Monthly Archives: August 2008

GEIST Magazine sponsoring “A Talk” by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas on Aug 27

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas will give a talk for GEIST magazine at SFU Harbour Centre Aug 27.

Michael is very intercultural cool.  He is the creator of Haida manga.  He is the creator of “Pedal to the Meddle” – a Pontiac Firefly painted with argillite dust.  Last year he had a tail gate party reception for his opening of “Meddling in the Museum” at the UBC Museum of Anthropology.






Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas  on art, memory and the power of small.

At SFU Harbour Centre
Fletcher Challenge Theatre

Wednesday, August 27, 2008
7 pm

Admission is free
; reservations are required. Please e-mail or call 778.782.5100.



Click here to watch an animated version of Yahgulanaas’ book, Flight of the Hummingbird.

Click here to find out about other Memory Festival events.

In Coca Cola's world: Mandarin=Chinese but in the real world, not all Chinese are Mandarin

Marketing Coca-Cola through the Olympics will lead to linguistic un-happiness

Here's a picture and commentary from my friend Patrick Tam.  Whenever I have traveled abroad, I have marveled at the linquistic mistakes in English by non-native English speakers, as phrases and words become “lost in translation.”  Patrick has found an example of a mislabeled language.

DSC_217047656a - Multinational corporation carelessness by FlungingPictures.– photo Patrick Tam

a multinational company like Coca-Cola to commit such an elementary
mistake shows the unwillingness to research a simple thing like the
difference between “mandarin” and “Chinese.” The difference is like
“hear” and “listen”, “see” and “watch.” “Lighten up” is not to set
something on fire.


The correct usage is, of course, “Chinese.”

All Chinese people who can read the same written language, irrespective of what dialect s/he speaks, understands what those four characters say. 
OTOH, Mandarin is a spoken dialect.


Until Coca-Cola make speaking cans, they would be correct. But till then, whomever Coca-Cola consulted on this should be fired.

Simon Fraser University Pipe Band wins 2008 Gold at World's Championships in Scotland

Ron MacLeod is former Chair of the SFU Scottish Studies program.  He sends out regular reports about Scottish-Canadian culture and news in the Vancouver area.  Simon Fraser University Pipe Band first won the world Grade 1 title on
Glasgow Green back in 1995. The band repeated in 1996, 1999, 2001, and now for 2008.

– photo from

Greetings, GREAT NEWS! Simon Fraser University Pipe Band won
the 2008 Gold at the World’s Championships at Glasgow Green, Scotland, Saturday August 16.

The order of finish was as follows:

1st Simon Fraser University

2nd Field Marshal Montgomery

3rd Shotts and Dykehead

4th Boghall and Bathgate

5th St. Laurence O’Toole

Strathclyde Police

It was
also good news for the White Spot Pipe band at the Juvenile level. They came in
6th, competing against a score or more other juvenile bands.

Piping Champions for the Fifth Time

For the fifth time in 11 years the Simon Fraser Pipe
Band has won the World’s Piping Championship. On Saturday, August 16th,
2008 the Band competed against the world’s best Pipe Bands at Glasgow,
Scotland, and came away the winner.

Pipe Major Terry Lee and his brother Pipe Sergeant
Jack Lee  founded the Band with
Simon Fraser University as their primary sponsor. They proudly wear the ancient
Clan Fraser Tartan. Lead Drummer Reid Maxwell later joined the Band to provide
top professional direction for the drum section. In 1982, the Band began to
shine on the international stage when it won the North American Piping
Championship. In 1995, the Band won its first World Piping Championship in
Scotland. Competing and winning in Scotland against the world’s best bands
fired up the Lee brothers and the lads and lassies in the Band. They won again
in 1996, 1999, 2001 and now in 2008. In the intervening years, the Band was
always a formidable contender, for the most part earning 2nd or 3rd
place rankings. The Band is probably better known in Scotland, the
ancient home of Clan Fraser, than in Canada.

In 1998 the Band played in concert at Carnegie Hall,
New York City, to a packed house. 
They have played with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Ogden, Utah, and
put on piping and drumming seminars at Brigham Young University. They have  thrilled audiences in concert at the
Sydney Opera House, Australia. They have performed before enthusiastic
audiences in Melbourne, Australia, and Christchurch, New Zealand. They have
given recitals in 13 Canadian cities from Halifax to Victoria and in 17
American States. The Band has been one of Canada’s top goodwill ambassadors
over the past two decades.

The Simon Fraser Pipe Band is not just a single Band.
A core of 30 pipers and drummers form the nucleus of the senior Band. In all,
there are six levels of bands, ranging from raw beginners to the senior Band.
The Band’s pipers and drummers teach 150 or more children year in and year out. Their ethic is work, work,
work, learn, learn, learn. Their purpose is to refine skills and to develop the
discipline it takes to produce a harmonious band. One of the SFU Juvenile Pipe
Bands, the Robert Malcolm, has won their division in Scotland four times. 

