Monthly Archives: May 2011

No dragon boat practice this Sunday

There is NO PRACTICE for GUNG HAGGIS dragon boat team on SUNDAY – May 29th

– with the Dragon Zone Regatta on from 9am to 4pm – it is very chaotic,
and all the boats, paddles and PFD's will be in use.

But do come out and watch the False Creek Women's Regatta on Saturday

especially watch the Dragon Zone Regatta around noon Sunday – as the
Competitive and Rec A teams will be racing their finals.

Next Practice, Wednesday June 1st, 7pm. then 10 more days afterwards until Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

Cheers, Todd

Todd Away from Bloging

It's been a very busy two weeks…

May 14th, I went to Saltspring Island for the Joy Kogawa talk for The Land Conservancy of BC
I only spent barely 15 hours on the island.  We arrived at 1:30pm with author Joy Kogawa, and Tamsin Baker – TLC Area Manager for Vancouver, after catching a 12:15pm direct ferry from Tsawwassen.  By 6:15am the next morning, we were on the ferry leaving Fulford Harbour for Scwartz Bay to catch the 7am ferry to Tsawwassen

Wednesday May 17th to Sunday May 22nd, I was traveling through Oregon for 3 nights, then attending a wedding in Seattle on the Saturday night.

Pictures are up on Flickr – and will be posted soon.
Cheers, Todd

Shelagh Rogers interviews Paul Yee for CBC Radio

Great interview with Paul Yee, by Shelagh Rogers on CBC Radio's “The Next Chapter”

This is a great little book about the Chinese pioneer rail road building experience in Canada.  This is a juvenile novel written as a diary about a young teen who follows his father to Canada, to help make money for their family in China.

I reviewed this book last summer, and read it – just before visiting Craigellachie, the site of the “Last Spike” on the Canadian Pacific Railway. 

has been one of my influences, in studying Chinese Canadian history –
it was great to be on the Saltwater City project that he chaired in

Joy Kogawa is giving a reading on Saltspring Island May 14


Canadian poet and novelist, Joy Kogawa, CM, OBC, will read from her
lifetime of award-winning creative work. Born in Vancouver, her
best-known book is Obasan, a semi-autobiographical novel featuring her
family’s experience of being taken from their normal lives to an
internment camp during WW 2. Joy Kogawa’s first literary reading on Salt
Spring is presented by the Land Conservancy of B.C. to support the
preservation of  Ms. Kogawa’s childhood home
as a heritage site that is also functioning as a writers’ retreat.
Refreshments will be served. Saturday, May 14 at 7pm

Gung Haggis dragon boat team is awarded special Community Spirit Award at Lotus Sports Club Regatta


Gung Haggis dragon boat team posing for the photographer, who had jumped on a Chase boat, and had to shoot with a telephoto lens.

Fun but W-E-T Saturday at the races…

and the rain stopped…
and the SUN did come out…
– but so did the hail – after the races – while waiting for the award ceremonies.

Award for Gung Haggis Fat Choy team came early at 11:00am
during special opening ceremonies with Burnaby City Councilor Paul McDonell – who presented a special award
from Lotus Sports Club
– The Community Spirit Award

for contributions by Gung Haggis team over the years to bring community
spirit to the Lotus races… and help fundraise for the Bill Alley
Memorial scholarship fund.

Unfortunately, a boat turned over in the Silver Final, and paddlers ended up in Barnet Inlet, and needed to be rescued.

Bill Alley Mem DB . (52)

Special thanks to ex-paddlers and friends who came to paddle with us – as we were short paddlers.

1st race – we started strong – (with a guest drummer) – but our rate was high, and we fell into 4th of 4 teams.
2nd Race
– Good start – we stayed close to the leader, and came 2nd  – (we moved Tzhe to drummer)
Final – (B Division equivalent)  Good start – with 8 borrowed paddlers
and drummer from Lotus Junior, Ft. Langley, + Abreast in a Boat teams –
but some minor timing problems, and we came 4th – but not far behind.
Mixed Adult B – Better race – good start –


Gung Haggis team paddles out to the Mixed Adult B race…. with guest paddlers and guest drummer.

in all – a good day…  The French paddlers on our team enjoyed
themselves, and were glad they came.  Team mates got to know each other
better.  And 7 of our rookie paddlers
 are now baptized into dragon boat races!  Woo-hoo!

Aidan and Eric have now done more races than practices!

Jumpstart Your Engines Poetry Workshop with Jericho Brown @ Kogawa House

Jumpstart Your
Engines Poetry Workshop with Jericho Brown

When: 11am to 1pm, Sunday, May 15

Where:  Historic Joy Kogawa House, 1450
West 64th Avenue, Vancouver

Cost: $35

In the Jumpstart
Your Engines Poetry Workshop, Jericho Brown helps students generate new
work through a set of unconventional exercises that keep our ears open
and our fingers moving. The workshop engenders new ideas about writing,
and as there is a profound relationship between reading poetry and
writing it, we participants read, discuss, and even recite the work of
several poets whose examples might lead us to a further honing of our

Jericho Brown worked as the
speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans before receiving his PhD in
Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. The
recipient of the Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the
Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, the Bread Loaf Writers’
Conference, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland, Brown is
an assistant professor at the
University of San Diego. His poems have appeared in journals and
anthologies, including 100 Best African American Poems. His first
book, PLEASE (New Issues), won the American Book Award.

