Monthly Archives: July 2007

CUPE local 391 (City of Vancouver Library Workers) is on strike for the first time in it's union history!

CUPE local 391 (City of Vancouver Library Workers) is on strike for the first time in it's union history!

city management!!!  Why don't they return to the bargaining table?  Why don't they acknowledge union concerns instead of asking for concessions!

This morning, I attended a CUPE 391 study session, with my fellow library workers, and learned why Vancouver City library workers are taking job action.  The meeting was lead by union president Alex Youngberg, whom I have known for many years.  She has always been supportive of my Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner events, and other community efforts.  Today Alex and the bargaining committee explained why they are frustrated that the Library management has not acknowledged union concerns and issues, nor made counter offers.  Instead they try to impose a contract with concessions.  see:

Why has high priced PR firm
from Toronto, Wilcox Group, (the one that handled SARS) been hired to give an “Olympic spin” and deflect
the real issues, such as job equity, job wage disparity, etc. see

Why is Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan (who has been a big supporter of Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner events) continually saying that the issue is about preventing a strike during the Olympics when the unions stateWe have never said, will never say and have no intention of shutting the city down during the Olympics.” 

I thought the strike was for wage equity, fairness and other labour issues.  Who cares about the Olympics?  It will last for 2 weeks.  Vancouver civic workers will continue to be here long after.  But in the meantime, can we have a fair wage please?  Gee… BC finance minister Carole Taylor gave unions financial bonuses if they signed prior to a certain date, and to keep contract disputes from disrupting the Olympics.

I have been a CUPE 391 member since 1975, and received my 30 year pin
last year.  I have loved working at the library, and enjoy giving
library patrons the best possible service, as do my co-workers. 

Here's an article about Pay Equity:
[PDF] Overdue: Pay Equity for Library Workers

The following press release is from the CUPE website:
Library workers seek positive resolution to avert full strike
[July 25, 2007 05:44 PM]
City encouraged to return to table immediately

VANCOUVER – In a final effort to avoid a full blown strike at Vancouver’s libraries, CUPE 391 public library workers are encouraging their employer, the City of Vancouver, to return to the bargaining table to negotiate.

Public library workers are cautiously encouraged by Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan’s move away from his ongoing demand for a 39-month contract earlier today, admitting the first step is returning to the bargaining table and seeing their local issues addressed, like pay equity, improvements for part-time and auxiliary workers, benefit improvements, and job security.

Tonight (Wednesday) at 5:30 p.m. CUPE 391 will be making a presentation on pay equity, the library workers’ primary bargaining issue, to the Vancouver Public Library Board at the Central Library (350 West Georgia Street).

“Finding a way to start addressing pay equity in Vancouver libraries is a high priority for our members in this round of bargaining,” said CUPE 391 president Alex Youngberg. “We need to make sure that the Library Board understands why pay equity is such a significant issue for us.”

A recent pay equity report released in July 2007 by CUPE researchers affirmed that regardless of the equally valuable work that library workers contribute to society, traditionally female jobs in the library sector are typically lower paying than traditionally male jobs in the municipal sector.

Vancouver Public Library workers are paid $7 an hour less than library workers in Toronto.

Despite the City’s persistent refusal to return to the bargaining table, CUPE 391 remains open to meet and prepared to bargain. However it is anticipated that job action will escalate to a full strike by the end of the week if a fair agreement is not forthcoming.

CUPE 391 represents the 790 employees of the Vancouver Public Library.

Alex Youngberg, CUPE 391 President (Vancouver Public Library workers), 604-322-4879 cell: 604-908-6095.

Diane Kalen, CUPE Communications, 778-229-0258

Toddish McWong learns Irish Step Dancing on Granville Island

Toddish McWong learns Irish Step Dancing on Granville Island

I went paddling in a marathon canoe with Gung Haggis paddler Art
Calderwood. We heard celtic fiddle music as we paddled into Alder Bay
behind Granville Island. And of course I had to check it out.

