Monthly Archives: July 2009

Save TLC committee is the best prepared to lead The Land Conservancy of BC for the Aug 8th election of new board.

The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) is holding an Extraordinary General Meeting on August 8th to elect new board members.

TLC founder Bill Turner gives a positive “thumbs-up” approval with proposed board members from the Save TLC Committee.  They all attended a one day workshop and meeting on July 5th in Saanich with other proposed board members, committee members and community leaders.
Standing: Todd Wong, Bill Turner, Ken Millard, Magnus Bien
Sitting: Cheryl Bryce, Elspeth McVeigh, Briony Penn

The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) is one of the important players in land conservancy in Canada.  It is a non-profit organization, based on the The National Trust of England, Ireland and Wales.  TLC purchases lands and creates environmental convenants in order to lands, and buildings of environmental, scientific, historical, cultural, scenic and recreational value that would otherwise be loss to destruction, demolition, or development.

TLC: What happened?

On March 27, TLC executive director and founder Bill Turner was “fired” without warning or rational explanation.  This is only three years after the founding visionary was appointed the Order of Canada for  “his tremendous energy and selfless dedication to preserve his province's
natural environment. A realtor, he founded the Land Conservancy of
British Columbia (TLC) to advocate for the protection of the
environment through conservation covenants and ecological gifts.”

According to Save TLC website Q's and A's “At the same time, “another Director gained access to TLC's head offic, once the staff had left for the day, disabled TLC's communications network and changed the locks on the doors.

When Turner was notified of his firing, a replacement had already been hired – without any public search.  Now to be called  Chief Operating Officer (COO) this replacement has no experienc managing land trusts or non-profit organizations, and has never even worked in one.  On Monday, March 30, the COO also fired TLC's long-time Deputy Executive Director, Ian Fawcett – again, without warning and without any explanation.

TLC members were shocked to learn of the events, and of the allegations by the TLC board about the TLC founder Bill Turner.  The Save TLC committee was founded to support the return of Bill Turner and senior management staff to TLC.  As well, the TLC committee has diligently worked to challenge the TLC board on its allegations, and to inform TLC members about these events.

The Save TLC committee has recruited 11 proposed board members that have worked with TLC in many capacities and/or have related experience and background to helping TLC recover from this current situation.

Both the Save TLC committee and TLC Board have
agreed on a procedure that would see all members of TLC vote to
elect a full 11 member Board at the EGM. All Directors of the current
board will resign at the EGM and those eligible may stand for

I am pleased that Bill Turner asked me, Todd Wong, to be on the Save TLC slate.  I have worked with TLC and Bill Turner since December 2005, when TLC became partners with the Save Kogawa House Committee, in an effort to save the childhood home of famous Canadian author Joy Kogawa from demolition. 

I have always been interested in the history of BC, and especially its pioneers.   I have always loved the natural history of BC, and am very aware of the need to protect its environments and eco-systems.  I was honoured that David Kogawa nominated me for the BC Community Achievement Award, citing my community work with the Save Kogawa House Committee, as well as my multicultural community events for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

Former Founding Director Briony Penn has written a letter and sent it out to friends and members of TLC.  Briony writes:

I have received a large number of calls and emails from members
asking me who to vote for regarding the upcoming mail-in ballot for
electing 11 new Board members of  TLC The Land Conservancy of BC and
what my thoughts are.

will be receiving a ballot with 23 names. I would recommend this
wonderful team of grassroot individuals with trusted and proven
experience with land trusts that have put their names forward under the
ballot of Save TLC ( and consider them for the board. Then
vote through the mail-in ballot which you will be sent.

Barry Glickman, professor of biology at UVic
Cheryl Bryce, lands manager for Songhees and spokesperson on First Nations issues of land conservation
Magnus Bein, an ecologist working on the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program in the interior
Alastair Craighead, former Victoria City councillor and cycling activist
Elspeth McVeigh, a Vancouver business woman and historic building specialist
David Merner, a dynamic conflict resolution lawyer and community volunteer
Ken Millard, a veteran lands trust director and Galiano Islander
Carol Pickup a retired Saanich coucillor interested in heritage conservation
Frances Pugh, a farmer and chair of the Saanich Inlet Protection Society
Todd Wong who was active in Vancouver on the Joy Kogawa House and an award winning multiculturalist community organizer
and myself, a Founding Director of TLC and consultant environmental communication/education

have already met as a group and identified our respective skills and
roles that we would bring to restore the organization. All of us are
hard workers in our communities and understand that the financial
security of the organization relies on the relationships we form with
members/donors as this is our biggest asset for the long term financial
and social stability of the organization.

