Monthly Archives: June 2008

Robertson beats Louie and De Genova to the Vision Vancouver mayor candidacy

Gregor Robertson wins Vision Vancouver mayoral candidacy.

“How's a girl to choose?” says Deb Martin, standing beside Raymond Louie and Gregor Robertson at the 2008 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner – photo Dave Samis

“They are both intelligent, educated, community minded, and qualified for the job as mayor…. and they look great in kilts!”  Deb helps me organize the Gung Haggis dinner and was thrilled to grab these two for a picture.

It was an exciting leadership race between Louie, Robertson and Al De Genova – all of whom we have gotten to know better over the past year.  We sat with Al at the Think City Dream Vancouver event.  They are all stout-hearted men and good-hearted human beings.

DSC_081736174 - Gregor signsDSC_079636153  - Raymond greeting votersDSC_081936176 - Dr Kerry JANGDSC_107736415 - AL

DSC_099236332 - RaymondDSC_080636163 - Gregor greeting votersDSC_082236179 - AL's supporterDSC_111736454 - Lion dance

Patrick Tam took some great pictures of the day – check them out at:

I went down to the Vision Vancouver voting at 10am to be greeted by lots of balloons, greetings from the candidates and their supporters.  Raymond quickly slapped a sticker on me as he welcomed me down to the vote. 

When I saw my friends Elsie and Shaena handing out Gregor stickers, they quickly asked me for my second vote for Gregor.

It was very fortunate that the day was sunny and dry, a long line up snaked through the parking lot before entering the Croatian Cultural Centre.  Inside the lineup further snaked down a hallway, then through the smaller auditorium where video showed the Tyee / 24 Hours Vision leadership debate, and a silent auction table was set up.

Inside the voting auditorium, I was greeted with a hug from Tonya Louie, Raymond's wife, whom I have known since 2002, when I was a volunteer for Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society, and she was a board member.  I introduced her to my cousin, architect Joe Wai, one of our community's role models, and devoted community builders.

I have found both Raymond, Gregor and Al all very community-minded and accessible politicians.  It's been very informative during this Vision mayoralty candidacy race to learn more about their views, beliefs, positions and community involvements.

During the Vancouver civic strike.  It was Raymond Louie who called for a mediated settlement two weeks into the strike.  Was Raymond a visionary, as the strike was settled with a mediated settlement between the city's three unions?  It was also Vision's two councilors George Chow and Raymond Louie who came out to talk with city workers following each union rally at city hall.

As a CUPE 391 Vancouver Library Worker, I have to say that I was very disappointed with the NPA's handling of the Vancouver Civic Strike, which prompted Vancouver library workers to go on strike for the first time in their 80 year union history, ultimately settling for a mediated agreement which most municipalities had already settled for without an unnecessary 3 month strike.

Check out Patrick Tam's photos of the day

Check out Frances Bula's article in the Vancouver Sun
Robertson wins Vision vote

Check out Frances Bula's blog
Blog: Frances Bula covers the Vision Vancouver nomination battle on 'City States'

Why the world needs more Canada – Vancouver Sun by Khalil Shariff, ceo of Aga Khan Foundation Canada

Why the world needs more Canada.

Khalil Shariff is the CEO of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.  On June 12th, he gave a talk for the Canadian Club Vancouver titled “Global Citizenship: Canada, the world and you.”

It was an inspiring and touching talk that provided insight on Canada's role in international development.

Shariff spoke that Canadians and Canada don't often understand or acknowledge their gifts to the world.

He recounted a discussion with an East African colleague about the generosity of a lot of nations who give more than Canada –  for example, the
Scandinavians are more prolific donors.  But his colleauge told him “No one goes to bed at
night dreaming that one day they might be Swedish…. They go to bed at night dreaming that one day they might be Canadian.”

The Vancouver Sun's Don Cayo attended the Canadian Club luncheon and wrote:
Focusing on what is done right in the fight against poverty

Here is the special editorial that Khalil Sharrif wrote for the Vancouver Sun, published on June 12, 2008.

Why the world needs more Canada – Khalil Shariff writes in Vancouver Sun 

June 12, 2008

Posted by ismailimail in Aga Khan Foundation, Canada, Ismaili Muslims in the News, North America.


