The Chinese Canadian Historical Society has contributed a lot to helping recognize and develop stories about the Chinese pioneers in Canada. I participated in the second set of writing workshops led by author/editor Brandy Lien Worrall. These stories became the book Eating Stories:
The CCHS likes to hold events at Foo's Ho Ho restaurant because it cooks the old style Cantonese dishes that the pioneer Chinese brought with them to Canada in the late 1800's and early 1900's. I remember many family dinners at the Ho Ho Restaurant during the 1960's and 1970's.
On Saturday Night, CCHS honoured Brandy Lien-Worrall for leading the CCHS writing workshops, which singlehandedly helped fund and make a reality the Edgar Wickberg scholarships for students studying Chinese-Canadian history. Brandy really is an amazing and inspiring person. Not only did she succeed in editing the Eating Stories anthology over the summer and seeing it through to publication in November, but she did it while fighting a serious bout with breast cancer. On January 1st, I named Brandy to a list of Chinese Canadians that inspired me for 2007.
It was a wonderful community dinner. CCHS president Hayne
Wai was emcee. Malispina University professor Imogene Lim and film
maker Karin Lee took tickets at the door. Dr. Jan Walls made a
wonderful clapper tale tribute to Brandy. Author Wayson Choy was in
The dinner also featured performances from sketch comedy troupe Assaulted Fish, performing their hilarious Jackie Chan skits.
After the skits, some of the members of the writers workshops gave tributes or roasts in speeches about Brandy. I chose the former, sharing that many of the people taking the workshops never before saw themselves as writers. They just wanted to learn how to document stories about their families with a food theme. But along the way, they all became writers. And I saw their confidence and their self-esteem as writers blossom.
“If there was one gift I could give to Brandy,” I said, “it would be as my new role as co-president of the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop to continue creating workshops like these to continue to tell the stories of Chinese Canadians and share them with our communities.”
And I forgot to say that way back in the late 1980's, ACWW founding
member Jim Wong-Chu started collecting stories for an anthology
published as Many Mouthed Birds
(1991). It included writings by Paul Yee, Denise Chong, Evelyn Lau.
SKY Lee, and a short story by Wayson Choy titled Jade Peony. Douglas
McIntyre saw the short story, and asked for it to be expanded into a
novel. The rest is history. Paul Yee won the inaugural Vancouver Book
Prize for Saltwater City (1989), followed by SKY Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe (1990) Denise Chong's The Concubine's Children (1994), Wayson Choy's The Jade Peony (1996).
you just never know where an anthology can go….
Congratulations to all you now-published writers…
and another round of thank yous and applause to our dear editor, teacher, mentor and visionary task master – Brandy!