We have all spent time
going over financial statements and addressing the financial
allegations levelled at the senior management by the existing Board
with an independent chartered accountant and a trust lawyer expert that
we hired. The allegations were incorrect and a misinterpretation of the
Charitable Purposes Preservation Act. No law has ever been broken, the
lawyers that resigned were going on verbal advice based on an informal
conversation (one lawyer's)  about blending trust fund accounts, which
is common practice for charities. It is only illegal in a lawyer's
practice in some instances e.g., where you need to separate different
client's accounts that are accruing interest. (for full legal opinion,
trust lawyer David John's letter will be on the tlc website tomorrow,

Ironically, the old board did put forward a motion
to sell Keating Farm which would have been illegal under the Act.  The
Board perceived they needed to do this to alleviate  “crippling debt”
but this again was an incorrect characterization according to the
accountant. The organization was healthy at the point when the staff
were fired. At the end of the day, nothing has waivered our belief in
the skills, competence and commitment of the staff. We did identify
many areas for improvement including the need for Board members to
spend more time fund raising and working directly with the Executive
Director and staff so the two solitudes of Board and Staff never occurs

Part of the biggest problem I believe was that the Board
became more and more distanced from and distrustful of senior staff
because of a difference of interpretation over the financial
circumstances, the law and the selling of properties. The latest slate
of members are already doing their homework and have started on a full
analysis of what went wrong. All of us have worked on projects from the
trenches—either as activists, donors, in political and other supporting
roles. We all know what it takes to make projects successful, attract
members and keep the money rolling in. I believe this slate consists of
people capable of working even in the most challenging circumstances.
That might be what we face August 8th.

Prior to us getting
together last week, Bill Turner had picked me up from the Sunday 6:15
am ferry and we went to Elk Lake to set up the Bottle Drive for TLC. We
spent the next couple of hours picking up and assembling the stands,
bags and tables for the bottle drive. The bottle drive was part of our
commitment to raise money for TLC as the membership contingent of Save
TLC which has been very successful with over $100, 000 raised in a
month. When you are considering which board members to vote for and who
should lead the organization, consider asking the different candidates
who got up at 6 on a Sunday morning to get a bottle drive organized to
raise the funds to save special places?

I know where my vote lies.


Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team places 4th overall at Richmond Dragon Boat Races

Richmond was a good fun race…
We posted the fastest time ever for Gung Haggis.

2009_July_Richmond_Dragon 037 by you.

The race couse was 425m.
our first race was 2:15
our second race was 1:26 – with incoming tide.
our final race was seconds away from 1st overall.
We came 4th…
fractions away from a 3rd place medal.

Here's the video of our 2nd race.
2009_July_Richmond_Dragon 012
It was the 3rd fastest time of the day.
It put us into the A Final.  1:26

Here's another view

Richmond Dragon Boat Festival 2009 Heat 16 GHFC

Here is our race in the A Final – filmed with better quality.

Richmond Dragon Boat Festival 2009 Heat 20 GHFC


4th place overall in A Division is something to be proud of.
The other teams we raced were also conglomerate teams and/or were used to paddling at
Rec A/B and Comp C/D levels.

2009_July_Richmond_Dragon 045 by you.

Front Row (kneeling): Dominic, Tony, Todd, Jim, Tzhe, Oliver,
Middle Row: Gayle, Karen, Lisa, Danielle, Debbie, Christine, Keng, Harvey (steers), Ernest
Back Row: Richard, Dan, Kevin, Danny, Jessica (Drummer), Barb, Devon, Richard, Maggie

All the paddlers had never paddled together before – but we paddled as
a team.  We stayed positive, made new friends, and put good effort into

12 paddlers from Gung Haggis Fat Choy
4 paddlers from PCL Centurions
3 paddlers + drummer from Flight Centre
2 paddlers from How Wet Can You Get
1 paddler + steers from Eye of the Dragon
1 paddler from Sudden Impact black (Gung Haggis alumni)
1 paddler from False Creek Grand Dragons (Gung Haggis alumni)
Some of the paddlers from other teams were old friends, some are brand new.
It was fun to share stories about paddling with Richard and Karen Mah from PCL, back in '99 in San Francisco.
Or about drumming/coaching the Nokia dragons team to a Rec B Gold in 2000, with Danny Issac's (Flight Centre) older sister.
Or about Richard Montagna's first time paddling dragon boats in Vernon with us back in 2006.
Or learning that Dominic has both Scottish and Chinese ancestry…

2009_July_Richmond_Dragon 039 Harvey did a great job steering the boat.

