Remembrance Day 2007 in Vancouver's Chinatown: building a new tradition to remember the contributions of the past
The crowds are growing larger each year for the Remembrance Day Ceremonies at the Monument to Canadian Chinese at Keefer Triangle in Vancouver Chinatown – but the numbers of the veterans are growing smaller each year. photo Todd Wong
Everybody knows about the big Remembrance Day ceremony at Victory Square at Hastings and Cambie Streets in Vancouver. But not everybody knows there are simultaneous ceremonies at the Japanese Canadian War Memoria in Stanley Park, or in Grandview Park, or South Memorial Park. Left off the the Vancouver Park Board – 2007 Special Events Calendar was the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Monument to Canadian Chinese at Keefer Triangle in Vancouver Chinatown.
It is the Chinese-Canadian veterans accompanied by First Nations veterans that attend two Remembrance Day ceremonies each year. First they attend the Victory Square ceremonies at 10:30 am, then the now four year old ceremonies a the Monument to Canadian Chinese
I have attended the Remembrance Day ceremonies steadily over the past 7 years in support of my grand-uncle Daniel Lee who is one of the Victory Square event organizers. His brothers Howard and Leonard and cousin Victor Wong also served in WW2 – all were descendants of Rev. Chan Yu Tan who came to Canada in 1896. My father's brother James Wong also served in WW2.
I know how cold the veterans can get in between the two ceremonies. Usually after the Victory Square ceremony, they will head straight to Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant to get warmed up. The clouds were threatening rain, so I skipped the Victory Square Cenotaph
ceremony and drove home to North Vancouver to assemble my 8X8 tents,
and bring them to the Vancouver Chinatown Remembrance Day ceremonies
for 12:30pm. This way the vets might have some added protection. But the rains didn't happen, and I left the tents in the car. But the organizers still appreciated the gesture.
My Grand-uncle Daniel Lee is once again president of Pacific Unit 280 Veterans Association. He and his good friend Ed Lee (also a past-president) led the veterans, and the beavers, cubs and scouts in their parade walk across Columbia Street to the Memorial.
This year's ceremony involved more of a First Nations involvement. Members of the Aboriginal Front Door Society brought their drums and sang a special song to honour the First Nations veterans and Chinese-Canadian veterans.
There were many wreaths to be laid this year. The City of Vancouver wreath was laid jointly by Raymond Louie and B.C. Lee. Raymond has attended every year since 2004. A wreath was also laid by veteran Roy Mah's widow, as Roy passed away earlier this year. Tung Chan and Ken Tung laid a wreath from SUCCESS and Wendy Yuan also laid a wreath.
After the ceremony all the veterans with their family and friends headed over to Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant for the traditional Pacific Unit 280 luncheon. Members of our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team also attended the ceremony and the luncheon. Paddler Art Calderwood's father Douglas Jung had been a very active member of Pacific Unit 280 up to his death in 2002. In May of this year, a film biography I Am The Canadian Delegate about Douglas Jung, was produced and directed by Wesley Lowe – who is also the chaplain of Pacific Unit 280. On September 7th, the federal office building at 401 Burrard St was named after Douglas Jung, with members of Pacific Unit 280 in full dress kit.
Paddler Steven Wong's family also has deep Chinatown connections as his father Bill Wong operates Modernize Tailors with his brother Jack. Veteran Alex Louie insisted I take him to say hello to Steven, when I told him which members of our dragon boat team were attending the luncheon. It was Alex's daughter Jeri Osborn who created the NFB film documentary Unwanted Soldiers, which told the story of how Canada did not originally want Canadian born Chinese to become Canadian soldiers.
Paddler Gerard Graal was born in Holland, so he and his family were very grateful for the Canadian troops that helped liberate Holland in WW2. Also attending the luncheon was Gerard's paddler wife Keng, and paddler Cindy.
See my pictures at: