Monthly Archives: June 2010

Open House Canada Day at sites for The Land Conservancy of BC

The Land Conservancy of BC is hosting Canada Day events at some of his historic and important sites throughout BC.

Here is a list of events created by TLC Director of Operations Kathleen Shepherd.  I am on the board of TLC and have been involved with TLC, since they stepped in to partner with the Save Kogawa House campaign in 2005.

The Gorge Canada Day Picnic will include
Craigflower along with
other great things to do (and I’m sure, things to eat).

BC Binning House will be hosting their 2nd
Canada Day Open House:

For those in the Kootenays, TLC’s Associated Site,
SS Moyie will host Canada Day celebrations:

While not quite on Canada Day, Keating will open
for summer
teas on Sunday:

Abkhazi, Wildwood and Potholes are also open for
regular hours, check the TLC website for more information.

Happy Canada Day!

Nancy Lee at Joy Kogawa House, final event of the writing for Social Change reading series and Kogawa House writer-in-residence program

Nancy Lee reading and interview at Joy Kogawa House on Monday, June 28

Please RSVP at

The time with Nancy and her husband John has been a great experience, as she has brought her insightful thought, probing questions, and wonderful wit to Joy Kogawa House.  Additionally, she hosted a memoir writing workshop on Saturday June 26th.

Please join us for the in the intimate living room at Historic Joy Kogawa
House for the final event of a successful series of small salon gatherings with five writers who use
literature to call for social change and justice and as a tool for
social transformation.

Five Mondays (and a Sunday) This Spring

  1. Joan Macleod, Monday, April 19
  2. Anosh Irani, Sunday, May 2
  3. Steven Galloway, Monday, May 17
  4. Karen Connelly, Monday, June 14
  5. Nancy Lee, Monday, June 28
  • All conversations begin at 7:30 p.m. on a Monday, except the one
    with Anosh Irani, which begins at 3:30 p.m. on a Sunday.
  • Historic Joy Kogawa House is located in the Marpole
    neighbourhood of Vancouver at 1450 West 64th Avenue (two blocks east of
  • Admission by donation
  • Books will be available for sale and signing by the authors
  • Please RSVP at
  • Thanks to the Canada Council Author Reading and Author Residencies
    programs for funds to host these writers at Joy House

    My family elder is turning 100 years old

    My family elder was born in 1910, in Victoria BC.  

    They have lived through two world wars, and seen China change from an imperial dynasty, to a republic, to a communist state.

    They have witnessed the Chinese Head Tax era, and the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act. They welcomed 3 brothers home who served in WW2, after they were first denied the chance to fight for the country they were born in because they were Chinese.

    They were granted the right to finally vote at 37 years old, when the Chinese Exclusion Act was finally appealed in 1947 and franchise was granted to Canadians of Chinese ancestry – because up until then, they had been considered a “resident alien.” 

    They have watched the grand-children become a Miss Canada 2nd runner-up, a TV news reporter, a Calgary city councilor, and a recipient of the BC Community Achievement Award.

    They have appeared in an NFB documentary, a CBC television performance special, and CBC TV documentary about their grandfather and family descendant history.

    In 2007, they received an ex-gratia payment for Chinese Head Tax settlement, because their deceased husband had paid the head tax, prior to 1923.

    We must honour our family elders, who sacrificed and overcame so much.

    BC Highland Games this Saturday June 26 in Coquitlam

    BC Highland Games this Saturday June 26 in Coquitlam

    Here is the Scottish Express message, that has taken the
    torch from Ron MacLeod, to send out news emails about events in the Scottish-Canadian diaspora in the Vancouver area.  

