Monthly Archives: March 2011

Gary Locke is nominated by Obama to be US Ambassador to China

Locke, is nominated by Obama to be Ambassador to China. 

 President Obama nominates Gary Locke as the next U.S. Ambassador to China.

I have always had an interest in watching Gary Locke, former Washington State Senator.  He has been the highest ranking Chinese-American in politics.
I am related –
because Gary's cousin Paul married my grandmother's cousin, who is my
Auntie Carol, whom I have often visited in Seattle.  Sometimes Auntie Carol would tell me about the election results.  She was always happy and supportive, as she had also been an administrative assistant for Gary Locke.

It's a proud moment for Asian-Americans, but Locke
criticized for being both “Too Asian” and “Too American” for others…
raising issues about race, national identity and patriotism – in both
China and the USA. Locke's grandfather immigrated to the US over a
century ago and Locke, a Yale graduate, has done much to help advance
Asian-Americans and the civil rights movement.

Here's some interesting stories about Gary Locke

Ambassador nominee raises strong emotions in China

Former Chinese ambassador expects Locke to better bridge China-U.S. relations

Here's a good history on Gary Locke

Montreal Gazette: Maple Leaf Tartan made official symbol of Canada

I like the Maple Leaf Tartan kilt….

It was the first polyviscous kilt I had made, with each of the colours of the maple leaf interwoven in green, golden yellow and red.  I would wear it on Canada Day, and to the Order of Canada luncheons organized by the Canadian Club Vancouver.

Now… the Canadian Government… has made the unofficial symbol of Canada into an official symbol of Canada.  Last year they recognized Tartan Day, to help celebrate Scottish heritage in Canada – this year they recognize the Maple Leaf tartan as an official symbol of Canada.

Read the Montreal Gazette story below. 

Maple Leaf Tartan made official symbol of

The Maple Leaf Tartan, inspired by the shifting hues of autumn 
leaves, was announced Wednesday to have become Canada's national tartan 
and also an “official symbol” of the nation itself.

Maple Leaf Tartan, inspired by the shifting hues of autumn leaves, was
announced Wednesday to have become Canada's national tartan and also an
“official symbol” of the nation itself.

Julie Oliver, Ottawa Citizen

The Canadian government has pre-empted a Liberal senator's
crusade to have Maple Leaf Tartan declared the country's official
Scottish cloth, announcing Wednesday that the distinctive green-and-red
pattern — inspired by the shifting hues of autumn leaves — has not only
been made the national tartan but also an “official symbol” of the
nation itself.

The designation means the tartan — designed
in 1964 by Toronto garment maker David Weiser ahead of Canada's
centennial celebrations — will join the flag, the coat of arms, the
beaver and a handful of other objects as state-sanctioned emblems of
Canada, according to a statement issued by Heritage Minister James

“The Maple Leaf Tartan has been worn proudly and
enjoyed by Canadians for decades, but has never been elevated to the
level of an official symbol — until now,” said Moore. “Our national
symbols express our identity and define our history. The Maple Leaf
Tartan represents the contributions that the more than four million
Canadians of Scottish heritage continue to make to our country.”

Conservative government's declaration comes less than a week after
Liberal Senator Elizabeth Hubley, of P.E.I., gave a speech urging
support for her proposed legislation, Bill S-226, to make Maple Leaf
Tartan the official national tartan.

“The Maple Leaf Tartan
has been Canada's unofficial national tartan for many years,” she said
last Thursday. “It is time to recognize the rich contribution Canadians
of Scottish descent have made to this country by adopting a national
tartan for Canada, which can be worn by every Canadian, regardless of
their ancestry, as a symbol of national pride.”

office initially expressed “shock” at Wednesday's announcement. And in
comments to Postmedia News following the government's statement, Hubley
pointed to “eerie similarities” between Moore's declaration and her own
expressions of support for the Maple Leaf Tartan last week in the

“I am pleased the government has been listening,”
she said. “And if you read the wording of the press release, there are
eerie similarities to my second-reading speech from last Thursday.”

also raised doubts about whether a simple announcement from the
government had the weight of legislation — duly passed by Parliament —
to declare the Maple Leaf Tartan an official emblem of Canada. “A press
release from a cabinet minister is not sufficient to create a national

Wednesday's announcement by the government made no
mention of Hubley's bill, but included comments from Conservative
Senator John Wallace, of New Brunswick, who recently spearheaded an
effort to have the government formally recognize April 6 as National
Tartan Day.