Why the world needs more Canada
Our history of international development assistance has resulted in marked improvements around the world

Khalil Z. Shariff is chief executive officer of the Aga Khan Foundation in Canada.
Special to the Sun

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The statistics are well-known and don’t require repeating: The
extent of poverty in the world is widespread and troubling. Half the
world — nearly three billion people — lives on less than $2 a day.

What is less clear is how to address the dilemma.

The answer is complex, and demands efforts along many dimensions.
One part of that answer, though, is rooted in Canada’s own history of
supporting international development.

Twenty-five years ago, in the geographically isolated and
economically marginalized regions of northern Pakistan, Canada —
through funding from the Canadian International Development Agency and
the Aga Khan Development Network — began an ambitious development
effort. Built on the premise that beneficiaries, over time, must become
the masters of the development process, the program brought together
communities in local village organizations and helped them to define
priorities and begin working towards achieving them.

Vancouver Sun

Communities began to invest in small infrastructure to increase
agricultural productivity and link their villages to markets. They
started modest savings programs and lending activities to increase
income for their families, made the education of the next generation —
especially girls — a priority, and focused on improving maternal and
child health care, housing and living conditions.

This development experiment revealed that community organizations
and the vibrant civil society which they represented were a key to
lasting improvements in quality of life.

When village organizations were patiently nurtured, incredible
things started to happen: Incomes tripled, infant mortality dropped 25
per cent and literacy for women and men increased to unprecedented
levels, outpacing human development indicators in other parts of the

These small village institutions created the capacity for
self-development that ensured outside help was effective and its
benefits were sustainable.

Over time, many Canadians and Canadian institutions contributed to
this experiment, including our universities, which contributed to
educating a generation of leaders in the area.

They, too, recognized that change is a long-term process — one that
must begin from within communities, one that cannot be imposed or
dictated by outsiders or experts.

This experience is not unique. With the Aga Khan Development Network
and other partners, Canada has used these principles and values to work
in many different contexts: From the semi-arid areas of coastal Kenya
to the lush but isolated villages of northern Mozambique; from the
harsh mountainous regions of Tajikistan to the remote valleys of
Afghanistan, emerging from decades of conflict.

From improving rural livelihoods to building institutions that
educate world-class leaders in areas such as nursing and teaching, to
spurring the growth of a strong civil society and thriving private
businesses, we have stayed true to these basic values and adopted a
long-term horizon, and we have seen important and sustainable results.

We have seen examples of development that works, and more Canadians need to know about them.

In fact, it is clear that Canadians are going to be called upon to
be more sophisticated in our understanding of the nature of global
poverty and instability, and to demand intelligent international
development from our leaders. In places like northern Afghanistan, our
work with Canadians shows that success is possible if we bring our
accumulated expertise to bear in support of the processes of
reconstruction and development.

Bridges that Unite, a travelling exhibition sponsored by Aga Khan
Foundation Canada that opens today at the Roundhouse in Vancouver, is
an effort to strengthen exactly this kind of educated and engaged
citizenry when it comes to Canada’s role in international development.

Visitors will encounter questions and images that are designed to
challenge simplistic ideas of what development looks like, herald the
accomplishments that Canadians can rightly be proud of, and inspire new
visions of Canadian global leadership in the future.

They will also be invited to consider how a ring of chairs and a
flipchart, which is the setting for social change in communities around
the world, can replace our idea of development as hand-outs to the poor.

Above all, Bridges that Unite hopes to stimulate a conversation in
this country about what Canadian global leadership will look like in
the 21st century.

At its best, Canada has helped communities in the developing world
lift themselves out of poverty, with their dignity and pride intact,
and their pluralism strengthened. These contributions have helped
Canada to be seen not only as a generous country, but as a thoughtful
and humane global leader.

That’s a Canada that the world could certainly use more of.

Khalil Z. Shariff is chief executive officer of the Aga Khan Foundation in Canada.

Vancouver Sun

Raymond Louie's “sure and steady” strategy is good for his run to be the Vision mayor candidate – Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight

Raymond Louie's campaign to be the Vision Vancouver mayor candidate grows stronger everyday. 

I am constantly amazed at the new names that endorse Raymond.  On Tuesday, I learned that CUPE 1004 Vancouver City outside workers are endorsing Louie.

Georgia Straight's Charlie Smith has just written a story praising Raymond Louie's “slow-but-steady” strategy.

