Monthly Archives: May 2010

Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop Community Dinner

Asian Canadian Writer's Workshop Community Dinner

May 29th Saturday
Reception 6pm
Dinner 7pm

We will celebrate the book launch of Henry Chow and Other Stories
Henry Chow cover

We will honour community builders:

Marty Chan, playwright, author and writer for radio and tv.

Marty is best known as a playwright for Mom, Dad, I'm Living With a White Girl as well as writing for CBC Radio's Dim Sum Diaries and appearing in CBC TV's Jake and the Kid.  He is also the writer of a series of young adult novels.

Tradewind Books – publishers Michael Katz and Carol Frank

Michael Katz and Carol Frank have published many children and youth books addressing cultural diversity.  Titles include Abby's Birds, The Jade Necklace, Bamboo, What Happened This Summer and Henry Chow.  The Bone Collector's Son, by Paul Yee, is the only Children's book to receive the Vancouver Book Prize.

Both have made significant contributions to the Asian Canadian literary community.

Past recipients of ACWW Community Awards are:
Roy Mah, Wayson Choy, Paul Yee, Harvey Lowe, Roy Miki, Fred Wah, The Bulletin (National Association of Japanese Canadians), Joy Kogawa, Scott McIntyre and Gim Wong.

To attend the dinner, please RSVP
as seating is limited

For more information contact:

Todd Wong, ACWW vice-president

Chinese Laundry Kids @ Friends of Foo's Ho Ho dinner event

Chinese Laundry Kids grow up to be writers, professors and community activists:

Friends of Foo's Ho Ho launches another successful event combining Chinese Canadian history with local cuisine and issues of the global Chinese diaspora.  When Committee member Elwin Xie discovered that author Judy Fong Bates was coming to speak at UBC, and that she was reading from her memoir about growing up in a chinese laundry – a light must have gone off.

Elwin quickly remembered that retired psychology professor Dr. John Jung had expressed interest in coming to speak to the Friends of Foo's Ho Ho committee, after learning about their effort to save Vancouver Chinatown's last restaurant serving pioneer style Cantonese cuisine.  A community activist with an interest in Vancouver's Chinese Canadian history, Elwin had also ordered books by Dr. Jung about Chinese restaurants and laundries.  It turned out that like Judy Fong Bates, Dr. Jung had also grown up in a Chinese laundry – but instead of Canada, Dr. Jung had grown up in Macon, Georgia – deep in the American South.  Elwin's interest was keen, because he had grown up at the Union Laundry, owned and operated by his parents in Vancouver.

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Event host Todd Wong, with featured guests Dr. John Jung, Judy Fong Bates and Elwin Xie.

Guests began arriving at the 6pm reception time. Books by Dr. Jung and Ms. Bates were for sale, and the authors were set up to sign copies for the evening's patrons.

The event started off with a 10 minute film about Chinese laundries in the United States.  This really helped set the tone for the evening, showing pictures of laundries, the laundry machines, and even some of the racist cartoons and songs of the times.  

Soon the first appetizer dish of deep-fried squid, pork and chicken wings arrived. Yum Yum, some good food to accompany the hearty conversations that filled the upstairs banquet hall.

Elwin Xie was the first speaker.  He gave a power point presentation with pictures of his family's laundry that included himself as a little child.  He described how he was encouraged to climb into the giant washing machines to find coins, only to figure out many years later that he was “exploited” because of his small size.

Dr. John Jung was the second speaker.  He also had a power point presentation that featured pictures of both Chinese laundries and restaurants from across North America. It was really interesting to hear how he grew up in the only Chinese family in Macon Georgia.  An especially amusing story was how the family became media stars one day.  In 1943, they were asked to come out and attend a media photo opportunity with Madame Chiang Kai Shek, the First Lady of China, came to visit Macon.  As the only Chinese family, they had been invited to help welcome the wife of the Taiwanese leader, who had grown up and attended Wesleyan women's college in Macon, before marrying Chiang Kai Shek.

My role as the evening's emcee, was to make sure the presentations flowed smoothly and try to keep the evening running on time.  With John's stories, it was a good way to illustrate that no matter where Chinese had settled in Canada, USA or even Scotland, their stories all had universal themes.  As John had talked about the influence of the Church during his growing up, I shared that my own family was descended from two Chinese Methodist missionaries Rev. Chan Sing Kai and Rev. Chan Yu Tan.  While Yu Tan stayed in Canada and ministered in Vancouver, New Westminster, Victoria and Nanaimo, his elder brother had ministered in Oregon and Nevada, before settling in the Los Angeles area.  Similar to John discovering that he had distant relatives operating a Chinese restaurant in Sasketchewan, my grand mother's cousin Dennis ran a restaurant in Prince Albert SK.  John had even seen the CBC documentary about Dennis' daughter Janice Wong, returning to Prince Albert to sign copies of her book CHOW, about growing up in the restaurant.