“The tartan is one of the most visual
expressions of Scottish heritage and culture,” Wallace said in
Wednesday's statement. “Making the Maple Leaf Tartan an official symbol
of Canada highlights the many significant contributions that people of
Scottish heritage have made to the founding of Canada.”

the Maple Leaf Tartan appears to have become an unexpected symbol of
political partisanship, both the Liberals and Conservatives do have
legitimate prior claims to being champions of the patriotic plaid.

2006, former Liberal MP John Matheson — a key player in the political
battle that led to the adoption of Canada's Maple Leaf flag in 1965 —
urged that the government adopt a national tartan as a readily
recognized “signal” to be displayed by Canadians of all ethnic stripes
to show that they “care about a united Canada.”

In 2008,
Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney (who has since added immigration
to his cabinet portfolio) announced that he had officially registered
the Maple Leaf Tartan with the Scottish Tartan Authority in Edinburgh to
secure exclusive rights for the pattern for the Canadian government.

Government of Canada recognizes the many ways in which Scottish culture
and tradition have contributed to the strength of our communities,”
Kenney said at the time. “Scottish tartans are a wonderful symbol of
cohesion: each plaid, with its blend of different colours and patterns
represents a family, a region, an organization, or a nation.”

2006, after Matheson had launched his campaign for a national tartan,
the Globe and Mail reported that documents released under Access to
Information showed federal Heritage officials were giving the proposal
serious consideration.

One memo noted that Weiser's Maple
Leaf Tartan had been “greeted with wide acclaim” in the 1960s and was
already considered an unofficial national tartan by many Canadians.

notes indicated that “the use of tartan by non-Scottish or Celtic
peoples has dramatically expanded around the world” and reflected a
“more multicultural reality.”

But the documents also
contained a caution that “the notion of a national tartan might have
little resonance with Canada's multicultural communities, given its
traditional association with Scottish and British heritage.”

to the website of Canadian Heritage, 11 of the 13 provinces and
territories have their own official tartans, while Quebec has popular
design that is widely — though unofficially — used to symbolize the
province. Nunavut is not mentioned on the site.

Canadian government also recognizes the maple tree as the country's
“national arboreal emblem,” the beaver as its official animal symbol and
red and white as Canada's official colours.

Vancouver Sun: Celtic Fest plumbs culture roots… Todd Wong mentioned

Vancouver Sun: Celtic Fest plumbs culture roots.
Great preview story in Vancouver Sun, Thursday March 10th.

Todd Wong is hosting the Afro-Celtic Dance Party on March 18th, Friday at the Edgewater Casino.  This is going to be a fantastic event as the performers are great.  Imagine putting high energy jigs and reels together with hypnotic African drum rhythms.

I am really excited that African guitarist and singer Alpha Yaya Diallo is involved.  He is going to be creating something wonderful with fiddler Stephanie Cadman and accordionist Amy Stephen.  I have always loved Amy's accordion work with Mad Pudding and Jou Tou.

Here is the excerpt from the Celticfest program:
AfroCeltic Dance Party March 18 at the Stadium Club at Edgewater Casino
A night made for dancing!
thrilling cross-cultural mash-up, as brilliant musicians and dancers
fuse the intoxicating grooves of Celtic and African music. It’s one
rhythm-filled night just made for dancing. If you caught the CelticSalsa
spirit in ’09, this is the show for you!

