Georgia Straight: Lunar New Year statutory holiday debated in B.C.

Should Lunar New Year be a BC Holiday?
Georgia Straight brings up the debate:

please read the link for the Georgia Straight article by Joanna Chiu

Georgia Straight: Lunar New Year statutory holiday debated in B.C.

Vancouver Chinatown Parade in 2010, led by Guang Kung – the patron saint of Chinese travelers – photo T. Wong.

Every now and then, I get asked if Chinese language should become an official language, or should Chinese New Year be a holiday?

For years, Robbie Burns Day and St. Patrick's Day… and Chinese New Year have all been celebrated in their own communities, and have been exclusively Scottish, Irish or Chinese…. but in the Vancouver's 21st Century, we are seeing them evolve as multicultural events.  When Celtic Fest started up the St. Patrick's Day Festival for 2005, they specifically asked me to put an entry in.  Vancouver Chinatown Parade has seen Brazilian dancers, South Asian Bangra Dancers, bagpipers and more.

Is cultural fusion, or inclusion the future of Vancouver festivals?

In 2005, SFU Recreation & Athletics department asked me to help them create an event to bring together the large Asian student population with the adopted Scottish Traditions of Simon Fraser University.  We created the SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival that featured “dragon cart racing” and “human curling” and lots of haggis eating. Participating students loved it.

Too bad that SFU administration and ceremonies canceled it, and the annual Burns ceremonies at the 3 SFU campuses for 2011 – citing “budgetary reasons”.  But come on… how much is a haggis, and a volunteer bagpiper?

I've always participated in the Vancouver St. Patrick's Day Parade, by adding a dragon boat, or Chinese dragon, but last year, it was St. Patrick's Day parade and Celtic Fest that was canceled due to the 2010 Winter Olympics.  Ironic that VANOC CEO John Furlong was himself born in Ireland.

Vancouver Chinatown parade was also almost canceled too, due to the Olympics.  But it was saved by moving up the parade start time, to allow for street security for an afternoon hockey game.

The Carnival Band always plays in the Chinatown parade.  Each year they dress up as the Chinese zodiac animal for the New Year.  2010 was the year of the tiger.  Expect them to dress up as rabbits for 2011.  They are an example of the many non-Chinese groups that take part in the annual Chinese New Year parade. – photo T.Wong

It would be interesting to see an event that would incorporate both Naroush and St. Patrick's Day. We could call it “Persian Irish Spring Festival”.

Personally, I also think that St. Patrick's Day and Robbie Burns Day should also be considered for holidays too.  And I initiated the 2008 City of Vancouver Proclamation of Tartan Day, April 6th, which was also passed in Canadian Parliament in 2010, to help celebrate and recognize Scottish contributions and heritage in Canada.

But I think priority for the next provincial and national holidays should be given to events that can bring diverse communities together in unity.  Thus a “Lunar New Year Festival” that ALL communities can participate in – NOT a “Chinese New Year” – but something that can also include Robbie Burns Day, and other cultural communities.  

A few years ago, I was asked to participate in a “Lunar New Year” event at Chief Maquinna Elementary School.  Many if not all of the schools cultural groups was represented and included.  I performed songs on my accordion, that were Italian, Chinese and Scottish in origin.  It was a great time for all the kids, who sang along to “When Asian/Irish Eyes Are Smiling” and “My Haggis Lies Over the Ocean, My Chow Mein Lies Over the Sea.”

And we should also recognize:
February 15th Flag Day – the day on which our Maple Leaf flag was unveiled in 1965 (much better than Cristy Clark's proposed “Family Day”.

November 19th Douglas Day – the day in 1858, which Governor James Douglas proclaimed the Crown Colony of British Columbia, in Ft. Langley – thus saving BC from very possible annexation to the United States.  Douglas himself was born in British Guyana to a Scottish father and a Creole Free Black mother.  His wife Amelia was Metis.  He is known as the “Father of British Columbia”

In 1858, He had a vision for a multicultural British Columbia, that was left unrealized by subsequent governors and premiers who succeeded at turning BC into a “White Man's Province”, enacting various legislations to restrict Non-White immigrants to BC, as well as deport Non-White Canadian born citizens, such as the Japanese-Canadian internment, dispersal and re-patriation policies.

Cheers, Todd

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