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 marks the gathering of everyone that loves
    Scottish at the BC Highland Games.   It’s a day to come and listen to
    best piping and drumming, marvel at the dancing, stroll through the
    have a bite to eat and immerse yourself in Scottish charm, goodwill and
    fun!!  more details below

    The BC Highland Games

    Saturday June 26, 2010,  Percy Perry Stadium, Coquitlam

    15 Piping
    bands including the World Champion Simon Fraser University Band

    Highland Dancing Competitors

    30 Heavy
    Event Competitors (these are the caber tossers)

    30 Venders
    (with all sorts of food and items galore with a Scottish twist)

    21 Scottish
    Clans and Societies

    Plenty of
    rides and activities for the children

    And 16

    Yes, again
    this year those mythical Haggis will be hiding throughout the stadium
    for the wildest hunt you have ever seen. 
    Spot enough and you become an Official Haggis Hunter!  They are elusive,
    fast, and can usually
    be found lurking around Tartan.

    Games are about competition and we are happy to report some of the best
    dancers, drummers, pipers and throwers are back to defend their titles. 
    The caliber of sport is exhilarating!

    entertainment this year includes the Jocelyn Petit Band and Blackthorn. 
    Both will be playing on the main
    stage.  They are the best of our
    local talent and showcase our deep talent pool here in BC.

    The Beer
    Tent, British Car Show, Whisky Tasting, Sword Dancing, Cultural Tent and
    even a
    second Beer Tent are back!!

    Gung Haggis races in B Division and receives Silver Medals for Senior B Race

    Gung Haggis dragon boat team had their BEST placing at the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival ever.
    DSC_9604_156548 - Sarah Blyth & Todd Wong by 

    Parks Commissioner Sarah Blyth was named Honorary Drummer for the 2010
    Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team – photo Patrick Tam

    We raced for medals in the Rec B Finals – making 6th place.

    Our path was paved with friendly rivalries, beating our friends Metro Vancouver 44 Cheeks in the morning semi-finals, and just one second ahead of our friends Flight Centre Dirty Oars in the Rec B Final.

    Gung Haggis paddlers were seen sporting silver medals from the Senior B 49+ years age category race.  We put together Gung Haggis Friends including other paddlers from 44 Cheeks, Crusaders, Pirates, Ft. Langley and Swordfish + drummer from Killarney.  We were second to Masters of D'Zone who were 12 seconds ahead of us and a Comp A ranked team.

    Other news:  The Killarney Cougar Dragons won Bronze medals in Junior C Division, coached by Gung Haggis paddlers Todd and Steven Wong.  Killarney's teacher sponsor is Gung Haggis alumni Stuart Mackinnon.

    Congratulations to all racers!

    Gung Haggis dragon boat team paddles well for Saturday at Rio Tinto Alcan Festival: Gung Haggis Friends paddles to 2nd place in Senior B category


    our rookies performed well… thanks to Jennifer, Gena, Adam, Evan and Carson.
    can tell they are rookies anymore, as they are now experienced at North
    America's biggest and best dragon boat Festival.  Great kudos to
    Captains Jim, Keng, Steven and drummer Debbie.

    We welcome Parks Commissioner Sara Blyth as our honourary drummer for 2010.  Sara came out to cheer our 2nd race, and hopefully will be there for our race final tomorrow afternoon.

    Congratulations to our senior B racers in the 49+ years category.
    Keng, Joy, Georgia, Steven, Joe, Gayle, Dave Samis + friends from
    Pirates, Chilliwack Crusaders, Metro Vancouver 44 Cheeks, Ft. Langley
    all raced to 2nd place.  Yay paddlers! 

    Our first race is 10:10   REC B/C Final

    2nd race will be determined by our placment in the semi-final.
    We would love to be in the Rec B Medal hunt,
    We are seeded high in lane 4 – so we are a favored team.

    1st and 2nd go to B Medal Final     2:03pm
    3rd and 4th go to B Consolation   1:52pm
    5th and 6th go to C Final                 1:41pm

    Join us afterwards, and we can watch
    the Comp team finals, and the Guts & Glory Race, 18 boats on the
    course, doing 2 laps with 3 turns.

