Category Archives: Commentaries

Strombo wades in on the plagiarism issue of Ling Zhang’s “Gold Mountain Blues”

and the Arts
George Stromboulopoulos comments on the current lawsuit
by authors Wayson Choy, Sky Lee and Paul Yee against Chinese born author Ling Zhang – and points out some infamous examples of plagiarism including George Harrison’s song My Sweet Lord vs He’s So Fine by The Chiffons. 


Here are some of the highlight’s from the article

Cold Play’s “Viva la Vida” VS Joe Satriani’s “If I Could Fly”

Strombo points out that unintentional plagiarism still gets you in trouble.  There are videos comparisons of Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” and “He’s So Fine”, as well as Cold Play’s “Viva la Vida” vs Joe Striani’s “If I Could Fly” which was was settled out of court in September, 2009.  Strombo also points out the successful lawsuit by the Isley Brothers against Michael Bolton, who had both released songs titled ‘Love is a Wonderful Thing’, only Bolton did it 25 years later.

More interesting are the literary references:

Teenager Kaavya Viswanthan, wrote a hit debut novel, ‘How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life’ which was found to contain different portions of two young adult novels by Megan McCafferty.

Stephen Ambrose’s book ‘The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany 1944-45’ was found to have copied full passages from six different books that had not been listed as sources.

The Terminator Movie VS Outer Limits segments

If story “ideas” are proprietary, then Ling Zhang may be in big trouble.  Strombo points out that James Cameron had admitted that the idea of the Terminator movie was based on ideas from “a couple of Outer Limits segments”.  Author of the segments was author Harlan Ellison who settled out of court and had his name added to the end credits of the film.

Disappearing Moon Cafe

Can it also be a coincidence that Paul Yee’s Saltwater City, Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Cafe, Denise Chong’s The Concubine’s Children, and Wayson Choy’s Jade Peony, were the 1989, 1990, 1994 and 1996 winners for the City of Vancouver Book Awards
The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy

Check out the listed examples of plot and character similarities that have been printed in news stories, from the Federal Court Statement of Claim

Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Cafe (1990), pg. 3

In grave danger, a young Chinese man is rescued and then cared for by a
beautiful girl, Kelora, of rare Chinese/ Native heritage.

Zhang Ling’s Gold Mountain Blues(2011), pp. 256-285

In grave danger, a young Chinese man is rescued and then cared for by a
beautiful girl, Sundance, of rare Chinese/Native heritage.

Sky Lee’s Disappearing Moon Cafe (1990), pg. 237

The Chinese man is old now. Full of regret for his long lost love, Kelora, he dies after a visit from her.

Zhang Ling’s Gold Mountain Blues (2011), pp. 511-513

The Chinese man is old now. Full of regret for his long lost love, Sundance, he dies after a visit from her.

Wayson Choy’s The Jade Peony (1995), pp. 52-56

Wong Suk is disfigured after working on the railway. He rescues a white
foreman who becomes gratefully indebted as well as a good friend. When
the foreman dies, his son passes along a precious piece of gold.

Zhang Ling’s Gold Mountain Blues (2011), pp. 70-72, 145-147, 377

Ah Fat is disfigured in a fight while working on the railway. He saves the
life of his white foreman. They become good friends over the years.
When the foreman’s wife dies, her will leaves money to Ah Fat’s son.

Paul Yee’s The Bone Collector’s Son (2003), pp. 62, 72-73, 79-80, 140-141

Fourteen-year-old Bing works as a houseboy for a white couple in Vancouver. He becomes a
target of white bullies, but his employer Mrs. Bentley rescues him.

Zhang Ling’s Gold Mountain Blues (2011), pp. 309-326

Fifteen-year-old Kam Ho works as a houseboy for a white couple in Vancouver. He becomes a target of white bullies, but his employer Mrs. Henderson rescues him.

Paul Yee’s Dead Man’s Gold and Other Stories (2002), pp. 73-78

Hard-working Shek buys a farm while younger brother Ping hates farm work and goes to the city to gamble. Shek pays everyone but Ping. Ping is unhappy. Ping kills Shek.