Alpha-Yaya-Diallo Artists include Alpha Yaya Diallo, Amy Stephen, Boris Favre & Allan Dionne (formerly of Mad Pudding), Stephanie Cadman, Boris Sichon, African dancer N’Nato Camera, and powerhouse percussionist Yoro Noukoussi.

to this Vancouver Sun story, about Celticfest… I now play bagpipes???
NOT!!! But… for CelticFest, I am hosting the Afro-Celtic Dance Party
on March 18th (NOT the 19th as printed)…. And I do now play Scottish
& Irish tunes on my accordion with the Black Bear Rebels celtic
ceilidh ensemble

Vancouverites worth their wellies will recognize what comedian Hal
Roach was saying when he declared of his homeland: “You know it's summer
in Ireland when the rain gets warmer.” Apart from our strikingly
similar weather, there are plenty of connections between Canada's Wet
Coast and Ireland's Wet Everything, especially now that the economic
meltdown back home has many young Irish men and women seeking a new
future here.

The buildup to St. Patrick's Day in Vancouver used to
consist of circling March 17 on the calendar and wearing something
green that's clean and ready to spill a drink on. Since CelticFest
arrived in 2004, however, booze takes a back seat.

“We try to stay
away from the myth of Celtic festivals, that you have to drink and get
drunk,” says executive producer Rita Albano. “It's not about that, it's
much more about the culture, the traditions and the artistic component.”

is building toward the big weekend of March 19 and 20, just past
Paddy's Day, when two blocks of Granville Street will be closed to
traffic during the day and a Sunday parade unfolds along Howe Street.
But CelticFest Vancouver 2011 actually kicks off this Friday.

when TV personality Fiona Forbes hosts the inaugural St. Patrick's Day
Luncheon, to be held in the Hotel Vancouver's historic Panorama Roof
Ballroom. The Ireland Fund of Canada sponsors this unique event, which
will see simulcast electronic links to similar luncheons in Toronto and
St. John's.

The next taste of festival events comes Tuesday when
the Colin Grant Band performs in a free lunchtime concert at Georgia and
Granville. Similar noonhour shows will take place all next week, and
the action spreads to places where you can indeed sing Whiskey in the
Jar with a whiskey in your hand: Ceili's Irish Pub, Doolin's Irish Pub
and Johnnie Fox's Irish Snug, all on and around Granville Street.

big day itself will be celebrated next Thursday night with what's
dubbed The World's Greatest St. Patrick's Day Céilidh. The Yale hosts
this traditional social gathering (pronounced KAY-lee), and a dozen
different performers, from Olympic opening ceremony fiddler Daniel Lapp
to Juno-winning fiddler Shona Le Mottée, will offer jigs, airs, reels,
polkas, ballads and singalongs.

Since founding CelticFest in 2004,
Albano has constantly sought new avenues to explore. The AfroCeltic
Dance party on Friday, March 19, certainly fits the bill.

we're creating a night made for dancing,” she says. “It's going to be
amazing -imagine a step-dancer and an African dancer, playing to boran
[Irish drum] and African percussion.”

Juno-winning West African
guitarist and singer Alpha Yaya Diallo will be joined by Irish and
African dancers and musicians. In keeping with the multicultural nature
of CelticFest, the show will be hosted by Todd Wong who, when wearing
his kilt and playing the bagpipes, is better known as Toddish McWong.

The annual St. Patrick's Day
parade takes place on Sunday March 20th.  Take in events before and
after the parade.  As usual, we will have a Gung Haggis Fat Choy parade
entry… past years have seen us put dragon boats on trailers into the
festival.  2 years ago we had a 5 person Chinese dragon boat walking
with the Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums during a snow storm.

Check out my story about the 2009 parade (2010 was canceled due to the Olympics & Paralympics games):
Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums & dragon boat paddlers… brave the snow in the Vancouver Celticfest St. Patrici's Day Parade

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is coming – with the Haiku contest

Every year the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival blooms!

I first met VCBF founder Linda Poole in 2005 at the planting of a Kogawa House cherry tree grafting at the City of Vancouver.  Since then the VCBF has grown with its events and partners.  It was wonderful to see Linda at the yarn bombing event of the Kogawa House cherry tree on Sunday.