Jericho Brown will
read from his work at the Cross-Border Pollination Reading Series on
Saturday, May 14. Find out more at

To register for this workshop,
please send me a quick email response.

Executive Director

Historic Joy Kogawa
1450 West 64th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6P 2N4

Please send mail to:
Cartier Street
Vancouver, BC V6P 4T6

Vancouver Sun story about architect Joe Wai and Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens

recognition for my role model and “biu-goh” (older cousin) – architect Joe Wai.
Now you can see where I get all this East West fusion stuff – It's in
the family. Our grandfather Wong Wah came to Canada in 1882, at age 16, in Victoria.

East is East and West is West, and 25 years ago the twain met


celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Dr. Sun Yatsen Classical Chinese
Garden held a Founders reception Friday afternoon, and in attendance
were old friends Joe Wai and Marwyn Samuels. Samuels flew in from his
home in China for the event. Wai flew in from his office on Homer


celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Dr. Sun Yatsen Classical Chinese
Garden held a Founders reception Friday afternoon, and in attendance
were old friends Joe Wai and Marwyn Samuels. Samuels flew in from his
home in China for the event. Wai flew in from his office on Homer

Two people could not be less alike. Wai is an architect.
Samuels, at present, is a movie producer. Wai was born in Hong Kong and
grew up in Vancouver. Samuels, a Jew who was born in New York, got his
PhD in Chinese Studies at the U. of Washington and came to Vancouver as a
UBC professor in 1974. Wai speaks Cantonese. Samuels speaks Mandarin.
Wai's wife is white. Samuels, in his two marriages, married a Filipina
and a Chinese national. They appear to inhabit two different sides of a
cultural divide, but what those sides are is difficult to say. East and
West are not as twain as they used to be.

In the late 1970s,
events brought Wai and Samuels together. The City of Vancouver had
vacant land at the edge of Chinatown, and wanted to build a park for the
Chinese community. Complicating matters was a bitter political divide
within the Chinese community itself -between a pro-Taiwanese faction and
a pro-mainland China faction.

Samuels was thrust in between the
two. The idea of building a Chinese garden had been suggested, so the
City appointed a three-man advisory committee with one representative
from each faction, and Samuels, who acted as intermediary.

as it turned out, may have been the only person in town to have seen a
classical Chinese garden in situ. He had visited China in 1973 and 1975
on study grants, just as the country was beginning to open up to North
Americans. He made important political contacts while he was there -he
met Premier Zhou Enlai, for one -and it was his idea to have Chinese
artisans build a replica of a Ming Dynasty-era garden here.

of the existing classical gardens [in China] were built in the 16th
century,” Samuels said, “when China was then part of the global economy.
And most of the gardens were built by very wealthy merchants.”

time, Wai, who was vicechairman of the Chinese Cultural Centre, would
be brought on as architect for the park surrounding the garden, and
would also be responsible for adapting the garden's ancient techniques
to modern building codes.

But first they had to get the money to
build it. And it would be built as a symbol between the city's two
communities. “Joe and I,” Samuels said, “decided that this should not be
a Chinese community project, but that it should be a whole community
project, that the Chinese community and non-Chinese community should act
together for the first time on a major project like this, and also that
the city's corporate elite get involved.

“I was always conscious of this cultural mix.”

They needed about $6.7 million. A garden society was formed and a fundraising drive was started.

Then the recession of 1981 hit. The donations dried up.

we weren't about to give up,” Samuels said, “and Joe and I became
allies in this. You know the Yiddish word 'macher'? It's like a fixer.
Essentially, Joe, who had good political connections to the city
government and elite, was the local macher, and I was the China macher.”

one point, money was so tight that Li Ka-shing, who was developing land
around the garden, offered to buy it as a centrepiece to his
development. The offer was turned down. At another point, they had to
resort to barter. One corporate donor, a forestry company, sent off a
shipment of raw logs and pulp to China as payment.

They needed
more than just donations from the Chinese community, so Wai worked his
contacts within the non-Chinese community, among them Anne Cherniavsky,
wife of Peter Cherniavsky, head of BC Sugar. Wai and Samuels showed her a
design of the garden, and she brought her friends on board. And Wai won
an important donor in David Lam, former B.C. lieutenant-governor.

donated $1 million, but only on the condition that it would be the last
million donated. Wai and Samuels first had to prove they could get the
garden built.

“We were really desperate for money at the time,”
Samuels said, “and Joe set up two meetings with Lam. When Lam donated
his own money, his commitment to do that was sufficient to get other
people to come in.”