Every two years, the Band presents a Highland Arts
Festival at Simon Fraser University. Instruction is given in piping drumming
and Highland dancing. As part of the 1988 Festival the Band piped for the
world’s largest Scottish Country dance where 256  danced their way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

In 1999, Pipe Major Terry and brother Jack Lee were each
awarded Canada’s Meritorious Service Award. Jack Lee, one of the piping world’s
great soloists,  was further
honoured in 2004 when he was among the first British Columbians to be presented
with the B.C. Community Achievement Award by Premier Campbell. This award
recognizes “those exceptional individuals whose personal contributions to the
good of their communities has the effect of enriching all of us as citizens of
this fortunate province”.

The Simon Fraser University Pipe Band is more than just
another band. It is both a community and an international role model.

The SFU Pipe Band’s website is

 An interesting video clip

Check out these links as well.

News results for sfu pipe band

BBC News
The famed Simon Fraser University Pipe Band defeated a longtime rival to win its fifth world championship in Scotland Saturday. “A great, great day,” said

Chinese Canadian, wrestler Carol Huynh, wins Canada's first gold medal in Beijing Olympics

Carol Huynh, Hazelton BC-born Chinese-Vietnamese-Canadian wins Olympic Gold, breaking Canada's medal drought

It seems ironic that while Canadian media has made much about Chinese-born Canadian athletes competing for Canada in fencing and table tennis, it was Canadian-born Carol Huynh from Hazelton BC, that wins Canada's first gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  And it was also

There also have been stories in the media, both English and Chinese language, about where loyalties lie amongst Chinese-Canadians when cheering for Olympic medals.  While it is understandable that recent immigrants will still retain emotional ties to their homeland, for born-in-Canada ethnic Chinese, there is clearly only one choice – Canada!

Huynh's father was born in China, and her her mother is Vietnamese.  It's a heart-rending story about how the family became refugees 30 years ago, and were sponsored by the United Church and were placed in Hazelton, where Huynh was born and raised.  She later attended Simon Fraser University for both academic and athletic study.

Many SFU students have been Olympic athletes, and I have been priveleged to meet some of them such as Justin Abdou, Greg Edgelow, Chris Wilson, Leah Pells, Jay Triano, and padder Kamini Jain.  I have also met coaches Mike Renney, Alison McNeil, Jay Triano, Mike Jones, Dave McKay and Dr. David Cox – my sports psychologist professor.  Carol's coach at SFU was Mike Jones, with whom I also spent some time on the SFU Wrestling team during my SFU time.  Mike is a former Canadian national wrestling coach.  Dave McKay from SFU is the present Canadian wrestling coach.

Hazelton really is proud of Carol, and even held fund-raisers to help her parents fly to China, so they could attend the Olympic Games to see their daughter compete.
Hazelton thrilled for Huynh's wrestling gold

Olympic Games

Wrestling – Profile

Simply golden

B.C. native Carol Huynh used her lightning-fast attack to win gold in Beijing

Canada's Carol Huynh poses with the gold medal she won Saturday in the women's freestyle wrestling 48-kilogram weight class. Canada's Carol Huynh poses with the gold medal she won Saturday in the women's freestyle wrestling 48-kilogram weight class. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Two months before the Beijing Games, Canada’s national team coach used the word “dangerous” to describe Carol Huynh.

Looking at the five-foot-one, 115-pound wrestler, it seemed hard to believe.

“Other coaches who know Carol, they’re scared of her as a wrestler,” Leigh Vierling said. “They really are.”

Those who saw her win Canada’s first gold medal of the Olympic Games will know why.

The 27-year-old Hazelton, B.C., native, known for her lightning-fast
attack and quickness on the mat, went at her opponent immediately in
the 48-kilogram weight class final on Saturday.

Huynh didn’t think about the fact that she was up against the
reigning and three-time world champion. She didn’t think about the fact
that Japan’s Chiharu Icho had been to the Games before, had won silver
in Athens.

Icho won almost every international event since the Athens Games,
while Huynh had only two senior championships to her credit, most
recently the 2007 Pan-American Games. Icho was the odds-on favourite to

No self-doubt

But Huynh attacked, and led from start to finish.

“I knew I wanted to go in with supreme confidence in my abilities
and not doubting myself one second,” a smiling Huynh said after the
medal ceremony Saturday. “That's what I did, and I wrestled the match
of my life, and it was awesome.”

After the referee held her arm up to indicate she had won, Huynh
buried her face in her hands and then ran over to hug her coach.
Members of the crowd passed her a Canadian flag and then Vierling
hoisted her on his shoulders and paraded her around the China
Agricultural University Gymnasium.

