Monthly Archives: September 2008

Special Kilts at Doolin's: Tim's Birthday + Frommer's shows up to review the night life!

Kilts Night
is always special when the Gung Haggis dragon boat paddlers show up…. especially when the “Halifax Wharf Rats” are playing their celtic tinged folk and rock songs!

HPIM2978 by bunnybears.
Happy Birthday Tim!  Bass player Tim Renaud of “Halifax Wharf Rats” with Alissa and Marion of the Gung Haggis dragon boat team – photo Todd Wong/Bunny Bears.

It's “Kilts Night” – the first Thursday each month.  We meet at Doolin's Irish Pub.  If you wear a kilt, you receive a free pint of Guinness beer.

There is great music by the Halifax Wharf Rats” which specializes in Canadiana music with a celtic twist of folk and rock.

Deb, Marion and Hillary enjoy a pint of Strongbow and Guinness. – photo Marion

When you can learn thewords to songs like “Farewell Nova Scotia,” “Alberta Bound,” “Four Strong Winds,” and “Barrett's Privateers,” – you know you're Canadian.

And when you can wear a kilt and look around you at your friends all wearing kilts, and realize that half of them are Canadians of Asian ancestry, and you don't think that's weird – then you know you are amongst your friends on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team… and that feels Canadian.

Vancouver's heritage is full of diversity, and nothing brings people together easier than music and a good drink.

Welcome to Kilts Night – Gung Haggis Fat Choy style!


A writer and photographer Derrick Lepper, for Frommer's travel guide showed up researching Vancouver's night life.  They took a picture of Marion pulling the darts out of the dart board – photo Todd/Marion

Yvonne and Tony showed up sans kilts, but promised to wear kilts for next month – photo Marion

A favorite activity is to dance to the Proclaimer's song “500 Miles” Leanne, Hillary, Alissa, Jim (hidden) and Todd- photo Marion

And we raise our hands as we dance and sing… Leanne, Raphael and Tony – photo Marion

Next Kilts Night is Oct 2.  First Thursday of the month for October!

D.D. Jackson's new “Hockey Night in Canada” theme

How about a Hockey Night in Canada theme composed by a Chinese-African-Canadian jazz musician?

D.D. Jackson is one of Canada's prolific jazz musicians and composers.  He composed the jazz opera Québecité with author George Elliot Clarke – which incorporated the themes of diversity, multiculturalism, racial and religious intolerance

Here is a message from D.D. Jackson with a link to his music/video new theme for “Hockey Night in Canada.”

Hi all!
CBC television network is sponsoring a “Hockey Night in Canada” new
theme song competition. For those of you unaware, hockey is Canada's
true national sports pastime and the original “Hockey Night” theme this
new song will replace has really become Canada's second “national
anthem” :-)…I've written my own anthem entry, which you can check out

you like it, please feel free to comment on the site, rate it and
spread the word, as the winner will in part be based upon audience
input (there are also over 12,000 others that have been submitted
covering a fascinatingly wide range of approaches and styles)…

Much thanks and all the best!
– D.D. Jackson

Silk Road Music performs at Dr. Sun Yat Gardens for Enchanted Evenings concert Friday Sept 5

One of Vancouver's most intimate concert spaces is the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens.

One of my favorite cultural fusion musical artists is Silk Road Music's Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault.

Silk Road Music Ensemble actually performed in the 2004 CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.”  We shot the very first music video ever in the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens – but it featured The Paperboys, instead of Silk Road Music. 

But whenever I get the chance to hear a Silk Road Music concert at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens, I try my best to attend.  It is magical.  It is intimate.  It is interesting.  It is educational.  Qiu Xia and Andre have a very warm rapport with their audience.  They always make their Enchanted Evenings concert at the Gardens special by inviting special guest performers to join them.

Qiu Xia and Andre have also become friends over the years, and have performed with me at many Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner events, as well as for First Night Vancouver 2005: Gung Haggis Fat Choy Performance.

Below is a message from Qiu Xia, informing friends about their Enchanted Evenings concert this Friday at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens.

A note to all Silk Road Music Friends:

Gumboot to China
Silk Road Music presents a fascinating performance of Chinese and African dance.
Highlife,Gumboot and Step-dancing from the African diaspora, Central
Asian music of Xin-Jiang, colorful dance and costumes of hill tribes
from Yunnan to the Mongolian plateau. The journey will unite some
of  Vancouver’s finest artists: Jacky Essombe, a heart warming
Cameroonian dancer; Jessica Jone and Cheng xin Wei, a highly creative
team redefining Chinese dance; Qiu xia He on Chinese pipa and vocal,
Andre Thibault on guitar, oud and winds plus Pepe Danza on world

Sep 5.2008

Enchanted Evenings Concert Series

All concerts begin promptly at 7:30pm. Doors open at 7pm.