Ricepaper Magazine publishes the winner of the Haiku Invitational poetry contest.  Personally, I have always thought it would be cool to have a haiku contest with a dragonboat theme, for all the paddlers in the city.  But until then… VCBF has a contest that attracts submissions from around the world.

  • Celebrate Metro Vancouver's cherry blossom legacy, one
    haiku at a time.  The Festival invites your fresh submissions to
    the 2011 Haiku Invitational presented by Leith
    Wheeler Investment Counsel Ltd.  In honor of Vancouver's 125th
    anniversary the theme this year should celebrate community through the
    blossoming of the cherry trees. Submit your poem with the submission form at

  • Mark your calendar to pick up your Birthday
    cherry tree at your chosen location for
    Saturday April 2nd and Sunday April 3rd, 2011. As
    this is a special event this is the only weekend to
    bring your cherry tree home and they’ve grown beautifully tall! Thanks for
    supporting our green and pink initiative.


Festival Director
O : 604.257.8120  C:

Visit our website at
Vancouver's 125th birthday and order your Birthday Blossom Cherry Tree

Cherry Tree at Kogawa House is Yarn-bombed!

Q: How do you make an aging cherry tree blossom again?
A: Cover it with knitted cherry blossoms!
– The Kogawa House Cherry Tree is yarn-bombed!


On March 6th, the Cherry Tree at Historic Joy Kogawa House became covered with “knitted cherry blossoms”, along its aged bare branches.  It's damaged trunk, became covered with “knitted wool bark”.  Scores of knitters from around the world, had sent knitted cherry blossoms to hang from its branches.  Scores of volunteers came on Sunday, to help decorate the tree with the “blossoms” and the “bark”. 

A fire truck parked in the lane behind the house, and firemen on the large ladder, helped to hang strings of blossoms along the tallest branches.  Children helped attach blossoms to the tree trunk.  Photographers gathered to take pictures of the strange site.  Reporters came to interview the creators of this project.

It is an old and diseased cherry tree in the lane at 1450 West 64th Ave.  It probably should have died by now… because it hadn't blossomed in years until the house was saved from demolition in 2006 and purchased by The Land Conservancy of BC.  It is the childhood home of famed author Joy Kogawa. It was the only home she knew until the age of 6, when her family was sent off to the Internment Camps for Japanese Canadians, in 1942, during WW2.  It was still the only real house she had known when in 1947, all her family had lived in were shacks in the Internment Camps, even two years after when the families were not allowed to go back to their homes because they had been sold to help pay for the cost of their internment.

Many years later, when the family had been sent to work on beet farms, as part of the “dispersal program”, the young Joy Kogawa still dreamed about the big house in Vancouver, with the big yard, and the big cherry tree, she used to climb with her older brother.

In 2002, now a long-time resident of Ontario, an aging Joy Kogawa drove through the old Marpole neighborhood with a friend, and discovered that her old family home was still standing… and it was for sale!  She didn't have enough money to purchase the house, so friends rallied and formed a “Save Kogawa House Committee”.  But not enough money was raised, and the house was purchased by an offshore owner and turned into a boarding house for renters.

In 2005, a demolition permit was applied for at Vancouver City Hall, and a group of activists rallied to help save the house.  The demolition permit was temporarily halted.  Letters of support came from writing and writer associations across Canada.  The Land Conservancy of BC, stepped in to help the revived “Save Kogawa House Committee” succeed in raising funds, and negotiate with the owners of the house, until it was saved in 2006.

Five years went by, which saw author readings at the house, and the establishment of a Writer-in-Residence program.  Joy Kogawa's elder brother, now a retired Anglican Minister, came from Seattle to see the house he hadn't seen in 65 years.


knitters can crocheters Deb Martin, Mary Novik and photographer Lydia.

In 2011, a yarn bombing project started.  (more later)

Knitter Cyndy at the dining room covered with yarn and cherry blossoms, inside Kogawa House.


MVI_0583 Click here for video
Video of Firemen walking along ladder and hanging strands of “knitted cherry blossoms” to the Cherry Tree.


Leanne Prain and Druanne attach “the knitted bark” to the tree.

