I am one of 45 recipients of the BC Community Achievement Award for 2008

Just got back from Victoria from the BC Community Achievement Awards Ceremonies. Wow…

Todd Wong receives BC Community Achievement Award from Premier Gordon Campbell at Government House – photo Betty Wong

BC Community Achievement Awards 2008

From the April 23 news release

“The BC Community Achievement Awards recognize people from across
our province who enrich the lives of others, give freely of their time
and energy, and who embody the spirit of and passion of our
communities,” said Premier Campbell. “Through their actions, they
demonstrate the power of one person to make a positive impact on an
entire community, and an entire province. It is an honour to recognize
their achievements and celebrate their contributions towards making
British Columbia the best place on Earth.”

“This year's recipients demonstrate that British Columbians are
making a difference in every area of our province,” said foundation
chair Keith Mitchell. “Whether they live in smaller communities such as
New Hazelton and Tofino or the major centres like Victoria, Cranbrook
and the Lower Mainland, they have found ways making each of their
communities a better place to live.”

Please arrive by 1:15pm were the instructions to award recipients.  All
45 recipients were gathered in a room at Government House, where we
were explained the protocol of the event. What order, Where to stand on
stage, how to address the Premier and the Lt. Gov. Then Lt. Gov.
Stephen Point and Premier Gordon Campbell came into the room and shook
hands with each person. We had been instructed to say “Hello you
Honour, Premier,” and state our name and where we were from.

Next we were to be piped in to the ball room by the Lt. Gov. personal bagpiper, Pipe Major John Major. As soon as the bagpipe music started, somebody pointed at me and my kilt.  I smiled and feigned covering my ears.  Back at the end of the line in the hallway, I could hear the sound of the audience clapping to the beat of the music.

Walking into the Government House ballroom was special.  An audience of 200 were clapping and full of smiles.  There were TV cameras filming us as we walked in.  My mother was standing beside them with her new point and shoot digital camera.  My girlfriend Deb waved enthusiastically to me, as I walked up the centre aisle to find my seat.

ceremony began with inspiring speeches from Kyle Mitchell, Chair of the
BC Achievement Foundation and Gordon Campbell, Premier of BC.

45 recipients were each named, and a very nice bio for each person highlighting their achievements was read by Keith Mitchell.

I listened to 44 remarkable bios, amazing in scope, but similar in dedication and commitment. From creating programs  for seniors, or suicide prevention to civic duty, fundraising, artistic creations and leadership.  You cannot help but be humbled by the achievements of these award recipients. 

Then… my name was called. I was last on the list.  And a bio was read about me.  It seemed amazing that they could find so many positive things to say about me, and I could only nod in acknowledgment.  I smiled at the audience, knowing everybody was watching me, as I had watched others on stage.  And it is humbling to simply accept the process, and not try to deflect any of the praise, but simply accept and to acknowledge that you are this person they are speaking about.  These are your achievements.

The speaker began be describing my contributions for promoting Asian-Canadian arts and literature.  Next he  described Gung Haggis Fat Choy, and people laughed in good humour.  And when they described the campaign to save historic Joy Kogawa House, heads nodded and faces smiled. 

Official picture: Lt. Gov. Stephen L. Point, Todd Wong, Premier Gordon Campbell.

Todd Wong is being honoured today for his devotion to community
service, building bridges and cross-cultural understanding. A fifth
generation Canadian, Todd is an avid promoter of Asian Canadian arts
and literature and was one of the founders and leaders of the
successful campaign to save the Joy Kogawa House. Todd created the
annual celebration known as Gung Haggis Fat Choy which honours Chinese
New Year and Robbie Burns Day. Todd has also contributed to the dragon
boat community as a race organizer and coach and he has spoken at Terry
Fox Runs since 1993. Wong exemplifies the impact one individual can
have to inspire others to be creative, build bridges and span cultures.

As I approached Premier Gordon Campbell, to receive my medallion, beautifully designed by Robert Davidson, he greeted me and said “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.”  I chuckled and smiled back at him, “Gung Haggis Fat Choy… you will have to come next time.” 

Then I shook hands with Lt. Gov. Stephen Point, he said “Congratulations,” and handed me a certificate.  I stood between these two men, and we looked at the official photographer in front of the stage.  My girlfriend Deb was right beside taking a few photographs, beaming proudly. 

My parents stood beside my friend David Kogawa who had nominated me for the award. And new friends author Gary Geddes and his wife Anne joined them.

The ceremony concluded with a speech by Lt. Gov. Point, in which he praised the achievements of the collective recipients.

So many people came up to me afterwards saying they had heard me on radio, or seen me on television, or had always wanted to come.  I may have even talked the Mayor of Kamloops into organizing a Kamloops Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner now.  I know that I am one of the lucky ones that receives the media attention for my events and community service, but every single person's story was heart touching, and truly an example of the unsung heroics of community service.  There were no rock stars, jazz divas, industry magnates or basketball stars attending like at the Order of BC awards.  Everybody there was simply a hard working citizen, committed to their community.  And it is so nice that they can each be recognized.

It's a wonderful feeling to know that your creations and contributions in the world have reached so many people in a positive way, directly or in many of these cases… indirectly.  And to think I almost died from cancer back in 1989.  I would have missed this party!

Pictures to follow as soon as Deb loads them up…. stay tuned!

2008 recipients group photo
of BC's most dedicated citizens stand with Premier Gordon Campbell and
Lt. Gov. Stephen Point, and BC Achievement Foundation Chair Keith
Mitchell, following the ceremonies. I can be spotted wearing my cream
jacket directly behind Premier Campbell.  I am standing between my
Vancouver arts community friends Naomi Singer on my left, and Savannah
Walling on my right,T
erry Hunter is immediately behind Savannah.  Also on my left is fellow kilt wearer Gordon Barrett in his Irish Pipes and Drums uniform – too bad you can't see our kilts.

One thought on “I am one of 45 recipients of the BC Community Achievement Award for 2008

  1. Anonymous

    I am listening to the news about food shortages and rice rationing, even here in North America, and want to express my concern about the sheer volume of rice being served, and wasted, in Chinese restaurants.
    I often have trouble convincing restaurant servers/owners to give me less rice on a plate of “rice with”, and have lost the battle this week with one owner who replied that that was the right amount for that place, and I could just leave it, even when I argued that I certainly was not asking to pay less; that I was offering to save her money. And then there are the insulated buckets of rice put on the table, often out of proportion to the number of guests. I don't even try when it comes to noodles!
    For our health's sake (given the epidemic of diabetes) , we need to reduce this kind of carbohydrate “supersizing” that is more visible in other restaurants, but occuring here also.
    And such waste! Even if they are also participating in the food runner program.
    I am suggesting it is time to conserve rice and treat it more respectfully. If we serve less abundantly here, both in restaurants and at home, we can free up supplies for the poor elsewhere, whether in our own cities or in Asia.
    So, don't you think it is time to go on a campaign to get the Chinese restaurants to start asking “How much rice [noodles] would you like?”
    And can you think of a better person to lead the charge than you?
    /Penny Simpson


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