2009_July_Richmond_Dragon 038 Jessical was our wonderful drummer


Special Thanks to Jim Blatherwick for captaining and Tzhe Lam for managing.

Let's bring this wonderful experience to the rest of the team, and take it up to Vernon with us!!!

Thoroughly Modern Millie scores both hits and misses, but is splendidly cast

Diana Kaarina stars in Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Asian-Canadian actors steal the stage in TUTS' Thoroughly Modern Millie

Theatre Under the Stars at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park

July 15 to Aug. 22

Tickets $32 to $39,

Falling in love is one of the most wonderful things in life.  There's lots of “falling in love” in the Thoroughly Modern Millie production by Theatre Under the Stars.  This makes it a wonderful choice to see with a date.

Diana Kaarina is wonderful as the title character Millie Dumount, who hops off a bus from Kansas and makes her way in New York City.  Set in 1922, Millie decides to find a rich husband, by seducing her boss.  Trouble is, first she has to get a job, and a place to live.. 

Millie settles in at the Hotel Priscilla, a place for young women.  It's on the wrong side of 42nd St., and run by the very strange Mrs. Meers – who may be Chinese or not.  Millie has a series of adventures that include getting a job as a stenographer, going to a speakeasy during prohibition, getting arrested, and going to a fabulous party in the penthouse suite of socialite Muzzy van Hossmere.

Everything about this musical is campy, and over the top.  The music is a pastiche of well-known melodies from other productions.  The plot contains misplaced identities, misunderstood intentions, star-crossed lovers, and a kidnapping.  But the wonderful dancing and singing numbers make you forget that everything seems cliched.  Indeed, Thoroughly Modern Millie is designed to pay homage to old musicals, with tongue-in-cheek fun.

Diana Kaarina brings a lot of experience to this production.  She created the role of Miss Dorothy Brown (Millie's BFF) for the First National tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie (2003).  Kaarina brings lots of Broadway experience, having been the closing Eponine in Les Miserables (2003) and also playing roles in Rent and The Phantom of the Opera.

Kaarina brings a touching humaness to the character of Millie.  She isn't just the talk-talking gold digger who wants to marry her boss, but she also cares for her friends and is willing to make sacrifices.

All the lead roles are played well.  Meaghan Anderssen plays the ditzy Miss Dorothy Brown with great comic aplomb, which she did so very well in last year's TUTS production of Annie Get Your Gun.

Danny Balkwill plays Jimmy Smith, the poor but dashing young son of a gardener.  Audience members might recognize him as one of the competitors in Canadian Idol. 

Seth Drabinsky plays Trevor Graydon, the boss that Millie wants to marry.  Drabinsky excells in elocution, as he sings “The Speed Test” which is a Gilbert & Sullivan parody, complete with Busby Berkeley styled dancing.  Wow!

I didn't expect to see Asian-Canadian actors or Asian characters in
Thoroughly Modern Millie.  But it was there in subtle ways… and not
so subtle ways.  The program points out that lead actor Diana Kaarina is Half -Finnish and Half-Chinese. Either way, she is still a beauty, similar to Smallville actor Kristin Kreuk who ancestry is Half-Dutch/Half-Chinese.

The subplot involves the character of Mrs. Meers who runs the Hotel Priscilla, and also employs two Chinese henchmen for a side business of kidnapping.  Sarah Rodgers is over the top, as Mrs. Meers – so highly unbelievable character, that she can only exist in a musical.  Aaron Lau and Daeyoung Danny Kim play the characters of Ching Ho and Bun Foo.  They strive to make the characters realistic, speaking in only Chinese, and also performing some martial arts moves on stage.

While I found it refreshing to see Asian actors playing authentic Chinese characters speaking good Chinese, without being traditionally stereotyped. The stereotypes still persisted in other ways.