Imagine our surprise to discover the Violet Moore Irish Dancers on stage with Delhi 2 Dublin – with Kytami fiddling away!  

had attended the first Delhi 2 Dublin event at the 2006 Celtic
Festival, and loved the energy that Kytami brought to the stage. Delhi
2 Dublin blends celtic fiddle tunes with bhangra beats, and they performed at the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival in 2006.  Here's my story about my first Kytami/Delhi 2 Dublin experience:
my first Kytami/Delhi 2 Dublin experience on St. Paddy's Eve.

they asked for audience volunteers to learn ceil dancing for Bridge of Athlone…. I was there! So was Gung Haggis paddlers Steven Wong who
had been sitting in the audience. It was great fun, learning to Irish
step dance. We shall have to organize a ceil dance party for Gung
Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, food and social club.

After I stepped off the stage and outside the Performance Works building, I met the New Works producer Barbara Clausen, who had hired dancer/choreographer Andrea Nann to do some workshops in Vancouver last year.  I love Andrea…  She worked with author Michael Ondaatje and choreographed some dances based on his works for explorASIAN in 2003.  Andrea came and performed a dance for the Save Kogawa House Nov 12 Special Concert awareness event at the Vancouver Public Library in 2005.  I think it would be fun to work together with Barbara Clausen on a Gung Haggis Fat Choy type of project.

Barabra hasput together and incredible array of Sunday events at Ron Basford Park on Granville Island as part of New Works “All Over the Map” Dance and music series.  Two weeks ago our dragon boat team paddled by Granville Island and hear the Japanese Taiko drums of Uzume Taiko.

Next up for “All Over the Map”:

July 29th – Feel It!
– Tango Paradiso Ensemble with Dancers
August 12th – Shake it!
– Guinean Dance and Music with Kocassale Dioubate and friends
August 19th – Hit it!
– Traditional Indonesian Dance and Music in partnership with the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia.

Gung Haggis dragon boat team races Harrison…. cancels Sunday practice

Gung Haggis dragon boat team races Harrison…. cancels Sunday practice

Hi everybody….

Gung Haggis paddlers agreed to cancel Sunday's practice for July 22nd.

people would still like to do something… such as paddle canoes… or
watch a movie, or rollerblade or go for lunch…. – I will be there. 
1pm Sunday as normal.

We raced today July 21st at the Fraser Valley Dragon Boat Races, at beautiful Harrison Lake, set beside the town of Harrison Hot Springs.  Everybody had lots of fun.  Good cameraderie all around.  Lots of compliments from team paddlers, and other teams.

We are very tired from a very long day at Harrison.
We raced 4 hard paddled races.
We were up early by 4am to arrive by 7am
There were long delays and the races weren't finished by 7:30 when we had left.

We made it to Rec B division Mixed

There was Comp, Rec A, Rec B, Rec C

We had some great races.
first race – came 1st against lower Rec teams
2nd race – came 4th against higher Rec + Comp teams
race – very solid race in Rec B semi ( we were 4th in our race) tough
competition – good compliments from people watching the race.
4th race – very tired race in Rec B consolation – we came 3rd…. and have the ribbons to prove it!

Must go to bed now…
See you tomorrow…
We will prepare roster for Vernon July
and car pools for Vernon etc.

Cowboy Versus Samurai: Vancouver Asian Theatre is the winner as play beats up on Asian stereotypes

Cowboy Versus Samurai:
Vancouver Asian Theatre is the winner as play beats up on Asian stereotypes

Lots of laughs in the right places greeted the opening night for Cowboy Versus Samurai.  It is a witty and funny play that explores Asian stereotypes… and stereotypes of Caucasians who date Asians!

We had a group of 15 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boaters go out to dinner at Wild Ginger restaurant then attend the “Cowboy Versus Samurai” play, produced by Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre.  The play is performed at Firehall Arts Centre, due to the impending City of Vancouver civic workers strike. Our group really enjoyed the play – which itself is multi-cultural, full of Chinese-Canadians, Caucasian-Canadians, Mixed Race couples and politically and community active individuals – All topics related to the play's content.

Cowboy Versus Samurai places three Asian-Americans in a small town in Wyoming, forced to deal with the racism of being a non-white minority.  They explore their identities, through a Love Quadrangle where the two Asians must compete with a White Cowboy for the affections of the only Asian woman in town.  Hilarious situations occur, because one of the Asian fellows secretly aids the letter writing campaign of the White cowboy, a la Cyranode Bergerac or the Steve Martin movie “Roxanne.”  It's a great situational set-up that allows identities to hide each other like costumes or envelopes.  Well… actually they are like love letters or “scratch and win” cards that hint of hope and pleasure while unopened, but can only reveal truth of happiness or disappointment when opened or scratched.

