Toddish McWong arrives in Scotland for inaugural visit and reception at Scottish Parliament for “This is Who We Are”

Toddish McWong goes to Scotland: attends reception at Scottish Parliament and does live radio interview back to CBC Radio Vancouver

2009_Scotland_ThisIsWhoWeAre 111 After hosting the annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner for 12 years to celebration Chinese-Canadian and Scottish-Canadian arts and culture, I finally made a visit to Scotland. 

This is my first ever trip to Scotland… and I almost didn't make it.

It's the year of Scotland Homecoming, celebrating the 250th Anniversary of poet Robert Burns, and the 2009 version of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner was one of the listed events of Burns Suppers around the world.  The Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner is the largest Burns Supper in Vancouver (550) and we were chosen as the only Burns Supper in Vancouver to auction off one of only 250 specially made bottles of 37 year old Famous Grouse whisky as part of the Scotland Homecoming celebrations.

Earlier this year, my photo was included in a web photo exhibit THIS IS WHO WE ARE, for Cultural Connect Scotland created by Harry McGrath – former director of the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University.

2009_Scotland_ThisIsWhoWeAre 108Harry McGrath, Harry's brother-in-law and sister Gavin and Isabelle, Scottish minister of Justice Kenny MacAskill + Todd Wong – photo Todd Wong collection

On St. Andrew's Day, November 30th. There was a reception for a specially created version of photo and video THIS IS WHO WE ARE: Scots in Canada.  It is part of the finale events for Scotland Homecoming.  The event was co-hosted by First Minister Alex Salmond and Presiding Officers Alex Fergusson.

2009_Scotland_ThisIsWhoWeAre 077 Alex Salmond, Scottish First Minister quoting Scottish born John Buchan, Scottish writer and former Governor General:

“For Canada, in one sense is simply Scotland writ large. Since I came here a year ago, I have never suffered for one moment from homesickness.  I find pine forests and swift streams, and trout, and salmon, and mountains, which are Scotland on a grander scale; and I find in parts of the prairies, green rolling hills like my own Borders.” – John Buchan, the creator of the Governor Generals Literary Awards in 1937,
2009_Scotland_ThisIsWhoWeAre 016

In the exhibition, a lifesize picture of Todd Wong aka Toddish McWong is featured in the Culture section.

I think this photo is from the photo archives sessions we did for CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy”.  I was wearing the Royal Stuart tartan and holding the Chinese lion dance mask.

The reception at Scottish Parliament went well.  It was good to see
Harry McGrath – coordinator of the project again, along with his
photographer friend Graeme Murdoch.  They kept pulling me along to meet
their family members and some of the VIP dignataries such as:

  • Assistant High Commisioner of Canada, Claude Boucher – yes we spoke some french
  • Alex Fergussion MSP, Presiding Officer (Speaker of the House) – who co-hosted the event
  • Donald MacLeod of Victoria BC – who was a sponsor of the project

I met many other people such as:
a Canadian student in Edinburgh who's uncle in Coquitlam is proprietor of Roane's Top Quality Haggis
Calum Colvin – one of Edinburgh's top artists.
Linda Aberdeen, from Calgary, the organizer of Calgary Highland Games

I was introduced to the audience to good applause and as an example of cultural fusion, as an evolution and renewal of Scottish culture as it is shared and embraced by many people of different ethnicities.  It truly becomes an example of one of Robert Burns' most famous poems A Man's a Man for All That:

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

Hopefully, the exhibition can come tour
Canada and become a book with all the unused photos and video
interviews not used in the exhibition.

Stephen Quinn commented
on my “non-existant” Scottish accent. And to think I didna like or ken
Scots in Canada, when I was a wee bairn.

The reception finished at 8:30pm.

Pictures of the event are here on flickr:

Scotland - This is Who We Are: Scots in Canada

Scotland – This is Who We Are:…

After the reception, we next walked to Jenny Ha's Pub around the corner and up the street to celebrate and relax. 

But I had to go back to the Parliament building to do a radio interview back to CBC Radio One Vancouver for the ON THE COAST afternoon program with Stephen Quinn.  The phone reception was very good with no time delay.

Stephen asked me about my first visit to Scotland.  I replied it all feels somewhat familiar because I am finding street and place names that are the same such as Dundas St. or Buchanan St.  We talked a bit about the exhibition and how I had just met some Canadians here such as the organizer of the Calgary Highland Games and Chad – a student at the University of Edinburgh.  Chad wants to start a “Canadian Club” at the university and hopefully have a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner event for his friends to help celebrated Canada's multicultural fusion and “Canadianess”

Stephen also asked me about my “sypathetic” Scottish accent.  Yes… I am trying my best to fit in.

I am wearing my kilt about town.  I am meeting other kilt wearers – two of whom are also on the “X Marks the Scot” web forum. 

I am meeting Asians in Scotland.  Mostly they are students at the universities.  But one woman is an teacher of architecture in Glasgow.  Other people run Chinese restaurants in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.

More later….

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