Monthly Archives: July 2008

Coliform Count warning in False Creek East Basin… but we paddle anyways on Sunday

Gung Haggis dragon boat team braved the high coliform count in False Creek East Basin and paddled anyways.

Today's dragon boat practice was different.  There was an nervous tension about paddling on the water this weekend.

The beaches are closed when the coliform bacteria count is 200 per 100mls of water.  The coliform bacteria count for False Creek East basin hit 2900 for 100 mls of water.  This is insanely high.  According to the June 30th report, the count for Sunset Beach was 118, Kitsilano Beach 59 and Locarno was 25. 2900 is extreme!  Apparently, the central and western basins of False Creek hit coliform counts of
500 and 300 respectively. 

Last Wednesday evening, we saw people swimming in the water off
the houseboats at Granville Island.  Personally, I wouldn't swim in
False Creek.  The water is pretty stagnant especially in the East Basin.

The Vancouver Coastal Heath Authority posted a warning:


Due to elevated coliform
counts in the East Basin of False Creek, the Medical Health Officer is
advising recreational users of this water body to refrain from doing so
until further notice.  Kayakers, rowers, dragon-boaters and other users
of East False Creek (east of Cambie Bridge) are encouraged to utilize
the Central and West basins of False Creek.   

If users insist
on using the East Basin, they should take extra precautions to prevent
ingestion (swallowing) or inhalation of water droplets, or submersion
into False Creek water.  Should an accidental exposure occur, shower
off with clean water and wash hands thoroughly after leaving the boat
or water.

The sources of the accidental sewage contamination
have been discovered and rectified as of 4:00 p.m. Friday, July 4th 
 We expect to see improving results as early as next week and will lift
the advisory as soon as the coliform counts return to acceptable
levels.  Visit for updates on July 7th.

The Vancouver Sun and other media have been posting stories about the high coliform bacteria count in the East Basin of False Creek.

False Creek coliform count soars

5 Jul 2008
The online source for Vancouver news, business, sports, entertainment,
classified ads, horoscopes, weather, local news and more. – 71k – 

Coliform warning for False Creek

4 Jul 2008 offers unique and exclusive information on news and
entertainment, Full episodes for select priority programs including – 46k –

False Creek sewage leak may take several days to clear up

6 Jul 2008 … Municipal engineers have found the source of contamination that has spiked coliformFalse Creek, but it may be several –

There was a Water Safety notice posted on the Clubhouse + the dock entrance. 
The warning was for recreational activity in the EAST BASIN – East of Cambie Bridge.  West and Central Basin were fine.

Dragon Zone sent out a warning to dragon boat members that “if you do still choose to practice please exercise caution. Avoid
splashing. Wear sunglasses or other protective eyewear to avoid water
coming in contact with your eyes. Wash all exposed skin immediately
after paddling.”

Some people didn't want to do go out on the water… But we all discussed the coliform issue.

We had an ex-Van City engineering dept guy who didn't paddle… but a recently retired GVRD Annacis Island Sewage Plant Manager and a son of retired chief medical officer who did.  We expected these veteran paddlers to know what the numbers really meant. 

We discussed the water situation for 10 minutes.  We recognized that the water situation has had coliform count warnings
in past years, and that this was different because it appeared that 3
sewage pipes were involved.  But we figured that as long as the water stayed out of the boat, out of our eyes and mouths… and we stayed out of the water – we would be fine.

The water did seem cleaner and clearer than when red tide was active, but this is NOT an indicator of coliform account. 

We did a 45 minute session on mental training (eg. imagery, cue words, positive thinking, mental preparation, team cohesion).

We then went for a 70 minute session of paddling to Burrard Bridge and back.

6 paddlers chose not to paddle.
12 paddlers chose to paddle – including 2 first timers, 1 second timer,  1 6th timer.
other paddlers chose to take the Sunday off…

We minimized splashing in the East Basin, and focused on long slow
distance paddling.  Coliform count is expected to diminish early next

We all went for gelato after practice at Mario's Gelato.  I brought out my Wet Wipes from my car, and passed them around for everybody.