She wasn't the favourite, but it was clear early in the gold medal match that Huynh had the edge.

She didn’t even let Icho get on the board in the first period en
route to her 4-0, 2-1 victory. It was her fourth straight win Saturday,
a run that saw her surrender only four points, compared to the 19 she

That’s typical for Huynh when she's performing to her potential, her coach says.

“When she's wrestling her best, she is very, very quick, very tricky
to wrestle,” Vierling said. “People have a hard time getting a handle
on her. Carol is someone you can't relax on, because the second you do,
she'll pick you apart.”

Despite her abilities, Huynh's first reaction to her victories in both the semis and finals was to cover her mouth in awe.

“I'm just, I'm speechless,” she said after her semifinal win
Saturday. “I don't know what to say. I've been dreaming of this moment
for a long time and it's here. I'm just so proud to be Canadian.”

Family members watching

later she became the first Canadian woman to win Olympic gold. She did
so in front of a crowd that included her husband, her siblings and her

“I knew they were basically right in the front row there, and
knowing that in the back of my mind was such a good feeling,” said
Huynh, smiling. “This year hasn’t been all that different from training
for worlds until I came here, and seeing everybody here, I think this
is the big difference. There’s so many people here and it’s just
amazing to see such support.”

Nowhere has she felt more support than in Hazelton, where
fundraisers were held in her honour to assist with her Olympic

“I just wanted to say thank you guys so much,” she said, speaking to the people of Hazelton. “You basically raised an Olympian.”

As the Canadian anthem played for the first time at the Beijing
Games, Huynh stood on the podium singing, the gold medal around her
neck, tears in her eyes.

Then there was no wiping the smile off her face.

“This is unbelievable,” she said, looking at the crowd. “I’m having such a fabulous time. This is so cool.”

Vancouver Sun: Chinese hardship is found in half-competed railway tunnels

My friend Bill Chu is doing lots of work to build reconciliation and recognition of shared history between Chinese-Canadian and First Nations groups, as well as to recognize the importance of the BC pioneer history both groups have contributed to.

In a letter to me about the topic of Chinese-Canadian Heritage Week and the recent “150 Years in Golden Mountain” Awards Gala, Beill wrote to me stating “The measure of success of
any such major events is whether the participants treat it as entertainment or can
carry it to the next level (or whether they can even walk away seeing a next

He also reminded me that “However we need to steer away from relying on a
colonial interpretation of Chinese history and treating that as the real stuff
. “

His continued activism has resulted in two articles. 

Vancouver Sun: Half-completed tunnels tell of Chinese hardship, by Mary Frances Hill

Globe & Mail: Chinese-Canadian group wants gravesites preserved, by Jeremy Hainsworth

Half-completed tunnels tell of Chinese hardship

Unfinished railway projects raise awareness of Chinese Heritage Week

Mary Frances Hill,
Vancouver Sun

Published: Friday, August 15, 2008

– For many years, the elders of the Sto:lo Nation have whispered about
the ghosts that linger around the half-completed mountain railway
tunnels west of Hope.

The legend says unmarked graves nearby
contain the remains of Chinese men, Canadian Pacific Railway labourers
forced in the 1880s to enter the makeshift tunnels to light the
dynamite that would blast through the rock.

“When a tragic death
happens, the elders talk about the spirit staying behind,” said Sonny
McHalsie, cultural adviser at the Sto:lo Nation office. “They would say
the ghosts of Chinese workers were still there.”

Sonny McHalsie of Sto:lo Nation led railway tunnel tour.View Larger Image View Larger Image

Sonny McHalsie of Sto:lo Nation led railway tunnel tour.

Ward Perrin, Vancouver Sun

and Chinese-Canadian activist Bill Chu led a tour of the half-completed
tunnels on Thursday, hoping to raise public awareness of Chinese
history during Chinese Heritage Week.

“It's incumbent on the
Chinese community to do something,” said Chu, an organizer with
Canadians for Reconciliation, a group devoted to fostering peaceful
relationships with B.C.'s first nations people.

Chu has been
organizing events and tours to help educate B.C.'s Chinese-Canadian
people about aboriginal people and their communities.

tunnels, half-completed but abandoned after too many workers were
killed during blasting, stand six km west of Hope, on the north side of
the Fraser River.

In the 1880s, when more than 10,000 Chinese
workers came to B.C. to build the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Chinese
were used for their work ethic, but were often perceived by Caucasian
labourers as less than worthy colleagues.

If the thousands of
Chinese labourers who died didn't perish in the tunnels, they fell
victim to malnutrition, scurvy, and from lack of access to medical
treatment when they were injured or sick, Chu said.