Ticket Prices: $18.00 (non Garden members) and $15.00 for members.

Call 604-662-3207 ext 208 for tickets or email

We recommend pre-purchasing your tickets as these popular concerts are often sell-outs!

Silk Road Music
Qiu Xia He
Tel: 604-434-9316

Every year I speak at a Terry Fox school run: this year I will speak at Chief Maquinna Elementary in Vancouver


Terry Fox is one of our greatest Canadians.  He is one of our greatest British Columbians.  This year he is featured in “The Party” display for the “Free Spirit” exhibition at the Royal BC Museum.

Terry Fox is one of my heroes.  In 1993, I was awarded the SFU Terry Fox Gold Medal for “courage in adversity” and “dedication to society.”

Terry's brother, Darrell Fox, asked me to become a “Terry Team member“- cancer survivors who serve as living examples that cancer research has helped to make a difference.

Since 1993, I have spoken at Elementary Schools, and Terry Fox community runs throughout Metro Vancouver, as well as in Kelowna (2001, 2002) and Beijing China (1993).  It is a tremendous honour to share with both children and adults, how Terry Fox's “Marathon of Hope” has changed the lives of cancer victims, helping to turn them into cancer survivors.  I am certain that advances in cancer research helped to save my life from a near fatal cancer tumor in 1989.

Today, I was asked by elementary teacher Bill Hood, to speak at Chief Maquinna Elementary in Vancouver.  Bill wrote:

“Bill Hood here. I was reminded today, by a colleague, that you had
offered a potential visit/talk to our school (Chief Maquinna
Elementary) in conjunction with the upcoming Terry Fox Run.

We are having our Terry Fox assembly on Friday Sept. 12, at around 8:50 AM.

Any chance we could work something out?

We have about 250 kids in the school (Grades K-7) and are located near 1st and Nanaimo in the East End..

Hope you are doing well.”

I was especially thrilled to accept this speaking engagement because I grew up about 6 blocks away from Chief Maquinna Elementary School.  It's very close to the old neighborhood I grew up in.

Usually when I go to an elementary school, I will talk about surviving cancer, using my personal experience as an example.  I talk about Terry Fox at Simon Fraser University, and include some of the stories that his former SFU friends, teachers, coaches and team mates have shared with me.

Sometimes I talk about running a Terry Fox Run in Beijing in 1993, or meeting Terry's mom, dad, brothers and sister.

Sometimes I bring my SFU Terry Fox Gold Medal or my plaque to show the students.  The plaque is engraved with Terry's words “Dreams are made if people try.”

And in my life, I have been personally very interested in attending Terry Fox events, such as the unveiling of the Terry Fox $1 coin, visiting the Terry Fox statues in Victoria or Simon Fraser University.  Or even watching Terry Fox television specials or movies on television.

You can donate directly to the Terry Fox Run Donation:
Click here:

Gung Haggis dragon boat team makes C Group final at Taiwanese Dragon Boat Races

Gung Haggis team paddling in a barrel race (10 paddlers) on Saturday.  Wendy is drummer and Todd is steering.  Lead strokes are Colleen and Hillary, followed by Sher & Raphael, Brooke and Cindy, Dave & Tony, Jonas & Devon.  photo courtesy of Ben Lee

It was our final dragon boat event of the season (sniff, sniff).

Special thanks to Captain Ernest
for leading our team for the Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon
Boat Races.  We had a good core of paddlers and some good developing
paddlers + some guest paddlers. 

Future races are:
Sep 28th, Sunday, UBC Day of the Long Boat – 10 paddlers
Oct 11th, Saturday Ft. Langley Cranberry Canoe Regatta  – 10 paddlers


We performed well on Saturday and Sunday, posting 2nd, 3rd and 3rd in
our preliminary and semi-final races.  We made it to the top 3 finals
out of 5 heats.  We raced against some pretty experienced recreational
teams and paddlers in C Group, such as Elephant & Castle, Draco
Stealth (Calgary + Vancouver paddlers), Synergy Rice Rockets.

We had fun racing the fun races… It's always good to get extra time in the boats.  On Saturday, we did a barrel race and had good compliments from other paddlers.  Our time of  2.33.46 made us 7th of 12 teams.  Fastest was FCRCC at  2.01.06 Slowest was The Eh Team 2.53.52

On Sunday we had a good Nogard race too… coming the closest ever to grabbing the flag on the way back.  We weren't the fastest team to the flag, but we had one of the fastest turnarounds, and when we changed direction we were very close to the flag.  Our team switched seats, started paddling.  We kept the flag close to the boat, but we were too close to the flag.  Paddles hit the flag, and when Jane reached to grab the flag, it dipped down out of her reach…. by inches…   We turned everybody around in the boat, and went to go pick up our flag.  Then we grabbed the last remaining flag, and handed it to the boat that forgot to get their flag.

