Creating the First Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner to celebrate First Nations, Scottish and Chinese pioneer history in BC

Scottish and Chinese pioneer history in BC mixes with First Nations:

What if the first Scottish Pioneers celebrated Robbie Burns Day with their First Nations hosts, and the Chinese carpenters they had brought wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year too?

Todd Wong and Shelagh Rogers, 2004 Christmas Eve morning at CBC Studio One.  Shelagh
is holding the brand new 2005 Gung Haggis Fat Choy poster that features
her name as special co-host.

Here's an idea that I have discussed with my friend Shelagh Rogers, legendary CBC broadcaster.  She has been working on reconciliation issues between Aboriginals and non-aboriginals for the past while.  One day she asked me about creating a similar event to Gung Haggis Fat Choy, which brings together the Scottish tradition of Robbie Burns Day, and (con)fuses it with Chinese New Year Dinner tradition.  I simply said “How about a Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner?”

I have long appreciated First Nations traditions, history and culture.  I have traveled to Haida Gwaii, Alert Bay and Kyuoquot Sound.  I am blessed to have many friends who have shared their First Nations history and culture with me, especially my mother's cousin Rhonda Larrabee, Chief of Qayqayt First Nations, and her daughter Shelly who accompanied me at my first Pow Wow event this past summer in Squamish territory in North Vancouver.  This past October, I took part in the “Paddle for Wild Salmon” that paddled down the Fraser River stopping at First Nations Villages from Hope to Chilliwack, and onto Katzie, New Westminster and Musqueam.

Shelagh Rogers was being interviewed for CBC Radio's “As It Happens” for a story about her appointment to Officer of the Order of Canada.
  The Governor General's website states she is being named “For her contributions as a promoter of Canadian culture, and for her volunteer work in the fields of mental health and literacy”  She just sent this Facebook message:

Todd Wong, YOU Rawk! And hey–I talked about the GHFCPW
on As It Happens. It will be on right after the 7pm news!

all makes sense… Chinese have documented Fou Sang, a legendary land
East of China since 5th Century.  A buddhist monk is said to have visited Fou Sang, and documented his trip. 

The Songhees Nation website documents Scottish and Chinese as being the first non-aboriginal resident and first permanent residents.

John Mackay becomes B.C.'s first known, non-aboriginal resident,
spending a year with Chief Maquinna, at Nootka Sound.

trader John Meares establishes a base at Nootka Sound. He leaves a
shore-party, including 30 Chinese carpenters, to build the first
ocean-going commercial ship in these waters. The Chinese carpenters are
abandoned, a year later, becoming the first permanent immigrants to B.C.
Their fate is unknown.

Shelagh and I have decided that Vancouver
Island will be site of the soon-to-be-legendary inaugural Gung Haggis
Fat Choy Pow Wow Dinner. Limited seating – invitation only… (so call
me if you want to come!) We will share their pioneer
family histories as my great-great grandfather was a Chinese methodist
minister on Vancouver Island, and my mom's cousin is Chief Rhonda
Larrabee of Qayqayt First Nations. Shelagh has recently discovered her
First Nations (Cree) heritage, and has long celebrated her family's Scottish

This Gung Haggis Pow Wow Dinner will not be the same kind of extravaganza as the present 400+ people Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year dinner at the Floata Dinner, with a 10 piece pipes and drums band, lots of poets and musicians, and multi-media presentations.   Instead I will try to replicate the initial smaller Gung Haggis dinners when the first Gung Haggis dinner was in a living room with 16 people, and the first public restaurant dinner for 40 people.  Shelagh's Reconciliation dinner events have been pot luck dinners where people are encouraged to share and speak.  For the first Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, guests were all invited to make contributions that were musical, poetical or culinary.

What will happen?  We will each be inviting friends to be guests.  Some of the friends are known for the musical, poetical or oratorial skills.

It's going to be interesting.

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