Cheers, Todd

Did you know that Simon Fraser was American? 200 years ago he reached the mouth of the Fraser River

It's the 200th Anniversary of Simon Fraser's reaching the mouth of the Fraser River.

200 years ago, there where no white settlers in Vancouver's Lower Mainland.  Captain Cook met Chief Maquinna at Nootka in 1778.  And in 1792, Captain Vancouver met the Spanish Commissioner Quadra in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Alexander Mackenzie was the first to travel overland across Canada, reaching the mouth of the Mackenzie River in 1793, missing meeting Captain Vancouver by six weeks according to local Bella Bella First Nations people.

It wasn't until 1808, that Simon Fraser undertook an exploration for the North West Company to explore the area south of Mackenzie's journeys.  Fraser had been an apprentice at age sixteen with the North West Company then later became a clerk for the company at Athabasca.

“Simon Fraser was born to Loyalist parents who fled to Canada after the American Revolution.” is what I routinely told tourists at Simon Fraser University, where I worked as a tour guide in the early 1990's.  It was at SFU, where I first wore a kilt when tour guides were asked to help out with the annual Robbie Burns Day ceremonies at SFU.  It's a strange tradition, because it's all adopted because of Fraser's parent's Scottish heritage.  Simon Fraser the explorer never ever set foot in Scotland.  But the university, which began in 1967, adopted the Fraser clan shield and even it's motto “Je suis pret” which is French for “I am ready.”  Supposedly, the Frasers came to Scotland originally from France, with the name “Frasier” which means “strawberry.”  This would explain why there are strawberries on both the Fraser Clan and SFU shields.

The Ancient Fraser Hunting tartan, or Fraser of Lovat tartan was the first kilt I ever wore.

We have adopted the modern Fraser hunting tartan for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team, and we will celebrate tonight for Kilts Night, at Doolin's Irish Pub in downtown Vancouver.  Wear a kilt on the 1st Thursday of each month, and receive a pint of Guinness beer.

We will raise a toast to Simon Fraser, the explorer, tonight!

Vancouver Sun's Stephen Hum has written some very informative articles about Fraser's voyage.

An amazing feat
Vancouver Sun,  Canada – 2 Jul 2008
Two hundred years ago today, at about 3:30 pm, a large dugout canoe carrying the explorer Simon Fraser, Jules Quesnel, John Stuart and 19 other hardy men

Celebrations remind us that Canada is bound by ties greater than
Vancouver Sun,  Canada – 28 Jun 2008
July 2 marks the 200th anniversary of Simon Fraser's arrival in 1808 at what's now Vancouver during an astonishing journey of exploration down the

Globe & Mail creates new Canadian literary canon that includes Joy Kogawa's Obasan and SKY Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe,

Joy Kogawa, Michael Ondaatje are considered part of a new Canadian literary canon

Reading the Globe  Mail on Canada Day morning should be a tradition.  

Except for all the other FREE Canada Day activities and events that are happening out there, and you have to get out early to beat the crowds or to find parking.

Canadians are proud of their authors, it helps us define who we are, as well as our history and our psyche.  It also adds “Canadian content” to our newspapers and media stories.

The Globe and Mail's John Adams explains that “Thirty years ago dozens of scholars, critics, authors and publishing
types gathered for four days in Calgary for what was billed as the
National Conference on the Canadian Novel…. We enlisted a panel of five – three women, two men, from across the
country, all well-read in Canadian literature and deeply knowledgeable
of its history. Each was asked to come up with his or her own Top 10
annotated list of Canadian English-language fiction titles.”

Upon reading the list of authors and titles, the first thing that struck me was the inclusion of authors of ethnic diversity.  30 years ago we didn't really have authors of colour considered as important for Canadian fiction.  Joy Kogawa's Obasan came out in 1981, and really lead the way for the acceptance of Asian-Canadian literature.  Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion, came out in 1987.  I was surprised by the inclusion of SKY Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe (1990), because Wayson Choy's The Jade Peony (1995) is usually cited and lauded but it was missing on these lists.  But for me, I couldn't put Disappearing Moon Cafe down, once I had started.  It took me several starts to get into The Jade Peony, and it wasn't until I was on the Vancouver Public Library's inaugural One Book One Vancouver committee that had chosen The Jade Peony as it's inaugural choice, that I actually finished reading it.