Zhang Ling’s Gold Mountain Blues (2011), pp. 235-236, 241, 243, 246, 247, 249, 328

Hard-working Ah Fat buys a farm while his son Kam Shan hates farm work and goes to
the city to gamble. Ah Fat pays others but not Kam Shan. Kam Shan is
unhappy. He disappears.

Adrian Dix is the most multicultural of both NDP and Liberal leadership candidates

Adrian Dix understands and lives multiculturalism
– He could be BC's next premier with a multicultural vision like Sir James Douglas, “the Father of BC”

Adrian Dix speaks at a Vaisaiki event in 2007.  On the far left is then BC NDP leader Carole James, and wearing the orange tie is Federal NDP leader Jack Layton.   I have yet to find a picture of Adrian Dix wearing a kilt.  photo (hopefully) courtesy of Flunging Pictures

BC history is filled with characters who pushed for a “White Man's Province” such as the political leaders who wanted to charge the Chinese head tax, and created the 1927 Chinese Exclusion Act, all the way up to Premier Duff Pattulo who wanted to keep Canadian born Asians out of the WW2 armed forces, because he knew the next step would be giving Chinese-Canadians the vote.

But our history is also filled with visionary people like Sir James Douglas, the first governor of BC.  He was born in Guyana of mixed Scottish and Caribbean heritage.  His wife Amelia was Metis, and he stood up for the rights of First Nations peoples in the Fraser Canyon gold fields stating in 1958 that “the Laws would protect the rights of the Indians
no less than those of the white men.” 

The recent NDP and Liberal leadership races saw Christy Clark and Adrian Dix emerge victorious from their serious challengers of Kevin Falcon, Mike de Jong, and George Abbott for the Liberals; and Mike Farnsworth, John Horgan, Dana Larson and Nicholas Simons for the NDP.

And so… I have been asking myself, “Who is the most multicultural?”

Multicultural understanding is important because without it, we don't have cultural equality in society.  Without respect for different cultures, society become mono-culture.  This was British Columbia during the 1908 Anti-Asiatic riots in Chinatown and Japantown.  This was BC that created the anti-potlatch law and put all First Nations children in Residential schools.  This was BC during the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II.  This was BC, when Canada created the laws that only permitted direct passage to Canada, making it impossible for people to travel directly from India, hence the Komagata Maru incident.

Being a great leader isn't just about being multicultural.  But I think that a great leader must understand multiculturalism. Afterall, the great civilizations have always placed great importance in trade and knowledge.  It has been the death of civilizations to close themselves to the outside world, and insulate themselves in their own ethnocentricity.  In the past years, we have even seen former Premier Gordon Campbell change his tune from working against First Nations to working together.

The Georgia Straight
published this story the other day: “Adrian Dix brings cultural literacy to the NDP leader's office, which could spell trouble for Christy Clark”.  Author Charlie Smith looks at the people around Dix, and his supporters such as Vancouver City Councilor Kerry Jang.  He writes, “Of course, Dix attracted a great deal of support from people from other
walks of life. But had it not been for his outreach to multicultural
B.C.—which set him apart from the other candidates in the race—he
probably wouldn't have won.”

In a similar vein of politics and multiculturalism, Vancouver Sun writer Douglas Todd recently tried to find out how many of
Vancouver's mayors have been historically of Scottish ancestry.  He
tried googling the names and mostly came up with names of Scottish and
British ancestry.  He called me up to ask me my views, which I said was directly linked to the Scots then being the largest ethnic group of Vancouver, but also because of racism, because Chinese were not allowed to vote until 1947.  Read: Opinion: Is the end in sight for Vancouver's 'Scottish' mayors?

He also asked me how soon did I think Vancouver would have a Mayor of Chinese ancestry.  I told him it would be just a matter of time, since Kamloops had Peter Wing, the first Chinese Canadian mayor in Canada in the 1960's, and Victoria recently had Mayor Allan Lowe.

Horgan and Dix have talked about their Irish ancestry.  Horgan says he “can talk anything with anybody”, and Dix said his father was born in Dublin.  Horgan also received endorsement from fellow Irish/Scots Burnaby mayor Derrick Corrigan and his MLA wife Kathy Corrigan.

