim, for being fair, keeping it fun, making sure we had
perspective and encouraging us to do our best.

Lots of gratitude and thanks to steers Stephen Mirowski and drummer Deb Martin, who kept us focussed and straight on the water.

Great thank
yous to Stephen Wong and Stephen Mirowski for going into the steering
pool along with myself.  Steven W steered 2 races with Killarney as
well as during the practice sessions.  Stephen M steers one race for
Killarney, one for Strathcona + 2 for Hydrosonics a women's team from
Sechelt.  I steered 1 each for Anniemaniacs, Lotus Junior II,

Big big contratulations to Stuart Mackinnon – one
of our Rookie of the Year contenders.  Stuart had the vision to create
a junior team for Killarney High School -the
Cougar Dragons won Silver Medals in Junior D.

Thanks to everybody who attended our
after-party at Doolin's Irish Pub.  Great to
meet new dragon boat friends and celebrate with old dragon boat friends
like Ian Paul of The Pirates..  Joe Easton won the 50/50… 
Dale of
Shibumi (Portland) won the “Up Your Kilt t-shirt).

Saturday at ADBF

Hi everybody…

Very exciting races today for Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team and our affiliates… Killarney Cougar Dragons, and UA Power Dragons.

Early Saturday Morning the Killarney junior team raced their first ADBF race and learned they could keep their timing, reach out and have the endurance to paddle 500m, after only 8 practices ever!

Gung Haggis Fat Choy and UA Power Dragons – both coached by Todd Wong, faced off as the 7th and 8th seeds in their first race of the day.  It was a close race – but UA beat Gung Haggis, sending GHFC into the novice division and UA into the rec division.

Gung Haggis organized a 50+ Race and brought on paddlers from other teams to join with them to create oneness, despite their different styles and identities.  Paddlers from Gung Haggis, GVRD 44 Cheeks, Eye of the Dragon, Lotus Mixed, Pirates, all came together to see what they could do against more experienced teams, such as Wasabi, False Creek, Tacoma DBA, and Momentuum.  As expected False Creek took an early lead.  Tacoma raced with 19 paddlers to follow them.  We went neck and neck from start to finish with Wasabi for a thrilling bronze medal challenge.  Less than one second separated Gung Haggis and Wasabi, as the medal went to Wasabi.  Everybody on the “Old Haggis Fat Boy” team was happy with the experience, and enjoyed the challenge of paddling with new people and making the team jell.

Gung Haggis used this experience for their afternoon race.  We tightened up the pace of our first 6 strokes, and we rocketed to a 2nd place start following the more experienced CC Dragons.  It was strange chatting with the CC Dragons in the marshalling area because I had raced on some competitive teams with them in 2001, on the GM team for Victoria, Kelowna and San Francisco – where we were in Diamond, Platinum and 2nd overall.  And here we were now battling it out in Novice Division.

The currents were challenging, and our boat bounced a bit towards the right…  At one point we got two close to the CC Dragons who were ahead of us to the right, and we were asked to “let it ride” – once clear, the race officials said – you're clear to go.  And we did another start, and still managed to make 3rd place, only one second behind the team that passed us while we were “resting.”  A Great race – and we're ready do do it again for tomorrow.

For Sunday…

Captain Jim asks that we arrive for 8:30am.  We
want to be completely prepared with NO SNAGS or LATECOMERS for our Heat
63/ 9:50 race.  Lets' work on some visualization, then get out on the
water early.  

We will be in lane 3.  This means we are 3rd seed in the race.
1st and 2nd advance directly to Novice A Championship (that should be us)
Fastest two 3rd from heats Novice semi finals advance to Novice A Final

slowest 3rd plus 4th and 5th place goes to Novice Consolation (not us)

All others go to Novice B Championship

Other things going on.

am Heat 55 Hydronautix needs a steersperson – I have asked Stephen
Mirowski to assist this team.  They are in lane 7 of the Competitive
Women's Division.  Chances of winning a medal will be 3/6

8:55 an Heat 58  
Killarney Cougar Dragons – Lane 2
they are seeded 2nd last.
Top 3 go to C Final Championship,
Bottom 3 go to D Final championship
We have asked Steven W, to steer.
Chances of a medal are 3/6

9:50am Heat 63
Gung Haggis Fat Choy – lane 3
chances of winning medal 3/44

Junior Championships for D & C
12:57 or 1:08

Novice A Championship
2:25 Consolation or 2:36 Championship

Hey everybody…. Our last race was GREAT! 
We still finished ahead of the pack – even at 3rd place
We now we could have been 2nd without letting it ride.
We hung in therem stayed competitive – so now we want
to advance to Novice A Championship – with a 1st or 2nd place showing.