Toddish McWong’s Misadventures in Multiculturalism: arts, culture, food, dragon boats, travel.
This is my blog…. started in December 2003.
Originally the blog was set up to provide information about the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Dinner, but over the years post topics broadened to include other intercultural arts & cultural activities, dragon boat activities, Chinese Head Tax redress events, library events, reviews of local theatre, music and opera events, travel, accordion performances, and more…
Gung Haggis Fat Choy is more than just a fusion of Scottish and Chinese cultural events. Originally, I stated that British Columbia’s original pioneers were not English and French as in founding colonial cultures of Canada = but actually Chinese and Scottish. Many of BC’s early explorers such as Alexander Mackenzie and Simon Fraser were of Scottish ancestry, as was the founding governor Sir James Douglas, and Vancouver’s first mayor Malcolm Alexander Maclean. I am also very interested in my Chinese-Canadian ancestry and Canadian roots. My paternal grandfather arrived in Canada in 1882 and my maternal great great grandfather in 1896. This has also led me to explore the history and contemporary culture of British Columbia with special interests in Chinese-Canadian and Scottish-Canadian as well as mixed-race culture.
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team: In 1997 I founded and coached the Celebration Team, which in 2002 was renamed Gung Haggis Fat Choy in order to give the team a multicultural identity, that would encourage the sharing and learning of BC’s pioneering cultures. I had started dragon boat racing in 1993, and coaching in 1995, for teams participating in the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival. I served on the race committee for the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival 2000-2003, and helped to found the Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race in 2003.
according to Wikipedia:
Gung Haggis Fat Choy was created in 1993 when a Simon Fraser University student Todd Wong was asked to help out with the University’s annual Robbie Burns celebrations. Wong, a 5th generation Canadian, quickly learned about Scottish-Canadian culture with its traditions of men wearing kilts, carrying swords, playing bagpipes and eating exotic foods. In 1993, the Chinese Lunar New Year fell on January 27, only two days away from Robbie Burns Day, which is always January 25 in celebration of the Scottish Bard’s birthday. “Gung Haggis Fat Choy!” said Wong, “I can celebrate two cultures at the same time.” And thus was born the persona of “Toddish McWong” with his growing appreciation of Scottish Canadian history and culture.
In 1998, Wong hosted the first Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner as a private dinner party for 16 friends. In 1999, the first public Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner was created as a fundraiser for the dragon boat team. Forty people attended. Now upwards of 300 people or more are served each year.
Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a cultural event originating from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The name Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a combination wordplay on Scottish and Chinese words: haggis is a traditional Scottish food and Gung Hay Fat Choy / Kung Hei Fat Choi is a traditional Cantonese greeting (in Mandarin it is pronounced Gong Xi Fa Cai) used during Chinese New Year.
The event originated to mark the timely coincidence of the Scottish cultural celebration of Robert Burns Day (January 25) with the Chinese New Year, but has come to represent a celebration of combining cultures in untraditional ways. In Vancouver, the event is characterized by music, poetry, and other performances around the city, culminating in a large banquet and party.
This unique event has also inspired both a CBC television performance special titled Gung Haggis Fat Choy, and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Festival, organized by the Recreation Department at Simon Fraser University.