    Gung Haggis dragon boat team racing Saturday 10am then betwen 1:50 and 4pm

    Dragon Boat Festival Race times for Gung Haggis dragon boat team on Saturday

    Hello friends and official members of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team cheering squad.

    New team shirts available for cheering squad!

    Here are confirmed race times for June 19th, Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

    #12 10am Gung Haggis in Mixed Adult Division
    #23 @ 12:22 Senior B 49+ Race as Gung Haggis Friends

    then… sometime in the in afternoon…
    On Saturday – we will introduce our Honourary Drummer for 2010 to the team, and race our 2nd race of the day!

    #31 @ 1:50 – if we place 5th in our 1st race #12
    #33 @ 2:12 – if we place 6th
    #41 @ 3:40 – if we place 3rd
    #43 @ 4:01 – if we place 4th

    races will be determined by overall times. Expect us to be in Rec
    B/C/D/E semi-final, then hopefully into the Rec B or Rec C medal final.

    Todd Wong and Steven Wong are also coaching the Killarney Junior dragon boat team.

    Race #6 – 8:55am

    Race 26 @ 12:55 if they finish 3rd, in Race #6
    #27 @ 1:06 if they finish 4th

    Gung Haggis dragon boat team is ready for upcoming Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

    Gung Haggis dragon boat team practiced hard on the last Sunday before the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

    Here is video from out last Sunday's practice.


    Everybody who came out is paddling hard. 

    Our final practice before Festival is this Tuesday – tomorrow.

    The June 19/20 Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival is the largest dragon boat festival in North America.

    Tuesday we had a great race winning against GVRD 44 Cheeks – who
    usually beats us, and the previous Sunday, we placed in A Division for
    the first time at Dragon Zone regatta, and on May 1st, we placed in the
    top division at Lotus Regatta… which leads me to think this could be
    our best Gung Haggis dragon boat team ever.

    We've worked hard to develop this year's team. 
    We have amazing rookies.  We have wonderful veterans.  We are looking
    to improve on last year's results.  We have been working hard to
    prepare the team for technique, endurance,
    strength and working together. These are all things paddlers said they
    wanted to improve on.

    We are also applied to enter
    extra races in Dragon Zone race, and age category race, so our paddlers
    get more races and opportunities to have extra medals.

    Vancouver Opera closes 50th season with colourful Madama Butterfly

    Vancouver Opera's current production of Madama Butterfly is a showcase for the 21st Century.

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    Vancouver Opera Concert Master Mark Ferris smiles during the intermission.  Mark has told me before that he likes Puccini, “
    Mozart operas can be so
    finicky, but Puccini is very deep.” he told me for the 2005 production of Turandot.

    Vancouver Opera has done a delightful job of bringing Madama Butterfly through the racism and political correctness of the 20th Century, truly into a post-colonial 21st century – ideal for the emerging intercultural global city of Vancouver, and hot on the heels of one of the Winter Olympics.  It's a wonderful way to close out it's 50th Anniversary season, with one of the world's most popular operas, even though it recently performed it both in 2004 and
    a few years before that.

    The music is timeless, the performances are strong,  But more
    importantly, it is a showcase on how far opera has become both a global
    art form and technologically advanced since Madama Butterfly's 1906
    debut in Italy.  Vancouver Opera has brought together the most Asian singers in lead and supporting roles; Mihoko Kinoshita (Cio-Cio-San) from Japan, Joseph Hu (Goro) from Taiwan, and Zheng Cao (Suzuki) from USA along with Japanese-born Japanese-American set designer Jun Kaneko.

    Kaneko's work is primarily as a sculptor and painter.  He was commissioned to create a set design for Opera Omaha's Madama Butterfly production in 2006.  It is a minimalist design with a raked stage and concentric circles, but it is full of colourful banners, kimonos and umbrellas in the in first act.  The set design also includes the use of video projection, with abstract and minimalist designs.  It never overpowers the singing, but helps to convey emotions, as if they were colour field paintings by Mark Rothko.