Check out the list of endorsers at

I have been a supporter of Raymond since he first announced his campaign to the public for a Vancouver Sun article on
City Councilor Raymond Louie officially declares his quest to be Vancouver mayor

The list of reasons to vote for Raymond have also grown as he has set his views on many issues.
This include:
opposition to shifting taxes from small businesses to residences
opposition to contracting out for city services
support for a pedestrian/bicycle bridge under the Burrard St. Bridge

Here are some of the news releases from Raymond Louie's webpage.

And here are some of my personal reasons to support Raymond Louie.

Todd Wong supports Raymond Louie's campaign to be Vancouver Mayor

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team nominated for 2008 Hon. David Lam Multicultural Award for Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

Want a Multicultural dragon boat team? 
Go with Gung Haggis Fat Choy team!

The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team takes to the stage to receive a very special non-paddling award – the Hon. David Lam Award for multiculturalism.

Every year at Vancouver's biggest and oldest Dragon Boat Festival, teams are invited to submit letters why they should be worthy of the special awards of the Rio Tinto Dragon Boat Festival.  In 2005, the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team won the Hon. David Lam Award.  Here is the description:

David C. Lam Award
1995, the David C. Lam Award was introduced in honour of the Festival’s
founding father, Dr. David C. Lam. This prestigious and beautiful
award, carved from BC jade, is given to the team which best exemplifies
the multicultural spirit of the dragon boat festival. This spirit
manifests itself in many forms and as such, is up to each team to
interpret their contribution to the community. To apply, send a written
submission to the Race Registrar, 
indicating why your team should win. Submissions must be received by June 8, 2008.

Here is Gung Haggis steersperson and Co-Coach Bob Brinson admiring the BC Jade trophy.

Here is our letter:

Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

Re: David Lam Multicultural Award

Global TV News highlighted what makes BC world class, they came to Gung
Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team to represent Vancouver’s
multicultural diversity.  On February 26 2008, Reporter Elaine Yong
explained that Dragon boating is part of a 1000 year tradition from
China, and our team blends together Scottish history and culture as
well as Chinese and Canadian. She stated “the Gung Haggis Fat Choy team
is in training for the 20th Vancouver dragon boat Festival, now North
America's largest, and one of the biggest outside Hong Kong.”

Vancouver’s Celtic Fest started up their first St. Patrick’s Day Parade
in 2004, they asked Gung Haggis Fat Choy to participate.  For 3 years
in a row, we put a dragon boat into the parade as a float entry.  But
for this year’s March 16th parade, we brought in Chinese lion masks and
a 20 foot parade dragon was carried by 5 paddlers wearing kilts.  We
didn’t have a dragon boat, but 2 paddlers sat on a car, and “paddled”
it during the parade.

the Vancouver Sun wanted to know about Tartan Day, celebrating Canada’s
Scottish heritage – they sent a photographer to our monthly Kilts Night
event.  Some of our paddlers  were featured in a March 18 Vancouver Sun
article about Tartan Day.  And on April 6th City Councilor Raymond
Louie read the City of Vancouver Tartan Day proclamation, while a City
TV cameraman filmed everything for Breakfast Television, including us
loading into a dragon boat and unfurling a Scottish Flag for our
special but usual Sunday practice.

We believe that multiculturalism is about our
community, our paddlers and our combined heritage and cultures.  We
express it by sharing our cultures openly with each other and for each
other.  Every Tuesday we go to a different Asian restaurant following
practice.  And we also don kilts for the monthly Kilts Night event at
Doolin’s Irish Pub.  Our most recent event featured two different belly
dancers – one Celtic and one Iraqi – but both are paddlers on our
team.  We LOVE our team’s ability to express cultural diversity
wherever it goes!

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team also
actively helps spread the word globally, that multiculturalism is alive
and well in Vancouver.  In December 2007, we were featured in a ZDF TV
(German public television) shown all across Europe.  And  throughout
July and August 2007, we were also shown across Canada in the CBC
Newsworld documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy.

In many media interviews, we
state not only how we share our many hereditary cultures through dragon
boating, but participate in many events that take it to the next step
–  being intercultural!
Last year, we named James Erlandsen as our
honourary drummer.  James is Eurasian and in need of a matching bone
marrow donor for a successful battle against leukemia.  Being Eurasian
or Hapa (mixed race) is part of the challenge of growing up
multicultural in Canada.  We have 3 inter-racial couples on our boat,
and 3 Eurasian paddlers.