Racial stereotypes of Chinese in Thoroughly Modern Millie

I was shocked
that this musical contained lots of out-dated Chinese stereotypes including:
a Chinese laundry, kidnapping for white slavery, bad Chinese accents,
and a female actor in “white face” playing a white woman masquerading
as a Chinese woman. Much less culturally sensitive than Robert Downey
Jr playing a black man in Tropic Thunder

of the sub-plot is that white girls are sold into white slavery and
shipped off to China, by the character of Mrs. Meers, a white woman dressed up as a Chinese woman –
who doesn't even have a proper Chinese accent – She keeps
mis-prounouncing her “L's” as “R's”

She keeps saying things like “Ssssso saaaad, to be arrrr arrrrone in dis worrrrld”

I realize that this is supposed to be a fun frothy romp, and every character is stereotyped to extreme measures…

Asian ethnic actors play the Asian roles and do NOT speak in bad
Chinese accents – but actually in good Cantonese.  The play makes fun
of the stereotypes…

But I still felt uncomfortable watching
the perpetuation of racist stereotypes in this way.  There are many
people in today's audience who don't realize the origins of such
stereotypes, nor the harm that was caused over decades of racism.

Check out what the Asian American theatre review had to say about the
two Chinese henchmen, singing “Mammy” in Chinese – originally sung by
Al Jolson, wearing a “black face” when he played a black man on stage.

The original movie was made in 1967 starring Julie Andrews and Mary
Tyler Moore. Japanese-American actor comics Jack Soo and Pat Morita
played the Chinese henchmen. The Broadway musical debuted in 2002, with
the roles of the Chinese henchmen expanded. They only speak in proper
Chinese. It's the white actress playing a white woman who disguises Read Moreherself
as a pastiche of Asian stereotypes and accents. The purpose was to
“cleverly” make fun of racial stereotypes. Almost every character is
stereotyped to extremes in this post-modern Broadway musical.

arguable that the perpetuation of stereotypes in any form is still
de-humanizing and destructive OR have we come far enough that we should
be able to recognize such stereotypes for what they are, and be able to
laugh at the stupidity and ridiculousness of the people who perpetuate

The best use of “Clever” parodying of racial stereotypes was in Marty
Chan's “Mom, Dad, I'm Living With A White Girl.” The stereotypes take
place in the main character's dream about him mother and father
becoming a dragon lady and her loyal henchman. In this case, the
context is about racial and cultural stereotypes, and easily understood
by the Read Moreaudience.

in Millie, while the 2 Chinese characters are played very straight and
respectful, speaking in good cantonese, and humourously holding up
sheets of laundry for a clever display of “subtitles” – The fact
remains that they are still Chinese laundry workers, part of a “white
slavery” kidnapping operation.

The character of Mrs. Henessey
is still a white woman pretending to be Asian, by wearing a “painted
face”, speaking mixed up Asian accent, and perpetuating stereotypes.  Check out youtube portrayals of Mrs. Meers.

Otherwise – the cast is GREAT!
the lead who plays the title character Millie Dumont is Broadway
veteran, Vancouver born Diana Kaarina, half-Chinese and half-Finnish.

Other reviews

Vancouver Sun review: Millie shines in a show burdened by too much business

Georgia Straight: Thoroughly Modern Millie full of relentless enthusiasm

Gay Vancouver Review: Thoroughly Modern Millie is throughouly enjoyable | Theatre

Theatre Under the Stars opens with a flawless production of Annie

It's a wonderful summer with great music in Stanley Park.

Michelle Creber is the 9 year old carrying a whole theatre production on her shoulders in the lead role, wonderfully supported by David Adams who lives and breathes Daddy Warbucks.

This production sparkles from the opening overture to the finale.  It's a classic feel-good musical with a signature song that everybody will recognize:

“The sun will come out…. Tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun.”

There wasn't anything to complain about for the opening night production of Annie on Tuesday night.  The next night, people were still saying it was flawless.  Thanks to the deft direction of Glynis Leyson, more know as artistic director of Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, and recent director of Vancouver Opera's Rigoletto.

The story opens during the Depression, with orphans not quite read to settle down for bed time at an orphanage.  Annie soon decides to leave the orphanage to look for her mother and father, but winds up having dinner with homeless people, before she is picked up by the police and returned to the orphanage. 

The musical has songs or every one of Annie's adventures. Annie goes to live with multi-millionaire Oliver Warbucks, himself a former child orphan.  She meets president Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

Darkness (but not too dark) gathers when a subplot reveals that con artists plan to pretend to be Annie's real parents when Oliver Warbucks offers a $50,000 reward. 