Christy Clark attended the University of Edinburgh and named her son Hamish.  But it has been harder to find out ancestral backgrounds for some of the other candidates.

Maybe they don't see ethnic heritage as an important part of a campaign, if the candidates are all the same mainstream colour or ethnicity.  But “getting the ethnic vote” has become an issue in the present federal election.  Articles about how the Conservatives and Liberals are stumbling over each other, and in their efforts to secure ethic votes, or stage photo opportunities are making the news rounds.  Meanwhile, the strategic placement of ethnic candidates is discussed as well, especially in the federal riding of Vancouver South, where Meena Wong NDP candidate aims to take some of the Chinese vote away from Conservative Wai Young, as well as challenge incumbent Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh,

Multicultural issues are increasingly inclusive of Gay Lesbian cultures too.  MP Libby Davies and MLA Mable Elmore were big supporters of Adrian Dix.  It's good that in today's society, a candidate's gender preference or race is no longer an issue in the media.

Much has been written about Dix's connections to the South Asian community.  MLA's Harry Bains and Raj Chouhan are leaders in the South Asian and Labour communities and were quick to endorse Dix.  Going into the last week, MLA Jenny Kwan endorsed Mike Farnsworth.   But it isn't just who you know that makes you multicultural, it's how you live your life.

Mable Elmore is BC's first Filipino-Canadian MLA, and when I asked her who the most multicultural candidate was, she told me that He
is the first MLA to have a Vietnamese speaking constituency assistant. 
This was a tremendous help, when Dix became involved in the accidental
death of Vietnamese workers at a Fraser Valley mushroom farm, and took his assistant with him to help translate. I also heard Raj Chouhan speak on this event at the BC Federation of Labour conference, because Chouhan had been the founding president of the Canadian Farmworkers' Union.

Most importantly, Dix's wife is of South Asian ancestry.  Rennee Saklikar is a wonderful woman, whom I liked immediately when I first met her.  She complimented me on my Gung Haggis Fat Choy activities, and we have crossed paths in literary communities.  She is a poet and this weekend, she shared with me that her poem “June 1981” has been nominated for poem of the year for Descant Magazine.  They have known each other a long time, and it is impossible not to share each other's cultures and perspectives.  Because of this, I am sure that Dix is also affected by the Air India bombing of June 1985, because Saklikar's aunt and uncle were lost on that flight.

When families become interconnected, we become part of each other's culture and history.  In the same way, that I have met so many people of both Scottish, and Chinese ancestry, or both combined – it is acknowledged that all the guests who come to a Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner, are part of our multicultural family now. 

Dix is known as an intelligent and sharp critic – one of the opposition stars in Carole James' shadow cabinet.  While I had hoped that Carole James could fulfill my vision of a Dougals-like premier, with her Metis and Scottish ancestry, as well as her compassion for inclusion and human rights, it looks like Dix is the man who might best exemplify the qualities of Sir James Douglas.

In the Canadian Dictionary of Biography Online, Sir James Douglas is described as such:

      “A man
of iron nerve and physical prowess, great force of character, keen intelligence,
and unusual resourcefulness…  A
practical man, but yet a visionary, Sir James Douglas was also
humanitarian. He treated individuals, including Negro slaves and Indians, with
a respect that few of his contemporaries showed.”

With Dix's reputation as the hardest working member of the NDP, and his commitment to close the gap between rich and poor, to make health care more accessible, to stop closing schools and maintain student teacher ratios, to look after the environment…. and his “cultural literacy”- he may well be the person most likely to fill the shoes and multicultural vision of Sir James Douglas.

Read the Georgia Straight article:

No kilt – but here is Adrian Dix participating in the Fiji Festival last summer, wearing a green grass skirt.  Second from left is Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan, and in red is Burnaby MLA Kathy Corrigan.  photo by Patrick Tam, Flunging Pictures.

Bel Canto singing of Vancouver Opera's Lucia di Lammermoor is stunning!

Wow!  Classical Italian opera at it's best with bel canto singing, and lavish sets with projections!