In January we welcomed over 420
people to our famous 10th annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns
Chinese New Year dinner, held in Vancouver Chinatown.  It is a
fundraiser for our team that we share with the Joy Kogawa House Society
and the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop. Our dinners are legendary and
regularly attract lots of media attention as well as community leaders
and politicians, who dine on deep-fried haggis won-ton, and sing “When
Asian Eyes Are Smiling.”

consider the Gung Haggis Fat Choy to be the 2008 recipient for the Hon.
David C. Lam Award, – not only for all the continual multicultural
ambassadorship this team has done in our community but also around the
world through the media.
Todd Wong,
Coach and Founder of Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Gung Haggis team race results from June 8th Rio Tinto dragon boat regatta

The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team raced hard on Sunday, May 8th.

It was the first time we had our Alcan roster in a regatta, as steersperson Rory Dunn has now been able to join us on the water.  We have also moved paddler Keng Graal to the drummer's seat, to add more muscle to the boat.  Keng is an experienced drummer from her first team the CC Riders at Columbia College where she teachers, but for the past few years she has paddled with us.

to our Alcan roster for improving with each race.  We came 2nd by a
fraction to Banana Fusion in our second race.  But in our third race,
we came in third.

These were much better races than we had out
at Lotus on May 17th.  Paddlers were much more focussed.  The
atmosphere was more intense with 25 teams instead of 17.  The Sunday PM
results are also listed on;topicseen#new

D Final
Moscrop Mighty Fish – 2:42.04
Flying Colts – 2:53.59
Super Strokin' Dragonflies –

Surgin Sturgeons – 2:58.12
Hardy Herons – 3:17.03
Edgewater Casino    – DNF

C Final
VT Conquest – 2:39.73
Banana Fusion – 2:40.08
Gung Haggis Fat Choy – 2:47.41
Raging Rebels – 2:49.08
Killarney Cougar Dragons – 2:49.24
Richmond Centre Dragoneers – 2:56.60

B Final
Kitsilano Water Demons – 2:40.45
STM Knights – 2:40.48
CBC Wave Catchers – 2:43.89
FCRCC Grandragons – 2:45.35
Draggin' Riders – 2:46.15
Team Momentum – 2:51.56
Mission VT – 2:53.21

A Final
Laoyam Eagles – 2:17.36
Rice Rockets – 2:24.28
Eric Hamber Eternal Dragon – 2:26.87
Legacy – 2:31.87
TD Lightning – 2:35.53
Strathcona Youth Dragons – 2:36.52

you compare these times to Saturday PM times… you may have to adjust
for a head wind.  Gemini boat times are usually about 5 seconds slower
than a BuK or 6-16 boat.

We had really good feedback from steersperson Rory, paddlers Don, Richard and captain Stephen M.

starts were NOT explosive, as we were often left behind and succeeded
by playing catch-up.  We usually did not hit our groove until the half
way point, and gained ground with a good long reach.

Lots of improvements with each race – but still lots to work on too!
We will work on starts and transitions for Tuesday night.

I hope to see ALL paddlers for Tuesday night practice
6pm @ Dragon Zone

especially if you want to paddle during the July and August races…
we are building our foundations now… and we don't want you to miss out.
We can run TWO boats for TUESDAY.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team hosts Kilts Night party at Doolin's Irish Pub

“It's a Chinese-Scottish dragon boat team in an Irish pub with Middle Easter belly dancing!” said veteran paddler Steve Behan, new to the Gung Haggis dragon boat team.

Many Gung Haggis dragon boat team paddlers are regulars at Kilts Night at Doolin's Pub.  But June 5th was special, as we combined the event with a Pub Night dinner fundraiser.   The  $10 Burger + Beer combo was really an excuse to create a social bonding event for the team, as well as to make some money for the team.  It was a really fun evening, that also highlighted the cultural diversity that this team celebrates.  Not only are the Chinese and Scottish traditions highlighted in the team name, but kilts are really highlighted in a fun, yet fashionable way.

And… Middle Eastern belly dancing became a featured event, from our 1st year paddlers Joy and Lena.  They are both strong paddlers, not to mention fun and very likeable.  We are very glad that they chose our team to join this year.

Every body had fun, as paddlers mingled with supporters and friends. Bagpiper friend Allan McMordie came to join us… I think he is becoming addicted to Gung Haggis Fat Choy since he was featured earlier this year in the Vancouver Sun Tartan Day article and he came to Vancouver City Hall to play for a Tartan Day recognition event with the Mayor.  We even had out of town supporters as Jonas's parents from Toronto were in town.