The children actors playing orphans fill the production with life.  Little Olivia Steele-Falconer is a scene stealer.  This is a

Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant to close in Vancouver Chinatown: It's the end of an era for Cantonese restaurants

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 034

Friends, Todd Wong and Jim Wong Chu, standing outside Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant after eating there for the last time. – photo T.Wong

Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant to close in Vancouver Chinatown: It's the end of an era for Cantonese restaurants

(please note that due to popular demand – Foo's Ho Ho did re-open.  Open Wednesday to Sunday, Closed Monday and Tuesday – 102 East Pender Street Vancouver, BC V6A 1T3 – (604) 609-2889 – editor Todd Wong January 2010)

On Friday, I received notice that Foo's Ho Ho restaurant was going to close on Saturday July 11th.

On July 9th Friday, several friends sent out emails to me about Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant, including Wesley Lowe, Larry Wong, Bob Sung and Jim Wong Chu.  Larry wrote:

“Sam, the cook and proprietor of Foo’s Ho Ho has liver cancer and is
currently in VGH pallative care. At most he has 2 months left to live. 
His partner, Joanne has been keeping the landmark restaurant open and
continuing cooking the delicious dishes you’ve enjoyed and remembered
throughout the years.

Going back and forth between the hospital and the restaurant has
taken a toil on her and she has reluctantly decided to close Foo’s Ho
Ho indefinitely after this coming Saturday. The famous neon sign will
dim one last time. So it’s last call for those who wish to have one
more lunch or dinner for old times sake and it’s also a way to support
Joanne and Sam financially.  An opportunity to re-live a part of
old-time Chinatown, round up some friends and book your table.

The first Chinese pioneers to Canada were Cantonese speakers, and they brought Cantonese styled Chinese food with them.  As the pioneers spread across North America, so did Chinese restaurants.

During the 1960's and 1970's, my father would often stop at the Ho Ho Restaurant in Vancouver Chinatown and bring back chow mein or deep-fried won ton, as a late night snack.

I can remember many friday nights, when we would meet our family friends at the Ho Ho restaurant, then either go swimming at Father & Son nights at the YMCA, or shopping at Army & Navy and Woodwards along Hastings St.

During the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's, Chinatown's neon was the place to be, and the place to eat! – photo courtesy of Christian Dahlberg

Larry also is a local Chinatown historian and he wrote: “Foo’s Ho Ho is the last of the “village-style” Cantonese restaurants
from the late 1940s. establishments in Vancouver’s Chinatown that does
the original home-style cooking. Many of the older generation remembers
it well. Sam who first gain his cooking chops at the WK Restaurant and
later at the Famous Marco Polo and others before he resurrected the Ho
Ho which had been left vacant for a number of years and renamed it
Foo’s Ho Ho.”

In recent years, I have attended many dinners at Foo's Ho Ho with the Chinese Canadian Miltary Museum, Pacific Unit 280, and also with Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC, as well as with our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team after Tuesday night practices.

My friend David Wong wrote on his blog:

At one time, the Ho Ho graced one of the city’s most familiar neon
landmarks – a stylized bowl of rice with steam rising up 3 1/2 stories.
 Within this neon rise, alternated the Chinese characters for “Ho
Ho”…and her English words – both in flashing neon glory.

The restaurant once hosted many of Chinatown establishment’s major
events – weddings, Clan society dinners, cultural and festival dinners,
etc. The enterprise occupied the lower two floors of an old 8 storey
brick building that contained a once thriving rooming house / hotel,
the “Sun Ah”.

At one time, another old favourite restaurant existed a block away. Foo’s restaurant. When old Foo’s restaurant closed shop, the Ho
Ho became “Foo’s Ho Ho”

From serving tourists to locals, there are regular groups of
customers who return to enjoy the authentic ciusine that faithfully
maintained Chinatown’s history. Each year, the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia hosts its Annual General Meeting dinner at Foo’s Ho Ho in honour of the tradition and history that it represents.

What did we eat for our “Last Night at Foo's Ho Ho”?

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 016Sticky Rice w/chicken – one of my Favorites!  photo T.Wong

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 017Ox Tail with Black Bean sauce  photo T.Wong

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 018Curried potato with beef slices – Another Favorite!  photo T.Wong

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho Egg Foo Yung – Sam's signature dish.  photo T.Wong

Who was eating at Foo's Ho Ho on the last night?