A more comprehensive review to follow…. with pictures!

I have to go to sleep now, because I have to wake up early to go to dragon boat races at Harrison Lake.

Photos from opening night reception party!

Kilts and family history abound during two episodes of the 6-part Generations series on CBC Newsworld

Kilts and family history abound during two episodes of the 6-part Generations series on CBC Newsworld

out what a 250 year old Anglophone family in Quebec City and a 120 year
old Chinese-Canadian family in Vancouver have in common.

Both have:
bagpipes and kilts
+ accordion music
+ canoe/dragon boat racing
+ immigration as a topic
+ Church music
+ archival photos/newsreels of an ex-premier
+ cultural/racial discrimination stories
+ prominent Canadian historical events to show how
   the families embraced them or were challenged by them
+ both featured saving a historical literary landmark.
+ younger generation learning the non-English language

Generations: The Chan Legacy features Todd Wong, founder of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, a quirky Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner, which inspired a CBC Vancouver television performance special.  Todd's involvements with Terry Fox Run, Joy Kogawa House campaign and dragon boat racing are also shown.

July 29th 4pm PST / July 30th 12am

4:00 p.m. Generations: The Chan Legacy
– Missionaries from China come to the West Coast help Westernize Chinese immigrant workers in the late 1800's.
Generations: The Chan Legacy

August 5th 4pm PST

4:00 p.m. Generations: The Blairs of Quebec
– An Anglophone family with 250 years of history in Quebec City struggles to maintain it's heritage.
Generations: The Blairs of Quebec

July 4, 10 pm ET/PT, July 8 10 am ET, July 29, 7 pm ET
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 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
Chan and his wife Wong Chiu Lin 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. 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, Reverend Chan's granddaughter Helen Lee, grandson
Victor Wong, and great grandson Gary Lee recall being barred from
theaters, swimming pools 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, 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.

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 Michelle Cheung.

July 11, 10 pm ET/PT, July 15, 10 am ET, August 5, 7 pm ET

250 years, the Blair family has been part of the Protestant Anglophone
community of Quebec City. The Anglophones were once the dominant
cultural and economic force in the city, but now they are a tiny
minority, and those who have chosen to stay have had to adapt to a very
different world. Louisa Blair guides us through the story of her
family, which is also the story of a community that had to change.
Ronnie Blair
Ronnie Blair

senior member of the family today is Ronnie Blair. He grew up in
Quebec, but like generations of Blairs before him, he worked his way up
the corporate ladder in the Price Company with the lumber barons of the
Saguenay. Ronnie Blair's great grandfather came to the Saguenay from
Scotland in 1842. Ronnie's mother was Jean Marsh. Her roots go back to
the first English families to make Quebec home after British troops
defeated the French on the Plains of Abraham in 1759. The Marsh family
amassed a fortune in the shoe industry in Quebec City.

Marshes and the Blairs were part of a privileged establishment that
lived separately from the Catholics and the Francophones, with their
own churches and institutions. The Garrison Club for instance, is a
social club that is still an inner sanctum for Quebec's Anglo

Blair family
The Blair family

Work took Ronnie Blair and his family to England in the 1960’s but his
children longed to return to Canada, and to Quebec City. Alison Blair
was the first to return, as a student, in 1972. Her brother David
followed in 1974. Both were excited by the political and social changes
that had taken place during the Quiet Revolution in Quebec and threw
themselves into everything Francophone. David learned to speak French,
married a French Canadian and settled into a law practice.

came the Referendum of 1995, a painful moment in the history of the
Anglophone community, and for the passionate Blairs. But David decided
he was in Quebec to stay, and today his children are bilingual and
bicultural. More recently his sister Louisa also returned to Quebec
City and a desire to rediscover her past led her to write a book
called, The Anglos, the Hidden Face of Quebec. Her daughter is also is
growing up bilingual and bicultural, representing a new generation
comfortable in both worlds.

Produced by Jennifer Clibbon and Lynne Robson.