“We're not
talking about avoidable accidents,” he said. “We're talking about
discrimination, and the attitude that the Chinese were not human

Chinese CPR labourers were not only ill-prepared for
Fraser Valley winters, their wages were far below those of Caucasian
workers — a point that placed them in direct conflict with their
colleagues and exacerbated the discrimination against them.

month's salary of $25 would have to cover a Chinese worker's debt to
the steamboat company, clothes, a room rental, tools and fares.

was in that era that the racist phrase, a “Chinaman's chance” was
coined. It referred to the possibility that a Chinese member of a
railway crew blasting tunnels for the CPR line would come out of it

” 'A Chinaman's chance' was a derogatory phrase meaning 'no luck,' ” said Chu.

area surrounding the tunnels is a physical testament to the rugged
environment the Sto:lo Nation shared with the labourers, said McHalsie,
who has worked with researchers on local first nations history from the
University of B.C., Simon Fraser University, and the University of
California at Los Angeles.

Just last week, a UCLA researcher found an antique Chinese coin sitting on the edge of a Sto:lo subterranean dwelling.

No dig was needed: the piece was found in plain sight.

Much like first nations history, the history of Chinese labourers in B.C. must be re-appropriated and rewritten, Chu said.

See video about this story at

“Toddish McWong” installed at the “Free Spirit” exhibition at Royal BC Museum

150 years of BC history, search through the historical, cultural,
athletic and social events to find 150 of the most interesting people…

Who would you invite to the Royal BC Museum for a party?

Todd Wong aka “Toddish McWong” is now an “artifact” in the Royal BC Museum display for “The Party.”

How did this happen?

Photo Library - 2899 by you.

– photo Todd Wong

Every year, the Royal BC Museum has an interactive display that
visiting tourists can have their picture taken with.  Last year it was
for their Titanic display.  This is a great place for tourists.  It
sits kitty corner to Victoria's Inner Harbour, and is on south side of
The Empress Hotel, and the East side of the BC Legislature buildings.

This year, you can stand next to some of BC's most interesting people.  All of these figures are featured in the exhibit “The Party.” 
In this picture above are some of my cultural heroes including Rick
Hansen, Chief Dan George, Emily Carr and my friend Joy Kogawa.  My
girlfrend Deb Martin is standing right behind Joy (in red).  We first
learned about “The Party” exhibit last summer, when Joy needed a full
length picture of her to give to the Royal BC Museum.  We took this
picture for Joy, and were glad she was happy.

It's part of the “Free Spirit
exhibition to celebrate the 150th birthday of British Columbia, founded
as a colony in 1858, and joined Canada in 1871 for the promise of a
coast to coast railway. 

P4230222 Joy Kogawa in “The Party” – photo by Todd Wong

Deb and I first visited the exhibit on April 23rd, earlier this year.
It was with great excitement that we went to the Royal BC Museum, and
up the escalator, searching for the picture of our friend Joy Kogawa. 
We visited with writer friend Gary Geddes and David Kogawa, Joy's good
friend and ex-husband.  Read our account of our visit here:
Todd's adventure in Victoria: Traveling to “The Party” at BC Royal

But this time we had a different reason to visit.  This time, there was
a life-size picture of me, Todd Wong aka “Toddish McWong.”

At the exhibit, they had also asked visitors for nominations to fill
the remaining spots.  I was voted in to “The Party” along with Trevor Linden, Dal Richards, Red Robinson, Ida Chong and Jennie

Deb and I arrived in Victoria after a late start on the 2pm ferry sailing from Tsawwassen
We checked into The Empress Hotel, because we were also attending an
evening event there to celebrate “150 Years in Golden Mountain”, an
awards and dinner gala to celebrate 150 years of Chinese Canadian
history and achievement in Canada, BC and Victoria.  See my account of
the evening here:
Victoria celebrates 150 years of Chinese Canadian History with a grand dinner and awards.

We walked over to the Royal BC Museum, enjoying the lovely sea breeze and the sunshine.  The Empress Hotel, now known as the “Fairmont Empress” was designed 100 years ago by BC architect Frances Rattenbury, who also designed the BC Legislature buildings.

Photo Library - 2905 by you.
Todd stands in front of a modest Kim Campbell – the first female
Canadian Prime Minister and slightly behind Chee-ah-thluc, Chief of the
Songhess people from the 1840's to 1864, aka “King Freezy” (because of
his frizzled hair). – photo Deb Martin

There are video stations containing silouettes of each figure in the
display.  You click on one of the figures, and a short biography pops
up on screen.  This is the display for Todd Wong:

Photo Library - 2909 by you. – photo Deb Martin

This is the video display of the “Todd Wong bio.” The original photograph was taken by my friend Richard Montagna.  Richard specializes in fine art, commercial,  portrait, action, and landscape photography.