Check out the list:

Taking a shot at a new canon

Of particular interest

The Disappearing Moon Café (1990)

Sky Lee

This novel about four generations of a Chinese family in Vancouver is an amazing evocation of Sophocles-like angst and sturm und drang.

Obasan (1981) is selected twice

Joy Kogawa

This novel broaches the difficult topic of the internment of
Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. My students were
profoundly moved by the way the lyrical prose personalized the
political agenda.

Anne of Green Gables (1908) is selected 3 times

Lucy Maud Montgomery

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept (1945) is selected 3 times

Elizabeth Smart

The Stone Angel (1964) is selected 3 times

Margaret Laurence

Lives of Girls and Women: A Novel (1971) is selected 3 times

Alice Munro

Readers have long argued whether this is a novel or a collection of
short stories. Whatever it is, it's an uncanny portrait of the artist
as a young Souwesto girl.

Beautiful Losers (1966) is selected twice

Leonard Cohen

Margaret Atwood is named twice but for different books

Michael Ondaatje is named twice for different books.

Canada Day 2008: Fireworks from Lion's Gate Bridge + Chinatown Celebrations

Canada Day is winding down.  I saw simultaneously watched fireworks at Vancouver's Coal Harbour, and West Vancouver's Ambleside Park.  Okay… it's tough to do while driving South across Lion's Gate Bridge, and alternating looking left to Coal Harbour, and right to Ambleside.

There were a few people standing on the bridge on either side watching the fireworks.  Lucky people.  Not so lucky were the crowds of people walking North on Denman St. towards Coal Harbour.  I guess they had been sitting at English Bay waiting for fireworks there, before realizing that fireworks were over at Coal Harbour.  Same for the hordes of people I saw walking away from Vanier Park and Kitsilano Beach, as I drove West on Cornwall Ave.

Still, it was a nice close to a busy Canada Day that had started in Kitsilano with Canada Day Eve.  My friends Leanne, Judy and myself had watched the twilight settle over English Bay.  Canada Day morning, Judy was off to Canada Place to help staff a display booth for the Chinese Canadian Military Museum with Lt. Col. Howe Lee. 

I attended the 3rd annual Head Tax Protest Walk organized by the Head Tax Families Society, as well as the traditional Canada Day celebrations at Chinese Cultural Centre courtyard, organized by the Chinese Benevolent Association.  I had previously planned to also visit Canada Place and the North Vancouver Canada Day celebrations at Waterfront Park, but had to pass because I had to attend a wedding reception for my friends Gloria and Mark in the afternoon.

Leanne, was able to visit Canada Place, and made it back to Chinese Cultural Centre to see the Lion Dance in the courtyard join us all for lunch at New Town bakery, after the Head Tax Protest march through Chinatown…. 

More later….

Hapa Canada Day Eve!

Canada Day Eve is one of the greatest celebration events not celebrated…

Hapa-Canadian “Standing on Guard for Thee”! original drawing by Jeff Chiba Stearns

Why don't we have a midnight countdown to celebrate our country's birthday?  Okay, there are fireworks celebrations at the end of Canada Day, but everybody has to go to work the next morning.  Aren't holidays better celebrated when you can stay up late the night before, then sleep in?

Last night, I met up with two friends, Leanne Riding and Judy Maxwell.  When I introduced them, it took only a few minutes before one of them said “Are you hapa?”

And this was in a darkened room!

If people think that “Canadian Identity”is a conundrum, try to define being Hapa.  It's a Hawaiian term that is now more commonly used to define mixed race Asian-Canadians and Asian-Americans.