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 003 photo T.Wong

Peter Wong, Kwoi Gee, Annie, and Opal.  Peter is the brother of Steven Wong, one of our paddlers on the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  Steven tells us that their family often goes to Foo's Ho Ho restaurant.  Their father Bill Wong runs Modernize Tailors, another landmark institution in Vancouver Chinatown.

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 005 photo T.Wong

Our table with (standing) Jim Wong Chu, Marlene, Bev and Ken (visiting from the next table), sitting: Todd, Deb, Dan, Sandy, Al and Stuart Mackinnon. Deb, Dan, Stuart and myself have shared many dinners at Foo's Ho Ho, following dragon boat practices.  Jim and Bev are Chinatown institutions themselves, having grown up in the area, then working hard as board members to develop Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society into a major Vancouver festival.

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 015photo T.Wong

My mom's cousin Gary Lee, a friend, Tina, Gary's wife Josie, Bev and Ken.  Gary filmed his interview for the CBC documentary Generations: The Chan Legacy, upstairs at the Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant.  Gary's a real Chinatown veteran.  His father Gordie Lee helpd develop Lee's Taxi – Vancouver's first Chinese-Canadian owned taxi service.  Gary also used to sing in local night clubs – he was called “the Chinese Sinatra.”

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 014 photo T.Wong

Ron, George, Sid, Fanna, Elwin and Mary, were all active compatriots during the Chinese Head Tax Redress campaign of 05-06.  We are all pioneer Chinese head tax descendents.  Sid has carried the torch for many years, and promises to keep carrying it until all the head tax certificates are recognized – not just the less than 1% of surviving head tax payers and spouses.

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 013 photo T.Wong

Bob Lee and Family had the largest gathering at Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant.  Bob was the first Chinese-Canadian chancellor of UBC, and his daughter Carole recently organized the Chinatown and Beyond conference.

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 028 photo T.Wong
At the end of the meal, Todd and Jim went to say thank you to the chef, Joanne.  By the end of the evening, there was a rumour going around that Joanne was so touched by the turnout for “Last Night at Foo's Ho Ho” that she might keep the restaurant going… or re-open in a month…

In any case, we wish the best for Sam and Joanne.  They've earned a place in Vancouver's culinary and cultural history.

2009_July_Foos_Ho_Ho 027 photo T.Wong
Behind the cashier desk at Foo's Ho Ho, is this picture taken last November following the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Canadian Chinese Pioneer Monument in Keefer Square.  The Hon. Lt. Gov. Steven Point spontaneously decided to attend the ceremonies and gave a very heartfelt speech.  The veterans of Pacific Unit 280 always go to Foo's Ho Ho for lunch afterwards.  After the lunch, Lt. Gov. Steven Point asked to meet the cook, and honoured Joanne with a “Thank You Song” which he and his wife Gwen sang in their First Nations Sto:lo language.  Itw as a wonderful and proud moment for all who attended.

Koto concert & Art of Taiko upcoming events at Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre

Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre is presenting a Koto Concert and Art of Taiko.
July 26th and July 30th.

From the press release and website:

The Japanese Canadian National Museum
Koto Concert – Chikako Kanehisa, a benefit concert for the National Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre
Sunday, July 26, 2009, 3pm


Chikako Kanehisa from Japan will perform a concert to help raise funds
for National Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre. This will be a
captivating concert of traditional as well as contemporary and
improvisational music. A special guest musician will also perform.
Tickets $20 adults, $15 seniors & students. Register by phone (604)
777-7000 or by e-mail


Place Museum hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11am-5pm at 6688 Southoaks
Cres, Burnaby (Kingsway at Sperling). For more information, call
604-777-7000 or visit

The second event is a taiko demonstration/lecture with
Kenny Endo. I don't have an image, but I do have a press release for
this event which I have also attached. The description is below:

National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre
The Art of Taiko with Kenny Endo – lecture/demonstration

Thursday, July 30, 2-4pm, 2009
Kenny Endo

Photo credit: Raymond Yuen

Endo will perform and speak about the traditions of taiko as well as
demonstrate his original work for this ancient instrument. He’ll
explain about the instruments, show how taiko is learned and
performance pieces are memorized. The historical and cultural context
of taiko will be discussed. The odaiko (large drum), taiko set,
tsuzumi, fue (bamboo flute) and various traditional percussion
instruments will be featured. Minimum donation of $10 per person.
Please register by phone 604.777.7000 or email


For more information please call Nikkei Place, 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby 604-777-7000


Why Michael Jackson…. and Frank Sinatra Matters….