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Judy Fong Bates reads from her memoir “The Year of Finding Memory”

Judy Fong Bates was the final speaker of the evening.  She remarked how a friend had described the evening's program as “sexy”!  Judy read from her memoir about how her family had come to Canada, and how she had grown up.  Like John and Elwin before her, she also commented about the racism against Chinese that had permeated the social issues of the day, and how growing up in a laundry also had a stigmatism.

It was a wonderful evening with an appreciative audience.  The evening had unfolded with discovered stories that one attendee had had his wedding banquet at Foo's Ho Ho Restaurant 38 years ago.  Another woman, my Aunty Sue, was also a Chinese Laundry Kid, with her family involved with Keefer Laundry in Vancouver.


Photo Library - 2905 by you.

Toasts, Roasts, Music & Dance
been an incredible 50 years with many highlights from a Terry Fox Run
in Beijing to a photo exhibit in Scotland and many things in between
(cancer survival, Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners, TV documentaries and
dragon boat festivals). Please come share stories and friendship with
music, food and drink.

Admission by Donation for Historic Kogawa House Society
By Invitation Only – Private Event

Friday May 14, 7-10:30 pm
PAL Theatre – Performing Arts Lodge
300-581 Cardero Street @ Hastings
8th Floor Theatre, lobby and rooftop garden
Admission by Donation

Photo Library - 2904

lieu of gifts – donations accepted for Historic Joy Kogawa House
Society. We saved Obasan author, Joy Kogawa’s childhood home from
demolition in 2005 & 2006. In 2007, we received the City of
Vancouver Heritage Award of Honour, and saw our dreams become reality
with a writer-in-residence program in 2009. Now we need to restore the
house and continue to build the writing programs.) Tax receipts
available – call The Land Conservancy of BC, Tamsin Baker (604)
733-2313 or bring your cheque to THE PARTY!
Donations will be split 50/50 between writing programs and restorations – unless specified otherwise.

Look for the Scotia Bank sign on Cardero St.
and the PAL awning on the west side of the street.
very distinctive.
Volunteers will be in the lobby to show you to the 8th floor.
if not – a sign should print my cell phone #, and we will send somebody down to greet you.

I am hosting so will provide beer & wine and non-alcoholic drinks + appies.
is a challenge to my bank account – but I would like to be able to give
you all a drink! contributions are accepted – if we run out, we will
have to send people on a store run. (any scotch should be brown bagged)

parking is metered… Cheapest parking lot is East side of Cardero,
near the Bayshore $6 per evening or at corner of Georgia and Cardero
beside White Spot. $12 in the actual PAL building which is used by the
Bayhore Hotel.

MUSIC and Performances
Everything is a surprise… I don't even know what's happening.
there will be a list, if you would like to perform, recite a poem, or
make a toast / roast. We will try to keep things moving, and will HOOK
people if they go too long, mumble and say inappropriate things.
Children are expected to be present, and we expect all performers to be
outstanding community role models.

Photo Library - 2909 by you.

Todd's birthday agenda

My birthday was actually yesterday.
Busy day considering I did nothing.

Deb took me out for Birthday Eve supper Ciao Bella Restaurant Davie & Alberni St.

Morning:  Went to work with Deb – as we are using the PAL Theatre
(Performing Arts Lodge) where she works for my 50th Birthday party this

9:30am – meet Dad for breakfast – go to Denny's for free breakfast

11am – do some reading 3rd book of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Millenium Triology

2:30 – go to Lynn Valley – walk across Suspension Bridge

4pm – go for haircut @ 2nd St. & Lonsdale

6-7:30pm – Coach Gung Haggis dragon boat team

7:30pm – Birthday Party at paddler's condo near Science World

9pm – watch Canucks lose… then surprised with Dairy Queen frozen
strawberry cheesecake with candles “5” and “0” burning bright.

Drink more beer and cider.

Gung Haggis dragon boat team places 5th overall at Lotus Sports Club's “Bill Alley Memorial” dragon boat regatta

Gung Haggis dragon boat team goes to Burnaby and places 5th in the top final at the Bill Alley Memorial Dragon Boat Regatta.

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Gung Haggis dragon boat team gets ready for their first race of the season, as they paddled to the start line.   photo T.Wong

It was an exciting day of dragon boat racing, as the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team opened their race season at the Lotus Sports Club's Bill Alley Memorial Dragon Boat Regatta, Saturday, May 1st, 2010, at the Barnet Marine Park in Burnaby.

