Vancouver has a large Scottish diaspora. There is a Scottish Cultural Studies program at Simon Fraser University, also home to one of the best bagpipe bands in the world. There is a stature of Robbie Burns in Stanley Park. There are TWO Robbie Burns dinners in Vancouver Chinatown… the 45+ year old tradition by the Chinatown Lions Club which is a traditional Burns type supper… and of course the wild and wacky Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner, created by yours truly – Toddish McWong
It is this latter dinner that is considered a “Friend of Scotland” and posted on the web page article A Thistle Wrapped in Maple Leaves.
Sometimes I get invited to Scottish events by the British Consulate in Vancouver. Here is the First Minister's 2008 message for Burns Night, sent to me from Russell Walker:
This month we are celebrating
Scotland's national bard, Rabbie Burns. All over Scotland, and the
world, people are organising Burns Suppers and ceilidhs celebrating the
poet with a supper of haggis, neeps and tatties.
Burns Night brings all of Scotland's
cultures together to celebrate our country's national poet, beloved
songwriter and cultural ambassador. The range of Burns' work is vast.
Writing in the late eighteenth century, he dealt with major themes of
his day such as politics and the role of the Kirk; as well as the
eternal questions of love, social justice and nationhood.
The Scotland of Burns' day owed him
much. Burns not only helped to restore Scots' pride and confidence in
the nation. He also did his best to support the Scots language when it
was under threat. Published in 1786, the 'Kilmarnock volume' – or
Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect – contained some of Burns' best
work and it was a timely boost for Scotland's language and culture.
Modern Scots also owe a debt to Rabbie
Burns. As one of our nation's greatest figures, he embodies many of our
distinctive qualities: compassion, humanity and a passion for learning
– as well as a sharp wit and an urge to question conventional wisdom.
When we honour Rabbie Burns, we don't simply remember a great poet and
songwriter. We also pay homage to a man of enduring vision and values;
a Scot who showed us our uniqueness and our huge potential.
The celebration of our national Bard
doesn't end at our shores. Events will be held across the world. From
St Andrews to St Petersburg, Burns is celebrated in every corner of the
globe. The Bard's universality is shown by the number of events today,
remembering him with a dram of whisky, Burns Supper, and recital of his
This year, Burns Night will also close
Scotland's first ever Winter Festival. Looking back to the wonderful
events we have held for St Andrew's Day and Hogmanay, the Winter
Festival has been a huge success for our nation. I am greatly looking
forward to the celebrations in years to come and to our Homecoming 2009
Here's to Burns, his enduring legacy, his pride in our nation and his inspiration for our Homecoming celebrations – for auld lang syne.
Yours for Scotland
Alex Salmond MP MSP, First Minister of Scotland
International Networks – “Global Friends of Scotland”
Europe, External Affairs and Culture
5 Cadogan St
+44 (0) 141 242 5791
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