Michael was a revolutionary. He changed the way music was performed, and he challenged the way we looked at the world…
Sinatra had done the same…

Like Bing Crosby with the advent of the microphone, Sinatra and long play concept albums, Elvis and rock and roll, Dylan and folk music, Michael Jackson was there for music videos and pushed the boundaries.  

Like Sinatra and Elvis, he pushed the boundaries of “race music” while helping to create greater racial acceptance.  Sinatra helped open the doors for black artists, including Sammy Davis Jr. as a member of the “Rat pack” and speaking for racial equality.  Jackson did the same in his own way, not only performing with white artists such as Paul McCartney and Britney Spears, but also in his personal life – dating and befriending many people such as Brooke Shields, Elizabeth Taylor and marrying Lisa Marie Presley, as examples of greater dissolution of borders between black and white.

This past week, I have been reading the book “Why Sinatra Matters” written by Pete Hamill soon after the death of Sinatra.  With all the media attention around MJ's death, I have listened to the music and watched the videos, and recalled my own memories and experiences of how Michael Jackson's music has been part of my life.


By reading “Why Sinatra Matters” it gives a greater context and template to examine how Michael Jackson's life, music and dance have impacted on both American and global popular culture.  Both were affected by their ethnic roots where their communities were treated as 2nd class: Sinatra grew up in the time between the World Wars, when Italians were immigrants to America and worked as labourers to survive.  Jackson grew up during the 60's at the time of the American civil rights movement and the rise of African-American studies and culture.  Both men forged their ways to greater acceptance of the American dream, breaking through barriers and claiming their places amongst the perceived White Anglo Saxon Protestants mainstream.

Both Sinatra and Jackson, had also been constant targets in the press and tabloids.  While Sinatra's supposed mob connections kept him out of purchasing a Las Vegas resort, Jackson was also the constant target for his court cases of child abuse and his plastic surgery.  But both men also were great philanthropists and addressed the greater good.  Jackson's songs “We Are The World,” “The Man in the Mirror” and “Earth Song” are part of his legacy, as surely as Sinatra's work with Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson at the recording session for Sinatra's last solo studio album  L.A. is My Lady (not including the duets albums), produced by Quincy Jones who also produced the Jackson albums “Off the Wall,” and “Thriller.”

From the intro:

“When Frank Sinatra died on the evening of May 14, 1988, the news made the front pages all around the world.  Many ran extra editions and followed with special supplements…

“It was mandatory to chronicle his wins and losses, hisfour marriages, his battles, verbal and physical, with reporters and photographers.  His romances required many inches of type.  There were accounts of his fierce temper, his brutalities, his drunken cruelties.  Some described him as a thug or a monster, whose behavior was redeemed only by his talent…

Sinatra , however, did matter in other ways.  He wasn't simply an entertainer from a specific time and place in American life who lived on as a kind of musty artifact.  Through a combination of artistic originality, great passion, and immense will, he transcended several eras and indirectly helped change the way all of us lived.  He was formed by an America that is long gone: the country of the European immigrants and the virulent America-for-Ameriancs nativism that was directed at them… They were extraordinary times, and in his own way, driven by his own confusions, neroses, angers, and ambitions, Frank Sinatra helped push the country forward.

“Now Sinatra is gone, taking with him all his anger, cruelty, generosity, and personal style.  The music remains.  In times to come, that music will continue to matter, whatever happens to our evolving popular culture.  The world of my grandchildren will not listen to Sinatra in the way four generations of Americans have listened to him.  But high art always survives.  Long after his death, Charlie Parker still palys his verion of the urban blues.  Billie Holiday still whispers her angish.  Mozart still erupts in joy.  Every day, in cities and towns all over the planet, someone discovers them for the first time and finds in their art that mysterious quality that makes the listener more human.  In their work all great artsists help trancscend the solitude of individuals; they relieve the ache of loneliness; they supply a partial response to the urging of writer E/ M. Forster: “Only connect.” In their ultimate triumph over the banality of death, such artists continue to matter.  So will Sinatra.”
pp. 3-9 “Why Sinatra Matters” by Pete Hamill.