Weather threatened rain in the morning, but sunny periods turned to full sunshine by mid afternoon.  Winds and tides picked up in the afternoon to make racing more challenging.

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team won both of their first heats to advance to the top division final – The Bill Alley Division, above the gold, silver, bronze and jade divisions.  This was the first time the Gung Haggis team has advanced to the top division.  As well, the team competed in the Mixed Adult A Challenge race.  Gung Haggis came 5th in both race finals.

Great racing, and Great team work!
Everybody worked well together off and on the water.

Lots of challenges for today's weather, waves, and new team mates. 

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Gung Haggis paddlers line up for the first race of the day!
See more pictures: click here

Congratulations to our ROOKIES!
you havenow been baptized by the waves of Barnet Marine Park.
Jennifer, Gena, Adam, Evan Resnick, Evan Pownall.
Great racing – all of you!

Thank you to our steers people Dave and Steven – keeping us on track as usual.

you to our captains Jim and Steven – making the line-ups, getting us
into the top 5, and the wonderful leadership on and off the boat.

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“One finger lift to the sky” – Gung Haggis paddlers lift rookie lead stroke Jennifer up into the air, in a Gung Haggis dragon boat team tradition. – photo D.Martin

Special thank yous to our paddlers who helped with the
dragon parade, and the lion dance.  Over $300 was raised for the Lotus
Juniors “Bill Alley Memorial scholarship fund.”  I did know Bill – who
was one of the founding members of Lotus Club.  A few years ago, he was
hit by a car on Barnett Hwy.  His widow Barb helped us load the boats. 

We are grateful and appreciate our long time friendship with
Lotus Sports Club.  Steven's uncle and brother were founding members. 
Dave Samis is a club member and has brought Nancy, Debbie, Walter and
Christine to paddle outrigger canoes with Lotus.  My first dragon boat
coach in 1993, is Grace Morrisette – one of the race organizers.

Grace and Jane – event organizers sent us this message.

Todd Wong and Gung Haggis – we want you to know that it was very
special to have your dragon dance and the
torch passing
at our event this
Our junior
teams had a lot of fun
participating in the dragon dance and
they would also like you to know how much they appreciated your contribution to
their scholarship fund.
You are a
very wonderful group of paddling friends and we wish you much success in
your races this year,
Grace and Jane

Review: Etch-YOUR-Sketch-OFF

VACT's Etch-YOUR-Sketch-OFF presents new teams for new Asian-Canadian sketch comedies!

special to

by Michael Brophy

Thursday night I attended an event put on by Vancouver Asian
Canadian Theater which is organized by Joyce Lam. She is the original
creator and producer of the Etch-YOUR-SketchOFF comedy show who has
recently been honored with the BC Community Achievement Award for her
work in shaping our provinces theatrical community.

Host of the show, Tom Chin, related his witty observations on the
lifestyles of the stereotypical aspiring Asian lawyer, dentist, or
doctor and disclosed “what happens to Asians that don't make it to med
school”. With a piercing “Aiyya!” Tom introduced the first group SFUU
MAN CHU which promised the most value for ones dollar during these hard
economic times by presenting “one sketch for every dollar spent”.

Banana Drama, winner of this years People Choys Awards, began with a
sketch bringing light to our North American dependence on all things
made in China by stripping a young man of all his Chinese made clothing
until left wearing only a skimpy man-kini — more male nudity ensued as
a comedic theme of the night.

New teams to the sketch-off scene include
Beef Noodle Soup, a two man group that presented bi-curious characters
wanking to an image of Gordon Campbell, had the audience cringing with
muffled laughter. Asians Bleed Red, also a new addition to the theater,
did a well choreographed dance to the tune of “Domo Arrigato, Mr.

One of my personal favorite groups this year and a 2008
recipient of the Rice Bowl Prize had Simon Yang of The Yangtzers
performing a contemporary dance with a hoover vacuum revealing the
eroticism between one man and his servile machine. Other gut-busting notables Angry Asian
Men and Laughing Make Mind Damage helped make it clear that Asian North
Americans have come a long way in comedy from the likes of William
Hungs short lived career as an entertainer. 

My night with the V.A.C.T.
crew was capped with an after-party that took place at Earls in
Yaletown which had members of the audience and actors in the sketch-off
socializing well past midnight. I would highly recommend attending if
you haven't in the past years. This annual event is always brimming
with a culturally diverse humor that resonates the funny bone with
gratuitous displays of raunchy buffoonery.