It reads: 

Voted in by the visiting public, this person is seen as an important figure in BC history!

Todd Wong (1980- )
about intercultural adventures, “Toddish McWong” founded Gung Haggis
Fat Choy, a Robert Burns / Chinese New Year event that has been
celebrating with an annual dinner since 1997.

No – Todd wasn't born in
1980.  That would have made him only 13 years old when he first invited
the phrase “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” while wearing his first kilt for a
Robbie Burns celebration at Simon Fraser University.  Sometimes museums
make typo mistakes too.

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My girlfriend's favorite character in the display (besides me) is the Vancouver Island Marmot – photo Deb Martin

“Asian” Odd Couple comes to Vancouver's Roundhouse: VACT gives Asian twist to classic Neil Simon play

It's the Asianification of Neil Simon's Odd Couple.  Felix is now a  neat freak traditional new immigrant and Oscar is a messy multigenerational.

VACT's “The Odd Couple” with Jimmy Yi (center) as “Felix”, Ron Yamauchi as “Oscar”, Carmine Bernhardt as “Gwendolyn Pigeon” and Lissa Neptuno as “Cecily Pigeon” – photo by Ray Shum, courtesy of VACT.

Roundhouse Performance Centre
Pacific Blvd & Davie (Yaletown), Vancouver
August 13 through 21
All evening performances at 8:00PM, matinees at 2:00PM
Tuesdays to Saturdays (evenings) + Sundays (matinees)

Ticket prices
$23 in advance online at
$25 by phone reservation (cash only, pickup at the door) – Phone 778.885.1973
$25 at the door (cash only)
Service charges are included.  Please call for Group Rates.

For more ticket information please visit

I went to see “The Odd Couple” on it's July run in Richmond, and wrote up my review for July 19, 2008: “Odd Couple – Friendship with an Asian style twist on the Neil Simon play.”

It's quite enjoyable, and it really makes you think about the possibilities for Asian actors in Vancouver.  Many of Vancouver's Asian actors get caught between the stereotyped roles offered to them in a Caucasian-centric “Western” theatre tradition, or learning Chinese and traveling to Hong Kong, Taiwan or China where they can move beyond the limited stereotyped roles.  Few Asian actors are able to blend into mainstream film and television like Kristen Kreuk or Meg Tilly, merely because they look “too Asian.”

VACT producer Joyce Lam says.
“This production appeals to our core audience of first generation
and “Generation 2.0″ young acculturated Asian Canadians, but we think
we'll also attract recent immigrant Chinese especially those living in
Richmond, plus older Asian Canadians and parents especially those who
are familiar with the works of Neil Simon, and then finally every one
else who aren't Asian Canadian but are looking for a unique and
entertaining cross-cultural experience.”

The Province: “The much odder Odd Couple”

The Province's Lynn Mitges reports on the upcoming VACT production, The Odd Couple. Read the article here. (PDF format)

24 Hours Vancouver: “The Odd Couple courts a crowd”

24 Hours' Graeme McRanor reports on the upcoming VACT production, The Odd Couple. Read the article here. (PDF format)

24 Hours Vancouver: “Un-stuck for words”

24 Hours' Graeme McRanor reports on VACT's, The Odd Couple, being produced with Chinese subtitles. Read the article here. (PDF format)

Tricia Collins' play Gravity is playing in Vancouver one more time, before it launches on a Carribbean tour

Gravity is a wonderful “made in Vancouver” play that is going on tour to it's roots in the Carribean.  It is playing in Vancouver on Wednesday, August 13th.

Tricia Collins in her self-written play Gravity – photo courtesy of Urban Ink

Here was my review when I first saw GRAVITY.  I LOVED IT.
Review: Gravity astounds the senses – Tricia Collins takes the audience on a journey into her past and across two oceans

Check out more information about this very interesting one woman play about how she discovers her family roots in Guyana and the family secrets which helped shape her past, and influence her future.  Tricia Collins did a fine job writing and acting.

Join the tour! – Attend the Launch Party & See The Show.
– One Night Only –
August 13th, 8pm @ Chapel Arts, 304 Dunlevy Street, Vancouver BC
Admission (at door): $10 (incl. free drink and plate of Caribbean foods)
urban ink productions: (604) 692-0885/
Also Check out our updated website: <>  

False Creek is still stinky, water warning in effect for East Basin – but dragon boat teams losing paddlers to practices

False Creek is still stinky.  Paddlers were not showing up for practices last week or the weekend, as several teams didn't have enough paddlers to go out.