My friend John Endo Greenaway writes this:

“Some people don’t like the term hapa, given its somewhat
derogatory roots, but many mixed Asian-Canadians/Amercians have
embraced it, although it has yet to enter the mainstream vocabulary.
But whatever term you want to use, hapas are here to stay. With a 90% intermarriage rate (give or take) Japanese Canadians are producing hapa children at a prodigious rate. Attend a Japanese Canadian gathering or event and chances are you’ll see hapa everywhere, ranging in age from infants to mid-thirties.”

So…. back to Canada Day Eve….

With my two Hapa friends, we start talking about our “Hapa radars”, that intuitive sense that immediately lets us know when we think that somebody we've never met before is Hapa.  We talk about the reactions that people have to them, when people realize they are neither Asian nor Caucasian, but both.  We talk about the first time when I realized they were Hapa.

We go down to Kitsilano Beach, finding a secluded spot, watch dusk settle in because we just missed the sunset after 10pm.  We talk more about Hapa-ness… the beingness of Hapa, about our Hapa friends, our Hapa cousins, Hapa nieces and nephews.

We talk about Hapa friends like Jeff Chiba Stearns who is an animator, and created the Hapa short animation film “What Are You Anyways?” We talk about Brandy Lien-Worrall who is the editor of “All Mixed Up“an anthology chap book of Hapa poetry.

Maxwell and Riding… two very un-Asian sounding names.  But they
chatted on about how easy they can be mistaken for Asian or Caucasians
in different settings.  Both are very active in the Asian-Canadian
community.  Judy is presently a researcher for the Chinese Canadian
Military Museum, and has done many academic and conference
presentations because of her research on the Chinese disaspora and
migration patterns.  Leanne has been studying Asian-Canadian history
and is now active as co-president of Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop
and the Asian Canadian Organization, which started as a student
initiated project at UBC.

But both have family histories that
are rooted in the racial turmoils of our country.  Judy's
great-grandfather was a Member of Parliament that had pushed for the
Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act, while Leanne's grandparents and great-grandparents had been interned during WW2 because they were of Japanese

They name me a “Honourary Hapa,” because of the community building work I do such as Gung Haggis Fat Choy, which they both totally love, and attended earlier this year, back in January.  They both made fun of me, because I couldn't initially remember where they were sitting in the room of 430 people, even though one of the them was sitting at the head table with me along with the Vancouver.

And then it dawns on me.  Being Canadian is being Hapa… and being Hapa is being Canadian.  Canada celebrates it's cultural diversity, and nowhere is that diversity better celebrated than in the mixed race DNA enhanced ethnicities of it's peoples… even better if it all rolled up in one.

With BC celebrating it's 150th Anniversary this year in 2008, we are reminded that Simon Fraser came down the “Fraser River” with a crew of Metis (French-First Nations mix), and BC's first Governor James Douglas was born in the Caribbean nation of Guyana of mixed Scottish and Creole bloodlines.  BC's history is Hapa…. and most people don't even realize it.

So… sitting on English Bay… (Somewhere there must be an original First Nations Name that can be chosen as a “rename”) we toasted to Canada's birthday eve, and our Hapa-ness.  And in our lively and wonderful conversations (which later moved to a Kitsilano area apartment), we had so much fun, we forgot to do a countdown to midnight until it was long past.

Here are some Hapa websites:

The Hapa Project

Eurasian Nation

MAVIN Foundation

Meditating Bunny
Home page of Jeff Chiba Stearns, whose short animated film What Are You Anyways? deals with growing up hapa.

“For, by and about Half Japanese”

Geist Magazine celebrates Canada Day

Geist Magazine sent me a Canada Day Greeting via e-mail.

They have pulled all sorts of Canadiana type articles from their back catalogue.  In typical Canadian style, much of the humour is self-deprecating.  Is this how we define ourselves as Canadians?  At least we have a sense of humour… is how we can always be grateful that we are not Americans.  Waitaminit… Aren't most of the great American comics really Canadian?  Jim Carey, Dan Akroyd, William Shatner,

Here's a few of the highlights from GEIST: