A Tartan Day dragon boat paddle practice… with bagpiper and proclamation reading

HAPPY TARTAN DAY dragon boat practice!

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Michael Brophy holds Scottish flag, Todd Wong, Deputy Mayor Raymond Louie, bagpiper Joe McDonald – photo Georgia Thorburn

A very different kind of dragon boat practice today.

When I arrived, we passed out the tartan kilts, and the tartan sashes.  Because…

We had a City TV cameraman John Wilson come film our practice this afternoon.

And a bagpiper, my friend Joe McDonald, walked over from the Skytrain
station, while we were doing our warm-up under the covered gazebo.

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Raymond Louie holds the proclamation, while Joe McDonald plays his bagpipers – photo Todd Wong

We had a proclamation reading ceremony with the deputy mayor of
Vancouver, city councilor Raymond Louie.  Raymond used to paddle
dragon boats, and he shared a story, how on a day – just like today. 
with a bit of wind, and a bit or rain… he went out on the boat with
his team the Vancouver Sun Strokers.  And they capsized just beyond the
Cambie St. Bridge.

I told a story about Vancouver s Scottish heritage goes way back to the
first mayor in 1886 – Malcolm Alexander  McLean… way back to the
first Prime Minister in 1867 – Sir John Eh MacDonald…. way back to
the first Governor of British Columbia – James Douglas in 1858.

Tartan Day was first celebrated in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1986 to help celebrate Canada s Scottish heritage. 

In 1993 Tartan Day was proclaimed in B.C.

In 2002, Sean Connery leads 10,000 bagpipers through the centre of New York for Tartan Day.

And in Vancouver…. nothing…. for Tartan Day…. until this past week.
Tartan Day was proclaimed in Vancouver City Council

I asked Raymond Louie to explain how it happened.  He said there were a
lot of e-mails between us, and he credited me for making it happen, as
I emailed my connections in the Scottish cultural community, and had
the proclamation draft written by Ron MacLeod, Chair V of the SFU
Scottish Studies program.  The motion was made by Heather Deal and
seconded by Raymond.  Deputy Mayor Louie then read the proclamation.

Joe McDonald played another song on his bagpipes.  It was raining. 
People were smiling, and taking pictures.  It was Pam s first practice
with us, and she had kilt on (does she really know what she is getting
into).  It was wonderful for team spirit.

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Joe McDonald pipes the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team down to the dragon boat for their special Tartand Day Sunday practice – photo Lena Yamulky

We organized the team above the dock, and we were led down the ramp to
the docks by bagpiper Joe MacDonald.  We climbed into the boat.  And as
the paddlers backed the boat out, I unfurled the Scottish flag,
attached to the hockey stick.  The tv camerman was filming us… and it
looked real good.

Then somebody spotted team member Steven Wong, just coming down the
dock.  Question.  Do we continue backpaddling, or come in for Steven. 

We are an inclusive team.  Steven is a big part of our team.  We
paddled back in, waited for him to get a pdf, find a seat in the boat,
then paddled out for the camera again.

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Bagpiper Joe McDonald plays the pipes, as the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team loads the boat – photo Lena Yamulky

The flag unfurled beautifully.  When we started paddling forward, and
the flag flew nicely.  As we gained speed, it flapped strongly. 
Wheee!!!! Big smiles on our faces.  Great Fun for Tartan Day.

It was a good practice.  The rain stopped for the most part.  We
paddled pretty strongly with 23 paddlers out past David Lam Park.  We
did some technique exercises, backs and fronts, and kept the boat
moving.  We were back just after 2pm.  A shorter practice than usual –
but pretty good for a cold rainy day.

Following the practice, we had a leadership council meeting at the Wolf & Hound pub over on West Broadway.

Looking forward to seeing the everybody out on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Vancouver Tartan Day

See pictures on Flickr:  Vancouver Tartan Day

See more on www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com

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