Unloading the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat 5 by shamurokku.Lots of dragon boats have been sitting  idle since the second huge outpour of raw sewage through the Terminal St. outflow pipes located underneath the Science World pier.  So far there have been water warnings issued by Coastal Health for recreational boaters on Canada Day and BC Day long weekends.  Would a Labour Day sewage problem force a shut-down of the 6th annual Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race? – photo Leanne Riding

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team still had a great 10am Sunday morning practice  – but because of the confusion about 10am or 1:30pm practice on Sundays…. or because of the water warning still in effect for East Basin –  we only had 10 people show up.
Luckily/unluckily, paddlers from the Riptide team didn't have enough people for a practice (you need 10 paddlers + steers), so we invited them to come join us.
So… 12 paddlers + steers went out.  We exchanged some stories about dragon boats.  Riptide finished in Rec A at Rio Tinto Alcan, while we made it to Rec C.  They brought some good intensity and enthusiasm to the practice, especially on power pieces.
“Freight Train!” they would yell, whenever I called a power series.  We had the Riptide paddlers leading in seats 1 & 2.  They set a good pace, and displayed good technique.  “Rotate Now!” and you could feel the boat surge forward.
Our paddlers took up the challenge, as I steered and called “Power Now!” 
Our paddlers would call out “Hah!” and count out “2, 4, 6, 8, 10” during the power stroke.
We paddled easily past Cambie Street Bridge for a brief rest, then onto David Lam Park, as we did some pyramid pieces, starting at 60% effort, then going 80% and 100% – always focussing on technique.
On the way back we did some 4 person seat pulls, and some race pieces.  It was a good work out, and the Riptide paddlers thanked us for inviting them to join us, especially since they are training for the Taiwanese Races.
It's always nice to make new dragon boat friends.  This will be the 2nd time Riptide has entered the Vancouver Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race, which I helped to found in 2003.  I gave them some advice about paddling techniques to help make the boats go faster, and they were grateful.
The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team needs to firm up our roster for the Taiwanese dragon Boat Race on August 30/31 – Labour Day weekend.
If you want to race Taiwanese – please email me and Ernest Wu

Victoria celebrates 150 years of Chinese Canadian History with a grand dinner and awards

Chinese Canadian achievements feted at Victoria's Empress Hotel, attended by Hon. Norman Kwong, Sen. Vivienne Poy, Dr. David Lai, Dr. Wallace Chung and many others.

Photo Library - 2932 by you.

Hon. Norman Kwong, Lt. Gov. of Alberta, addressing the 150 Years in Golden Mountain dinner audience – photo Todd Wong

It was a night to recognize achievements in Chinese Canadian history, and it was best summed up by the Hon. Lt. Gov. of Alberta Norman Kwong.  He told a story about how challenging it was being the first Chinese in the Canadian Football League, and how the Calgary Stampeders had given up on him. 

“Don't ever give up,” he told the audience.  The he proudly showed his Stanley Cup ring and mentioned his four Grey Cup victories, “And I'm Chinese!” he said.

Photo Library - 2951
Obee and Lucinda Chodan, Editor and Editor in Chief of the Vicotoria
Times Colonist stand with Todd Wong, Victor Wong and Daniel Lee,
holding up copies of the 12 page insert titled Chinatown that
celebrated 150 years of Chinese Canadian Chinatown history – photo Deb

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Archival picture displays of Chinese Canadian history greeted the audience for the “150 Years in Golden Mountain” gala event – photo Todd Wong

The evening had began with a reception in the Palm Court of the Empress Hotel.  There were picture displays, music, food and mingling.  I was finally able to meet Amanada Mills, the chair of the Victoria Chinese Commerce Association, who I had communicated with for months, as well as Sinclair Mar, the chair of the 150 Years in Golden Mountain Celebrations Committee.  And I also finally got to meet Dr. David Lai, Victoria Chinatown historian, whom I have heard so much about over the years.

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Todd Wong & Sen. Vivienne Poy – photo Deb Martin.

Senator Vivienne Poy is the patron senator of Asian Heritage Month
throughout Canada, and I first met her in Ottawa when I worked for
Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society.  It's always nice to see
Vivienne, as her husband's late Aunt Cecilia had been married to my
grandmother's oldest brother Henry.

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NDP leader Carole James & Todd Wong – photo Deb Martin

I chatted with Gabriel Yiu, news commentator, and Carole James, NDP Opposition Leader.  I asked Carole about her family ancestry, and she shared with me that her father was First Nations.  I thought it would be real cool if she became Premier, because then we would have both a Premier and Lt. Gov. of First Nations heritage!  I got to know Gabriel when we were both active on the Chinese Head Tax Redress campaign.  Unfortunately Jenny Kwan couldn't attend, as she is due with her second child in one month.

Many people traveled from Vancouver to attend this event.  I bumped into Tung Chan, executive director of SUCCESS.  We remarked that this was a great event and lamented that nothing of this scope was happening in Vancouver…. yet.