    In decades past, Madama Butterfly suffered as an example of colonial attitudes.  It is the sad story of a young Japanese teenage bride, that is married and abandoned by an American Naval officer.  Lt. B.J, Pinkerton, strongly performed by American James Valenti, easily conveys the cavalier attitude of a man who is captivated by the exotic beauty of an Asian woman, but still believes he will return to America to marry an “American wife.”

    Cio-Cio-San is convincingly performed by Japan's Mihoka Kinoshita making her Vancouver Opera debut in the title role.  Her butterfly's singing is light, and the necessary innocence is conveyed when she duets with Valenti.  As well, Cio-Cio-San's duet with her maid Suzuki (Zheng Cao) is beautiful and received generous applause from the audience.  Suzuki conveys the strong loyalty and support to keep Butterfly happy both in the first act of her marriage to Pinkerton, and the second act, after she is abandoned, and they become increasingly poorer.

    Joseph Hu's Goro, is a sneaky matchmaker, and I thought I could see movement elements of Chinese Opera villainry as he played up to both Pinkerton and Prince Yamadori.

    Opera is essentially a Western European art form, and over the years, it titillated its audience with stories of exotic places, set in foreign lands, such as Puccini's “Turandot” in Old Peking, or Rossini's “Italian Girl in Algiers,” or in Bizet's “Pearl Fishers” set in Ceylon. Puccini achieved all of this with Madama Butterfly but combined it with and incredible score, a simple straightforward story of love and yearning, that oozes emotion.  The aria “Un Bel Dei” / “One Fine Day” is one of opera's most famous arias.

    Does it make a difference to have Asian singers in the correct ethnic principal roles, even while Vancouver native Andrew Greenwood plays Prince Yamadori?  I think it does.  Vancouver is a global city with large populations of Chinese, Korean, Filipino and Japanese populations.  By having principals cast as Asians, Vancouver Opera sends out an important message.  They recognize the importance of both recognizing and respecting their Asian-Canadian audience – which is the largest growing demographic ethnicity in the region.

    Years ago, I saw Vancouver Opera's production of Turandot, which while set in “Peking” did not feature any Asians in principal roles. While I stated that “it didn’t matter how accurately reflective of Chinese
    a Persian tale set in Peking was… I found it emotionally rewarding to see this new Madama Butterfly having so much Asian representation both in principal roles and in set design.   See my review: Vancouver Opera's Turandot: a Canadian production of an Italian Opera of a Persian fable set in Peking China

    Vancouver Opera has another winner for its half-century.  Aside from the excellence in musicianship, performances, the  set design and direction really work to pull it altogether.

    See my 2004 review Madama Butterfly Review: Vancouver Opera Nov 27 to Dec 11

    Check out the Manga cartoon specially designed for this production!

    Italian Day on Commercial Drive

    Everybody's Italian on Commercial Drive for Italian Days.

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    I saw this fellow singing and playing electronic accordion.  I want one!

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    Wonderful singing in Italian from Italian operas – I want to bring my accordion and return next year with some Asian Canadian musician friends and perform our repertoire of Italian songs and arias.  We could call ourselves Ital-Asians Romanza!

    2010_June_Italian_Day 029

    Mike Lombardi, Vancouver School Trustee and Library Board – with some of the volunteers from the Italian Cultural Centre.  I once played O Solo Mio on my accordion for Mike.  He loved it!

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    One of my favorite places on the Drive for gelato and coffees.

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    There was a pasta eating contest.  This little fellow got great mouthfuls… but he didn't win.

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    Outside the Portuguese Club, they paid special attention to the bbq herring.

    2010_June_Italian_Day 020
    But the line-up was longer for the bbq roasted half-chickens – check out this video.

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    Not everybody is DNA-Italian – but the Asian restaurants, Greek places, and even the Caribbean restaurants all go in the action.  Here is a DJ and sound system blasting reggae tunes.