MVI_0237 click here to see video

artist Leanne Prain co-author of “Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and
Knit Graffiti” with Mandy Moore, gives a quick interview at the Kogawa
House Cherry Tree project to Todd Wong.

Deb Martin holds up a strand as she unravels them and prepares to hang them from the tree.

Monica Miller with the almost completed project at the end of the day…



Dr. Jan Walls honoured by Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC



Dr. Jan Walls was honoured by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC


Saturday, March 5, 2011, 6:00 PM

Foo’s Ho Ho Restaurant,

102 East Pender Street, Vancouver.

Dr. Jan Walls is professor emeritus, scholar, founding director

David Lam Centre SFU, founding director CCHS,

and renown clapper tale expert.  The event followed the 5pm annual general meeting of the CCHS BC

After a delicious dinner, the pan-asian comedy troupe Assauled Fish, performed some delightful comedy sketches with references to Tiger moms, and Maclean's “Too Asian” article.   Then then launched into a rap tribute to Dr. Jan Walls.

I attended with my friends Allan Cho and Justine Tse.  Allan was elected to the position of vice-president after serving on the CCHS board for the past 2 years, he is also currently president of Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop and I am vice-president.  Justin was just elected to our ACWW Board, so it was great for us to sit together along with Jim Wong-Chu, a founding member of the ACWW.

I like the CCHS.  It is a great way to promote Chinese Canadian history, and I have participated in many of the organization's projects such as history fairs and writing workshops.  CCHS is a very natural element for Todd Wong to be
in, as I have so many connections and family.  My maternal cousin Hayne Wai is a founding director and past president.  My maternal 2nd cousin Janice Wong has been a guest speaker and presenter for the writing workshops.   Knowing people at each
table, and their connections to Chinese Canadian history is important.

When MC Dr. Henry Yu asked members of the audience to say something about the honoured guest, I was the second person to speak.

I thanked Dr. Jan Walls for his contribution to past Gung Haggis Fat Choy events.

He brings a real “chinese” element of mandarin language skill and scholarship that I cannot.  We have participated together in the opening event of the SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival in 2005, organized by the SFU Recreation and Athletic Department.  This event was based on my Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner event, and designed to bring together the large Asian student population with the University's Scottish traditions.

Jan has performed his clapper tales at Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners, and I retold the story of when I had him lined up for his first performance with Gung Haggis, he had to call me and regretfully cancel.  He had told me he had been looking forward to it, but it was a tough decision to make  – because he had been invited by Yo-Yo Ma to be a performer at a very special event organized by Boston University.  Of course, we said he had to go to Boston and wish him luck!

Jan has become a friend over the years and we have enjoyed many events together.  Not just Chinese, or Gung Haggis Fat Choy – but also Scottish!

Dr. Walls and I performed during “Tartan Week” at a poetry
and music event – it was organized by Dr. Leith Davies, director of the
Centre for Scottish Studies SFU, as part of a conference.  “Burns in
Trans-Atlantic Context”.  attended by some of the best scholars in the
world, on Robert Burns.  And Dr. Walls performed a clapper tale version
of Burns' poem
“John Barleycorn.”

When the Vancouver Sun came out a few
years ago, with a story about the 100 most influential Chinese Canadians
in BC – my blogger friend David Wong and I both wrote letters and blog
stories, criticizing the article for including non-Canadian Chinese
working in BC, and leaving out valid Canadians of Chinese ancestry.  We
also mentioned non-Chinese like Jan Walls and Dr. Edgar Wickberg who
have made important contributions to Chinese Canadian history and

Kogawa House Cherry tree will be “Yarn-bombed” tomorrow as hundreds of knitted “cherry blossoms” will cover the tree

A Long-Awaited Hug for Kogawa House Cherry Tree

Love pours down on Joy Kogawa’s cherry tree

Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Earlier this winter
volunteers at Historic Joy Kogawa House asked knitters from across
Vancouver to help them cheer up the dying cherry tree that stands just
outside the back gate at 1450 West 64th Avenue in Vancouver.