It was wonderful to see Dr. Wallace Chung and Dr. Madeline Chung of Vancouver.  They have given so much to the community in Vancouver, the Chinese Cultural Centre, the Vancouver Maritime Museum and the UBC Asian Library.  They are friends of my parents, and it was Dr. Madeline who delivered me as a baby many many years ago.

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Deb Martin, Valerie Sing Turner & Todd Wong – photo Deb Martin

Actor/Writer Valerie Sing Turner was there with her family, as her father James Sing was an award winner.  I had last seen Valerie's family at the opening of her theatrical production of Malaysia Hotel, when I helped promote it through Asian Heritage Month, and also find her some sponsorship.

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Victoria councilor Charlene Thornton-Joe with Todd Wong – photo Deb Martin

Charlene Thornton-Joe came over to our table during the dinner to say hello.  It was the first time I had met this Victoria city councilor, after reading about her efforts to preserve Victoria's Chinese heritage.

It was nice to speak with MLA Ida Chong, who brought greetings from the
Government of British Columbia, as Premier Campbell was in Beijing for
the Olympics.  Ida Chong is one of the 6 newest invitees (along with
me) to “The Party” exhibit at the Royal BC Museum, which features
life-size photos of almost 150 of BC's most colourful and interesting
characters.  Ida is the first Canadian-born MLA of Chinese ancestry.

150 Years in Golden Mountain Awards

My role at this dinner and awards evening  was to represent the Rev. Chan Yu Tan family along with my grand uncles Victor Wong and Daniel Lee.  We all sat at the same table, accompanied by Uncle Victor's wife Auntie Dorothy and my girlfriend Deb Martin.

Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe was the dinner Emcee, Hudson Mack of A-Channel was Emcee for the awards.

Norman Kwong, the Hon. Lt. Gov. of Alberta was invited to say a few official words of greeting, representing the Queen.  But instead he turned it into his acceptance speech for his award.  I guess there was some confusion, or else Mr. Kwong was very canny, because sadly there were no acceptance speeches allowed for the award recipients, as the program didn't allow for any on a very tight schedule.

But as each winner was escorted to the stage, there was a short video played on a large video screen with a voice-over, as pictures flashed before the audience.  It was a lovely gesture and helped to give meaning to each person's contributions to history and why they were deserving of the award.

Here's what the program said about the winner of the British Columbia Lifetime Cultural or Multicultural Award:

This award goes to recognize Revernd Chan Yu Tan who came to Canada in 1896 and ministered to the Chinese pioneers who worked on the railroad, searched for gold, and became shopkeepers and labourers in Victoria, Vancouver, Nanaimo and eventually New Westminster where he eventually retired.  Reverend Chan taught English to the Chinese and emphasized learning Canadian ways, espeically to his extended family.  His son Jack loved golf and was the first Chinese Canadian to serve on jury duty.  His youngest son Luke became an actor in Hollywood.  The four sons of his daughters Rose and Kate enlisted in the Canadian armed forces in World War II, eventually helping Chinese-Canadians gain the right to vote and later helped organize the Chinese Canadian Veterans Associations.  His four grandchildren who served overseas in World War II were Victor Eric Wong, and brothers Howard Lee, Daniel Lee and Leonard Lee.  A great grand-daughter Rhonda Lee Larabee became First Nations Band Chief and great grandson Todd Wong created the event Gung Haggis Fat Choy, a mixture of Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New Year.

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Picture of Rev. & Mrs. Chan Yu Tan's 60th Wedding Anniversary, surrounded by their family and descendants – photo Deb Martin.

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Chan descendants Todd Wong, Daniel Lee, Victor Wong, stand beside
Celebrations Chair Sinclair Mar and Awards Emcee Hudson Mack from
A-Channel – photo Deb Martin

Rev. Chan descendants Todd Wong, Daniel Lee, Victor Wong, stand beside Celebrations Chair Sinclair Mar and Awards Emcee Hudson Mack from A-Channel – photo Deb Martin

The evening's final award, the Golden Mountain Pioneer Legacy Award, was given in recognition to the Chinese Canadian Veterans.   Both my grand-uncles Victor Wong and Daniel Lee went to accept it.

Here's an excerpt from the program about the veterans:

“…After WWII, they concentrated efforts in a lobby for the franchise and other civil rights.  Sgt. Roy Q. Mah, the founding member and President of the Ethnic Associate Press of BC, Vice-President of Ethnic Press Federation of Canada nad owner-publisher-editor of the Chinatown News, went with a contingent of Chinese Canadian Veterans to Ottawa to lobby influential politicians and Members of Parliament. Their lobby was successful, and Paliament soon passed the bill giving Chinese Canadians both the franchise and citizenship.  On January 1st, 1947, Chinese Canadian full rights as Canadian Citizens, including the right to vote, were finally recognized.”

