Stuart Mackinnon, Gung Haggis dragon boat paddler, off to China to do presentation on Norman Bethune

Stuart Mackinnon, Gung Haggis dragon boat paddler, off to China to do presentation on Norman Bethune

Stuart Mackinnon with musician Michelle Carlisle of the Halifax Wharf Rats, at Kilts Night event – 1st Thursday of each month at Doolin's Irish Pub – photo Todd Wong

Stuart Mackinnon joined the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team and social club in March this year.  He quickly became an enthusiastic convert to dragon boat culture, fitness and camaraderie.  “Mr. Mackinnon,” as he is known to his students at Killarney Secondary School in Vancouver, was so excited about dragon boats and seeing junior teams in the community that he decided to sponsor and manage  brand new dragon boat team for for Killarney students –  the Killarney Cougar Dragons even won 2nd place medals at the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival for the debut entry.
row: Steven Wong (coxswain), Deborah Gee, Irene Peng, Linda Chen,
Michele Shi, Taylor Yee, Sally Chan, Dipa Barua, Eddie Ha, Cherry Chen,
Garry Ly, Wayne Li, and Garvin Pang.

Front row: Mr. Mackinnon (Manager/coach), Chi Hsi, Justin Yee, Christine Chin (den mother), Aleck Pham and Justin Chow.

Stuart has been a great asset to our team.  He embraces both the Chinese and Scottish sides of our personality… and is also fiercely Canadian.  Since joining the team he has bought a kilt, and will be featured in a ZDF television feature on the German public television documentary about multiculturalism in Vancouver featuring the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team. It will air in December 2007 across Europe. Stuart is also now a regular at our kilts night events at Doolin's Irish Pub.

Below is a Vancouver Sun story about Stuart's trip to China.  We are all very proud and supportive of Stuart.

Canadians pay homage to Bethune

Educators, teachers will fly to China today and follow in the footsteps of the revered doctor

Kelly Sinoski,
Vancouver Sun –
Published: Monday, July 16, 2007

than 200 Canadian educators will fly to China today to pay homage to
fellow countryman Dr. Norman Bethune, who is considered a national hero
and martyr.

The 222 educators, teachers and administrators will
follow in the footsteps of Bethune — all the way to his tomb in
Shijiazhuang, where a statue, museum and hospital are dedicated to him.

Canadian-born Bethune, who died from an infection in China in 1939,
aided the Chinese against the Japanese invasion in 1938 and became a

was so revered in China that Chairman Mao Zedong made an essay
documenting the final months of the doctor's life required reading by
the Chinese population.

“I'm getting very excited,” said Stuart
Mackinnon, a teacher at Vancouver's Killarney secondary. “I like the
idea of a Canadian hero away from home; that really tickles me.

“Everyone in China knows Bethune. Even the lowest of the lowest peasants who aren't well educated say, 'Oh Canada — Bethune.'”

visit to the tomb is part of a 19-day trek to China, which starts with
the second annual Sino-Canada International Educational Exchange Forum
in Beijing.

Mackinnon, a speaker at the forum, said honouring
Bethune, a “selfless contributor to society,” fits well with the theme
of this year's forum: what role does civic and social responsibility
play in our education system?

“We're trying to tie in Norman
Bethune and other heroes; people who had a strong conscience and sense
of responsibility,” he said.

“I believe we can strengthen our ties with China by celebrating this historical figure, common to both of our histories.”

forum is aimed at bringing Canadian and Chinese educators together to
discuss issues in public education and sign friendship and exchange
agreements. Mackinnon said the Chinese are interested in modernizing
their education system and want to learn some techniques in place here
to churn out more critical thinkers.

The trip will include stops in Beijing, Shanghai, Xian and Lhasa, Tibet, along with visits to rural villages and schools.

“This is a way of meeting with the people and sharing with them,” Mackinnon said.

The educators are paying their own way, with Mackinnon paying about $5,000 for the trip.

Tianjiao International Education Group, a private Canadian-based
company specializing in travel for education and exchange between China
and Canada, is sponsoring the forum and has negotiated discounts for
hotels and flights.

Company spokesman James Zhan said Tianjiao
has spent about $10,000 on renting the forum space. The Chinese
Education Bureau is also spending $10,000 for the Chinese participants,
he said.

Zhan said Chinese choirs will sing in Beijing and at the
memorial in tribute to Bethune, who is “the great pride of friendship
between the two countries.”

“He is a Canadian who is so much respected in China,” he said. “His spirit is really good.”

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