I have just finished watching the Michael Jackson Tribute, and am remembering all the times I saw Michael, and was touched by his music. 
Here's a youtube clip of the television cartoon show:


I remember:

  • Watching the Jackson 5 cartoon show as a kid, and listening to the Jackson 5, thinking… he's my age!
  • Walking home from school and singing “Enjoy Yourself” with friends.
  • Dancing
    to “Off the Wall” and “Rock With Me” during the days of disco, as well
    as the Jacksons songs “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)”, “This
    Place Hotel”
  • Seeing Michael do the moon walk on the Motown 25th Anniversary show.
  • Seeing the Jacksons concert in 1984 at Vancouver's BC Place Stadium.  We went to the 2nd concert. I still have the program and a t-shirt.
  • Listening to “Bad” with college friends when it first came out.
  • I remember dancing to “Black and White” on my Waikiki honeymoon with my then-wife…. in 1991.
  • Watching Olympic skater Katerina Witt do an encore performance to “She Drives Me Wild”

John Ralston Saul says Canada is Metis/Aboriginal…. in nature – not English/French/Scottish….

John Ralston Saul says Canada is Metis/Aboriginal…. in nature – not English/French/Scottish….

Here is John Ralston Saul's 2008 book about Canada:

SUMMARY OF A FAIR COUNTRY (from his website):

this startlingly original vision of Canada, thinker John Ralston Saul
unveils 3 founding myths. Saul argues that the famous “peace, order,
and good government” that supposedly defines Canada is a distortion of
the country’s true nature. Every single document before the BNA Act, he
points out, used the phrase “peace, welfare, and good government,”
demonstrating that the well-being of its citizenry was paramount.

also argues that Canada is a Métis nation, heavily influenced and
shaped by aboriginal ideas: egalitarianism, a proper balance between
individual and group, and a penchant for negotiation over violence are
all aboriginal values that Canada absorbed. Another obstacle to
progress, Saul argues, is that Canada has an increasingly ineffective
elite, a colonial non-intellectual business elite that doesn’t believe
in Canada. It is critical that we recognize these aspects of the
country in order to rethink its future.”

Canada Day rally for Chinese Head Tax families: 10:30am Chinatown Monument

Canada Day rally for Chinese Head Tax families: 10:30am Chinatown Monument

This will be the 4th annual Chinatown Redress Rally, since Prime Minister Harper apologized for the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act – but limited redress packages to only surviving head tax payers and their spouses.  This action effectively limited full redress to less than 1% of head tax paying families, as almost all head tax payers had already died.  Many head tax payers passed on their certificates to their children, because they believed the government would make a fair and equal redress someday, and because they believed that Canada was a fair and equal country.  Chinese Canadians have lobbied against head tax since it was legislated in 1885.  After WW2, Chinese Canadian WW2 veterans successfully lobbied for the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1947.  In 1988, a Japanese Canadian Redress package was finally achieved after 4 years of negotiations. The Chinese Head Tax Redress package was never openly negotiated with community groups.

Media Advisory – June 30, 2009

Head Tax Families Celebrate Canada Day With Hot Dogs:
Rally at Monument to Chinese Railway Workers and War Veteran

Vancouver, BC –  Members of Head Tax Families Society of Canada (HTFSC)
and its supporters will celebrate Canada Day with hot dogs in Chinatown.
The Fourth Annual Chinatown Redress Rally maybe remembered as the one
when the hotdogs appeared and the start of a tradition. Head tax families are
proud Canadians exercising their rights of public assembly and speech. They
will call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to start good-faith
negotiations with representatives of head tax families for an inclusive just and
honourable redress

Time:  10:30am members call time – program to begin shortly after
Date:   Wednesday July 1, 2009 – Canada Day
Place: Memorial to Chinese Railway Workers and War Veterans
           Keefer and Columbia (NE corner), Vancouver

The Conservative government's June 22, 2006 Parliamentary apology and
unilaterally imposed redress package excluded most head tax families seeking
direct meaningful symbolic redress. Less than 900 families were eligible for the
ex gratia payments to surviving head tax payers and spouses of deceased head
tax payers. Some 3,000 families have registered with HTFSC and inclusive
redress-seeking groups across Canada calling for justice and honour for
affected elderly sons and daughters whose parents are deceased. Over 82,000
Chinese immigrants paid the head tax from 1885 to 1923, when exclusion
legislation was enacted. Repealed in 1947, the Chinese exclusion laws impoverished and
separated many head tax families for decades.

Members and supporters of Head Tax Families Society of Canada are today's
Canadians on a twenty-six year struggle for an inclusive just and
honourable redress
for affected head tax families.

Go to for more information.

– 30 –

Contact: Sid Tan – 604-783-1853