“The 60-year-old tree was leaking sap, branches had been snapped
by passing trucks—it really looked sad this winter,” said Ann-Marie
Metten, executive director of the writing program that welcomes writers
to live and write at the house for three months each year.

But soon the tree will be a cloud of pink blossoms and an early
sign of spring. On Sunday, March 6, 2 to 3:30pm, local knit graffiti
artists Leanne Prain and Mandy Moore, authors of Yarn Bombing: The
Art of Knit and Crochet Graffiti
(Arsenal, 2010), will cover the
tree with knitted blossoms. A fire truck and fire fighters from Fire
Hall No. 22 will be on hand to lift the writers into the tree so they
can safely sew blossoms in place.

Knitters from across Greater Vancouver have come together to
knit and crochet pink blossoms over the past two months. Knit-ins have
filled the tiny living room of the 1912 bungalow that Joy Kogawa writes
about in her children’s picture book, Naomi’s Tree, a story of
friendship, forgiveness, remembering, and love.

A knit-in Monday night in Council Chambers at Vancouver City
Hall had volunteers sitting in Councillors’ chairs as they spun pink
yarn into delicate blossoms. Young knitters at Bowen Island Community
School crafted beautiful blossoms under the guidance of local knitter
Anne Mann, who brought friends in to help the students with their

Blossoms have arrived in packages from Oregon and California,
from across Canada, and from as far away as Kingscliff, New South Wales.
“The most rewarding moment was when three small children arrived at the
house and lifted a branch full of blossoms from the hatchback of their
mother’s car,” Metten says. The little cherry tree survived yesterday’s
wind and rain, and stands planted in the front garden at the house.

It is the mother tree standing behind the house that on Sunday
will show signs of the love that knitters and writers have showered upon

Media interviews with the knit graffiti artists are welcome
before Sunday’s event. Thanks to Shaw Multicultural Channel, our media


Authors arrive; we orient them to their locations in the house and outside at
the tree

Fire truck and fire fighters arrive; we set them in place at the cherry tree

People begin to arrive. They visit the cherry tree and then gather in the
living room to sew cherry blossoms into chains

Writers start reading while knitters are working. Let’s call this part of the
program “Lit and Knit”—they take turns reading from their work while people sew
blossoms together; then they take a turn outside sewing blossoms onto the tree?
Four writers—40 or 50 minutes

Everyone outside to see cherry tree work in progress

Thank-yous and wrap-up. Attendees encouraged to become members and make

Cleanup and event ends


Flamenco fusion hits the North Shore's Centennial Theatre on March 4-5

Flamenco fusion festival features “Cafe de Chinatas” set for Centennial Theatre

March 4-5 at Centennial Theatre

The 7th annual Jondo Flamenco Festival, presented by the Peña Buleria Flamenco Club

Friday March 4th @ 8pm
Café de Chinitas Cuadro / Romeo & Juliet

Saturday March 5th @ 2pm
Persian & Flamenco Fusion Concert

Saturday March 5th @ 8pm
Gala Performance featuring World-Class International Artists

I LOVE flamenco fusion… why not? All art forms evolve and change.  Without change it becomes meaningless museum pieces.  We are NOT the same people our grandparents were, nor who are grandchildren will be.  Social constructs and values change, learn and adapt.  

Spain no longer is a colonial powerhouse.  China is no longer an imperial dynasty – but their cultural legacies are still felt everywhere they touched or influenced.  

If there was no flamenco fusion, then there would be no Misa Flamenco by Paco Pena… There would be no Friday Night in San Francisco by Paco de Lucia, John McLaughlin and Al Dimeola.  

Multiculturalism provides the impetus to learn from and experiment.  Each cultures adds a different flavor, just like the spices of the world.  Imagine if Netherlands, Spain, and Britain did not enrich their own cultures without the spices and foods and products of the NEW World.  Imagine if no trading or travel had ever happened along the Silk Road Route from China to Italy.

Flamenco Fusion is the next step as a rocket ship was to the biplane, as jet boats are to the Chinese junk, and the Spanish galleons.  Viva Flamenco Fusion! Ole!