With a time of  3.58.94 we were 11th out of 15 boats, probably the fastest of the teams who missed their flags.  Fastest time was FCRCC at 2.58.27 Flying Butts were 4.18.84 and Race Face United was DNF.

Unfortunately for us at year's Taiwanese Dragon Boat Races, we didn't have much paddler depth. Usually we always have at least 2 extra paddlers.  But Labour Day weekend holidays and work schedules took their toll.  We rotated 2
Saturday only paddlers for 2 Sunday only paddlers.  This race, we almost always
raced with 18 paddlers – no spares.  And once on Sunday morning – we
were waiting for a missing paddler because we had no spares. 

With so many new and smaller paddlers on our team, we were only 10
seconds slower than Scaly Justice Bytes' 3rd in B Division, 7 seconds
slower than Eh Team's 3rd place in our final, 3 1/2 seconds than
Naluwan Lightning Silver's 3rd place in the D final.  Resting
tired paddlers and having more experienced veteran paddlers for depth
could easily have made up 5 seconds or so that is needed to catch a medal.

But that's racing… We can't control the other teams, but we can control our own abilities on the boat.  We had fun, we felt good, and we can be proud of our accomplishments this weekend.

Final rankings and times are posted on

You can see our final race here (we are at the end at the 1:15 mark):

C Final
chase boat had to park near the party cruise boats to keep an eye out
as they came out, so only about half the race could be recorded)

see other races:

Taiwanes Cultural Festival is exciting with lots of music + I take Gregor Robertson onto a Taiwanese Dragon Boat

The Taiwanese Cultural Festival is one of Vancouver's most exciting festivals. 
It is truly a mixture of arts, culture, music and sports. And it features both local and international artists.

Name another cultural festival in Vancouver with it's own dragon boat races…  Did you say Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival?  That's really a dragon boat race with a festival attached to it.  The Taiwanese Cultural Festival really stands on its own.  Dragon Boat racing was only introduced as a side event 6 years ago.  And…. these dragon boat races are special – no where else in Canada will you find a dragon boat race where you have to grab a flag before you cross the finish line.  It makes for a very exciting race to watch.

Name another ethnic festival that features internationally known performers…  Did you say the SUCCESS fundraiser at GM Place?  True but it's not actually a walkabout festival and you would have to pay way more than the $10-$12 to get in.  This is like the PNE – but for Taiwanese culture and history.  And lots of entertainment in both Mandarin in English languages.  This year's Taiwan Festival features Wu Bai & China Blue Concert Tour – only one of two North American stops.

On Saturday morning, I popped into the Taiwanese Festival in between races.  I watched part of the opening ceremonies with all the VIP's sitting in the front of the stage.  I recognized city councilors Raymond Louie and BC Lee.  MLA Raj Chouhan and provincial candidate Gabriel Yui.  It was also nice to talk to James Chou, one of the event organizers.  The Taiwanese Cultural Festival has always played a big role in getting local politicians to attend.  I can't think of any other ethnic festivals that would warrant enough attention in the ethnic community to warrant political parties having their own booths, but here there were information booths set up by the provincial NDP, and the civic COPE and Vision Vancouver parties.

Our dragon boaters always like to go visit the food stalls at the Taiwanese Festival.  Dim Sum is available, as well as noodles, sticky rice and curried squid.   My friend Dave and I shared shrimp dumplings, pork dumplings and sticky rice.  It hit the spot nicely.  Usually we recommend to our paddlers not to eat too much greasy food such as hamburgers and fries before racing.  But these light foods satisfied the tummy just right.

In the afternoon, I was able to see part of the music performance of Eastern Legends by Chai Found Music Workshop.  They have an exciting blend of Chinese traditional music instruments that thye use with rock music stylings and a great energetic dance moves. 

I also was lucky to see Orchid Ensemble – one of my favorite cross-cultural fusion music ensembles.  They always bring a high level of viturosity to their performances.

After the racing was done, I went back to the exhibit booths where I found Gregor Robertson, former MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, and now mayor candidate for Vision Vancouver.  Gregor had attended this year's Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, and I've met him a few times over the years.  He had never seen a Taiwanese dragon boat before, so I took him down to the dock, just after the last races had finished.  I explained how the Taiwanese dragon boat races were different than the other dragon boat races in Vancouver, and how we set up the first flag grabbing demonstration race between city councilor Raymond Louie and former Olympic Gold Medalist Lori Fung.  If Gregor is going to be our next Vancouver mayor, it's also important that he understands how dragon boat racing is considered both an iconic and integral part of Vancouver's cultural diversity.  We also briefly talked about the threat to False Creek by the accidental sewage dumps caused by the 2010 constuction in South East False Creek, and how it affects recreational boating for Vancouverites.

Here are some of the other featured performances at the Taiwanese Cultural Festival this year.

  • When Danny met Sophie
    The Encounter of Erhu and Cello