Photo Library - 2699
Paddlers Joy and Lena in their belly dancing outfits pose with Dooin's bartender Lindsey and manager Ori.  Joy has celtic heritage and Lena was born in Iraq – photo Todd Wong

Photo Library - 2697

Free Gin Martinis, were tasted by the team, courtesy of Vanessa and Van Gough Gin… must remember to invite them to our next fundraiser party.

Forrest & Leanne

Stephen and Leanne wear our “team tartan” – the Fraser Hunting tartan. photo Deb Martin

Photo Library - 2702

Gung Haggis coach and clan chieftain Todd bar-hopped with bartender Lindsey – photo Deb Martin

Here are some pictures:

Gung Haggis June 08 Kilts Night

Gung Haggis June 08 Kilts Night

Guelph Mercury: Joy Kogawa's new children's book recognized across Canada

Joy Kogawa's new children's book “Naomi's Tree” is reviewed by Guelph Mercury

I am very happy that our saving of Joy Kogawa's childhood home is having a positive effect not only for Joy Kogawa and the The Land Conservancy of BC, which bought the house – but also for community organizations using the house, and for children's literature. 

Check out Joy Kogawa's childhood home in Vancouver BC @ 1450 West 64th Ave.
or check our blog:

May 31, 2008

Naomi's Tree

by Joy Kogawa, illustrated by Ruth Ohi (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, $19.95 hardcover)

There's a cherry tree in Naomi's backyard that came to Canada as a seed in the sleeve of her Japanese grandmother's kimono.

the “Friendship Tree,” it offers Naomi shade for tea parties with her
dolls. It also rains down showers of pink petals in the spring and
provides tasty fruit in late summer.

But when the Second World
War breaks out and Japanese Canadians are interred in camps, Naomi must
leave her home and beloved tree behind.

This book, marking 80
years of Canada-Japan relations, is based on author Joy Kogawa's own
life. Years later, she returned home to find the cherry tree was still
alive, ailing but still welcoming.

Visitors to Vancouver can see
Friendship Trees at Vancouver City Hall — and visit Historic Joy
Kogawa House, now a writers' residence.

Dragon boat techniques: top teams at May 25 FC Women's regatta

Dragon boat techniques: Here are pictures of the top teams at May 25th False Creek Women's Regatta.

top two women's teams year after year are False Creek Women and Wasabi Team Huge.  FC
Women have medaled at every World Championships since 1995…and a gold
medal at some race every year back to 1988.  Team Huge at the 2001
& 2003 Worlds + 2004 World Club Crew in South Africa.

year I steered for Team Huge in Victoria.  I have also steered for them
in Kent WA in 2003, and 2002 in Deep Cove.  I have also steered for FC
Women for 2 practices – just before they went to Worlds in 2001.  They
both have great coaches, Kim Ketcham for Wasabi and Andrea Dillong for FC Women.  I am honoured for their trust to have
assisted these teams.

how deep the Wasabi Team Huge paddles are… (green stripes lane 3)  
My friend Suzi is in seat 9 right side.  Her boyfriend Mike is
steering.  False Creek (lane 2) is in recovery stage – top hands high
as they punch their body forward in rotation.

is False Creek Women in the midst of their “entry”.  They haven't
started the “catch” or the “pull” yet.  Note the reach of seats 1 &
2 with extended bottom arms. Note the high top arms outside the boat
and the “positive” angle of the paddles.

Women have just finished their exit and are bringing their top arms up
now… see how hight they bring their top hands in the very top photo. 
Meanwhile Team Huge is just about to “catch” as they “bury” their
paddles.  Seat  1 is ready to “pull” but seat 2 & 6 are just out of
time still getting their paddles in the water.

Note the
rotation of the bodies.  FC is just starting the rotation, while Huge
has fully extended with their backs facing the outside.

FC is 8 seats ahead at the finish :

1. 2:04.59 False Creek Women
2. 2:06.57 Team Huge

= 1.98 seconds.

exits in perfect sync – paddles come out of the water… led by the top
hand – which is still OUTSIDE the boat – or at least over the gunwale. 
Look how close the paddle blades are still to the boat.

They are NOT dropping the top hand inside the boat, nor flaring the paddle blade outwards.