Reconciliation Dinner: Addressing the 1907 Anti-Asian riot and a century of change
The dinner was good. In the theme of Anniversaries of Change, it
wasn't stuck on an anti-anti-asian theme. There were a few speeches
by George Chow, the organizer of the event, and a welcoming by Larry
Grant of the Musqueam Nation – whom I invited to come as a special
guest to the next Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.
There was a short panel discussion where members from different aspects of the community gave their take about the anniversary of change. Dr. Henry Yu spoke first. He is also the chair of the Anniversaries of Change committee.
Rika Uto, spoke about the Japanese community. She is also the chair of the Japanese Language School.
Bill Saunders spoke from a labour perspective, acknowledging that many of labour's members have all been immigrants throughout our province's history.
Harley Wylie reminded everybody that the 1907 riot took place on traditional Musqueam lands, and gave a First Nations perspective.
Sketch comedy troupe Assaulted Fish, performed riffs on Asian and caucasian stereotypes…. very funny!
the 2nd dinner break, I decided to explore the North side of the room and stopped by to say hello to my friend Meena Wong who was sitting with her friends from SUCCESS. Last year Meena arranged for me to be interviewed by the SUCCESS youth leadership training
I saw the students from the SUCCESS youth leadership training
program at their table, some were holding their cell phones, text messaging their friends.
I asked them how they were enjoying the dinner. I told them that
there were many many cultural and community leaders in the room, and
would they like to meet people, and learn networking skills. I asked
if they would like to meet Minister of Multiculturalism Jason Kenney.
They said yes…
So a table of 10 students + their 3 adult sponsors followed me to the
front of the stage… where city councillor George Chow was getting up
from his seat. I introduced them to George, and he shared some wisdom
with this group that I introduced as “future community leaders”
Then we went over to Jason Kenney's table where SUCCESS ceo Tung Chan
presided over introductions. Kenney told the kids about the naming of
the Douglas Jung building, and the contributions that Jung and the
Chinese Canadian veterans had made for the community.
I asked the kids that since Kenney had told them about the veterans –
would they like to meet some Chinese Canadian Veterans… They said
yes! I introduced them to Col. Howe Lee, founder of the Chinese
Canadian Military Museum (whom Barb met on Nov 11) and Peggy Lee, the
first Chinese Canadian woman volunteer in the military auxillary.
“Who's next Todd?” somebody asked. Darn… they were enjoying meeting community leaders.
“Let's go meet the people I have been sitting with.” I replied.
I introduced them to City Councillors Heather Deal and Raymond Louie.
Heather is also a biologist with the David Suzuki Foundation, and I
told the kids that if they ever visit the Vancouver Aquarium, they will
see a life size picture of Heather that they can take a picture with.
Raymond is a descendant of one of the earliest Chinese pioneers Yip
Sang… and also used to ride bicycles competitively and helped to
found the Taiwanese Dragon Boat races.
Andrea Reimer was there too! The first Green Party member elected…
to Vancouver School Board – where I first met her when I did a
presentation to include Asian Heritage Month as part of the school
curriculum. She is executive director of the Wilderness Committee and
recently was trained by former US vice-president Al Gore to give
presentations of “An Inconvenient Truth” – If you want to talk to
somebody about helping to save the environment… talk to Andrea.
Dr. Kerry Jang is an award winning medical doctor from the UBC school
of Psychiatry, but now he is turning his energy to community service. Last year Jang received the BC Community Service Award.
The students thought this was good.
Then we went over to the next table where I introduced them first to my
friend Charlie Cho, CBC researcher, writer, and now a playwright of
“Twisting Fortunes.” I first met Charlie when he was editor of
Also on the table was Charlie Smith, editor of the Georgia Straight.
Back in 1993, Charlie called me up for my first ever radio interview.
I had just received the SFU Terry Fox Medal for courage in adversity
and dedication to community, and it was Charlie who put me on CBC
Radio's “Early Edition.”
Next we introduced Joan Andersen, Regional Director of CBC Radio in
British Columbia. I have known Joan many years through some of my
involvements with CBC Radio. She was surprised last year when she had
the honour of presenting me with my 30 year service pin, in her role of
Vancouver Public Library Board Chair.
The editor of the Sing Tao Chinese language newspaper was sitting next
to Joan, so they got to meet him too! But one of the first questions
was to Charlie Cho… asking about Ricepaper Magazine.