Photo Library - 2943Daniel Lee and Victor Wong stand onstage, as a picture of Victor Wong in India during WW2 is shown on the giant screen – photo Todd Wong

Uncle Dan and Uncle Victor proudly accepted the award, and the entire audience rose to give them a standing ovation.  They represented one of the most important moments in Chinese-Canadian history.  They both saluted the audience, the the applause grew louder.  I am very proud of my uncles, because I know about all the work and devotion they have to keeping the legacy of the Chinese Canadian veterans alive. 

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Victor Wong and Daniel Lee, cousins and grandsons of Rev. Chan Yu Tan saluted the audience after accepting the Golden Mountain Pioneer Legacy Award on behalf of their fellow Chinese Canadian veterans- photo Todd Wong

Every November, Uncle Dan is out selling poppies in the streets of Vancouver and he is now 88 years old.  He has helped organize the Armistice Ceremonies in Vancouver's Victory Square for many many years.  Uncle Victor was interviewed for the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy, as he recounted stories about not only his grandfather Rev. Chan Yu Tan, but also about being in the service, and that he had been a part of a covert force behind enemy lines that were to be assigned suicide missions.  This is the legacy of the Chinese Canadian veterans – that even though the Canadian government wouldn't let them vote in the country they were born in, they were willing to lay down their lives to defend it.

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Giles, Amanda Mills (VCCA Chair), Serena, Sinclair Mar (Celebration Chair), Deb Martin, Todd Wong shared thoughts and company after the event at The Empress Hotel's Bengal Lounge. – photo Deb Martin

More pictures at:

Here is a complete list of the awards:

The Golden Mountain Achievement Awards:
“…the recognize persons of distinction in the Chinese community or for being intrumental in the growth and development of Chinese culture and business…”'

Canadian Lifetime Individual Achievement Award
Dr. David See-Chia Lam

Canada Lifetime Public and Community Serivce Award
Ron Lou-Poy, Q.C.

Canada Lifetime Public and Community Service Award
Senator Vivienne Poy

Canada Lifetime Entrepreneurial Achievement Award
Hon. Norman L. Kwong

Canada Lifetime Entrepreneurial Achievement Award
James Alan Loo Sing

British Columbia Lifetime Entrepreneurial Achievement Award
Hok Yat Louie (post-humous), Tong Louie (post-humous), Brandt Louie, H.Y. Louie Co. Ltd, and London Drugs Ltd.

British Columbia Lifetime Public and Community Service Award
Sgt. Roy Quock Quon Mah (post-humous)

British Columbia Lifetime Cultural or Multicultural Award
Rev. Chan Yu Tan (post-humous)

Inaugural Golden Mountain Achievement Awards British Columbia:
“For recognition of persons or businesses, who are persons of Chinese descent or an organization having “Chinese” roots, who have excelled in their field of endeavor benefiting the Chinese Canadian communities or Canadian society.  These awards are to be for nominations in or related to British Columbia

BC Business and Entrepreneurial Achievement Award
H.Y. Louie Co. Ltd.

British Columbia Arts, Culture or Educational Achievement Award
Dr. Hua Lin

British Columbia Community and Public Service Award
Phillip J. Chan (post-humous)

British Columbia Online or Multi-platform Achievement Award
Mainstream Broadcasting Corporation

Inaugural Golden Mountain Roots Awards and All-Canadian Benefactor Awards:
“The 'Roots' awards are for recognition of distinguished work and dedication to preserving our heritage, culture, and or to advancing our economic impact or advancing business enterprises or projects or research, in or related to, or tied to Victoria BC and/or creating better understanding between Canadians of all backgrounds and/or advancing the entrepreneurial spirit emanating from our roots, Victoria, BC.  they are the safekeepers of our heritage and roots in Victoria, the first Chinatown in Canada.

Victoria, British Columbia Individual or Family Victoria Heritage Award
Don Yuen

Victoria, British Columbia Individual or Family Heritage Award
Dr. Yuen-Fong Woon

Victoria, British Columbia Corporate or Organizational Heritage Award
Fairway Market

Victoria “Roots” Community and Public Service Heritage Award
Dr. David Lai

Victoria “Roots” Community and Public Service Heritage Award
Lee Mong Kow Family

British Columbia All-Canadian Benefactor Award
Victoria “Roots” Community and Public Service Heritage Award
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

Victoria “Roots” All-Canadian Benefactor Award
Victoria Chinese Presbyterian Church

Golden Mountain Pioneer Legacy Award
Chinese Canadian Veterans

150 Years in Golden Mountain

Pageant will tell tales of Golden Mountain

Celebration Pageant