The society -and both Samuels and Wai stressed
that the garden was due to the hard work of many people -finally raised
most of the money. Fiftythree Chinese master craftsmen flew to
Vancouver and built the garden using traditional methods -no glue, no
screws, no power tools.

Wai would resume his architectural work.
Samuels would move to China in 1994 and marry his second wife, a former
movie actress. They now finance and produce movies together.

both men made a similar observation about the garden and its
relationship to Vancouver's Chinese community. It was the first major
cross-cultural project that the Chinese and non-Chinese communities
endeavoured to build, and as such, had a potent symbolism attached to
it. But in the intervening years, the Chinese community has grown so
different and so quickly that Wai and Samuels wondered at the garden's
relevance to it.

“It seems to me,” Wai said, “that the newer
members of the Chinese community aren't as involved in the garden. As a
community, I don't think we know where we're going.”

“That issue
is quite common in China,” Samuels said. “So much has changed so quickly
there that there is this crisis of identity -who are we and where are
we?” It was wealthy Chinese merchants that built the last classical
Chinese gardens in the 16th century. Now, the wealthy Chinese merchants
of the 21st century were moving here.

A classical Chinese garden
to them, Samuels said, was ancient history. Why, having left it behind,
would they necessarily be interested in it when they came here?

Kilts Night Tonight for Cinco de Mayo

Kilts Night Tonight for Cinco de Mayo

Did you know that the head
chef at Doolin's Irish Pub is Mexican?

Good social event for
members of the Gung Haggis dragon boat team.  Learn to sing along to
Canadiana and Maritime songs + Scottish and Irish traditional tunes +
dance to celticized folk & rock tunes.

FREE PINT OF GUINNESS BEERif you wear a kilt.
1st thursday of each month

I have a few extra kilts for people to wear… 
so email to reserve – or first come, first choose!

Canucks game start is 5:30 PST today –
so it might be
over just in time for the Halfax Wharf Rats
to take over the
stage at 9pm.

I'll be there for 8:00pm to watch the 3rd

Cheers, Todd

Jack Layton's Chinese mother-in-law serves up 1000 year old eggs to Rick Mercer

Jack Layton and Olivia Chow are probably the most inter-cultural couple in Canadian federal politics.

RMR: Rick and Jack Layton

Rick visits Jack for lunch at his eco-friendly home in Toronto.

by MercerReport
1 year ago

Who are the most culturally diverse candidates in Metro Vancouver?

Who are the most culturally diverse candidates in Metro Vancouver?

Meena Wong is running in Vancouver South for NDP.

It's been an interesting 2011 Federal election campaign with the “ethnic vote” becoming an election issue.  See these stories:

'Ethnic costumes' controversy follows Conservatives to Toronto rally

Election Analysis: Pitfalls emerge when wooing ethnic voters

New Canadians question chase for 'ethnic vote'

‎My friend Meena Wong is the NDP candidate in Vancouver South.  Meena has been an advocate for
families, immigration, human rights and equality. Last federal
election, she was working hard on Don Davies campaign and helped get him
elected in Vancouver Kingsway.  
Meena has
stood on the lines with us for Head Tax Redress, and helped lead the
protest march in Chinatown in 2006.
She has been a friend for many years,
and calls me “brother” – and asked for my support. Unfortunately Wai
Young isn't getting any support from her brothers and sisters.
  Vancouver Conservative candidate in legal fight with family

Ujjal Dosanjh is the incumbent Liberal MP, is former BC NDP Premier, and has long been active on issues of human rights, and attends many cultural events in the community.  Dosanjh has been supportive of the Historic Joy
Kogawa House, and the Chinese Head Tax Redress – he was the one who
found the 2nd opinion for the Liberals' after their dissasterous ACE
program was rammed through by Raymond Chan.  Ujjal's campaign is hoping that Meena takes votes away from
Conservative Wai Young – who is having a lot of troubles.

Taleeb Noormohamed in North Vancouver, is the first Ismaili candidate is running for the Liberals.  He is described by the Georgia Straigjt as a “young Ismaili dynamo who will probably make it to Parliament at some point in his life.” 

In Vancouver Centre, Hedy Fry is the incumbent Liberal MP, born in the Caribbean, and has a strong support in the Vancouver gay community.

Libby Davies has been NDP MP for many years in Vancouver East.  She has attended many different cultural events of the year, including Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners.

Don Davies is the NDP incumbent MP for Vancouver Kingsway.  I first met him a few years ago, at a dim sum lunch organized by Meena Wong.  Davies has been very supportive of Chinese Canadian issues such as the Chinese Head Tax Redress campaign.  He attends many cultural celebrations in Vancouver Kingsway and is very supportive of Vietnamese events.  He has also attended many Gung Haggis Fat Choy events.

See the Georgia Straight for their suggestions on voting:

The Straight slate for the 2011 federal election | Vancouver

RMR: Rick and Jack Layton

Rick visits Jack for lunch at his eco-friendly home in Toronto.