Lucia di Lammermoor
Vancouver Opera
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
December 4, 7, 9, 11

Photo credit: Tim Matheson  – courtesy Vancouver Opera

Don't be late to this opera!  With stalls on the Lion's Gate Bridge, traffic re-routed to Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, and traffic on the Georgia Viaduct backed all the way to Main St. – I very nearly missed getting seated.  The set is dark.  The overture begins.  Flashes of lightning(?) illuminate the main characters of this tragic love triangle.  And an electric current runs through the audience.  At that moment, there is no place on earth I would rather be.

A group of guards search for an intruder in a forest.  A young woman named Lucia secretly meets with the hunter.  Meanwhile her brother, the castle lord, wants to marry her off to save the family's failing fortunes.  Lucia and Edgardo declare their love for each other, even though he is the sworn enemy of her brother.

Eglise Gutierrez, the brilliant Cuban-American coloratura soprano, is Lucia to Michael Fabiano'd Edgardo. Her first aria, set in the forest, is a showcase of trills and runs that make the lyrical beauty of bel canto opera so popular.  The opening night crowd gladly gave a lengthy applause to her solo.

The singing of all the leads is very strong,  and reaches a climax in Act II after Lucia is married to the hapless Arturo (Thomas Macleay).   Six singers simultaneously voice their own ideas of the consequences of Lucia's wedding to a man she doesn't want to marry, who is thinks she is wonderful, arranged by her brother, with comments by the priest and her attendant companion, while her objet d'amour interrupts the wedding too late. Wow! Six part harmony!

And the sets are absolutely gorgeous!  The forest scenes are densely layered with projections on the scrim screen.  The castle scenes reveal a background of a vertical view of castle walls and ramparts.

Welcome to the Vancouver Opera's 2010 production of the 1835 Donizetti opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, set in early 18th Century Scotland, on the Scottish Lowland marshes of Ravenswood Castle.  It is one of the most popular operas, making it's 6th appearance as a Vancouver Opera production since 1966.  It could be popular because of Vancouver and BC's deep Scottish roots, but there was not a kilt to be seen on stage, since the setting is in the lowlands of Lammermuir Hills – East of Edinburgh.  Donizetti based his opera on the historical  novel by Sir Walter Scott, The Bride of Lammermoor, which was based on a true story of the Dalrymple Family in 1669, when a groom met a wedding night tragedy, and the bride never recovered from the trauma.  And thus, one of opera's most famous scenes and arias was created. 

There are dozens of youtube videos of “The Mad Scene” for Lucia Di Lammermoor, debating the merits of certain singers.  But on the Queen Elizabeth stage only one mattered.  Gutierrez moved thoughtfully and held the audience's rapt attention.  Standing Ovations for Guiterrez at the end of the evening.

This is supposedly a deep psychological opera, about the misguided family dynamics, and the tragic deaths of three innocents.  But it could also be compared to Romeo and Juliet, because of the feuding families.  A simple boy meets girl, others try to break them up, girl thinks boy betrays her, so she runs the other way, and 1st boy tries to get girl back, but has consequences.  Oops, maybe it it's more complicated than I thought.  But in our sophisticated 21st psychological reasonings, we must remember that Lucia and Edgardo are likely teenagers.  Their infatuations and rash actions could also be likened to a Glee plot on television with terrific singing scenes, but with tragic consequences more akin to the “I know What You Did” horror series.

Vancouver Opera website is very interesting. 

You can find many weblinks to information about Lucia Di Lammoor on the Vancouver opera website.  One of my favorite perusals is the anime cartoons done for many of its operas. 

Check out  anime cartoons for Lucia Di Lammermoor:

Music Director Jonathan Darlington describes his personal and dark connections to Donizetti.:

There is even a Vancouver Opera youtube channel.  These are videos of the rehearsals and set concepts.  Don't watch them if you want to be surprised.  But do watch them to be better prepared for when you do attend.

Interesting related tangential trivia with Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Giacommo Rossini:

A teen-aged Walter Scott, met the rising Scottish poet Robert Burns during the winter of 1786–87, at one salon gatherings where Burns would have given a reading about the time his first book Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect was published.

There is a quote wrongly attributed to Burns “Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back and instead of dying, he sings.  While this quote very aptly describes the death scenes in Lucia Di Lammermoor, I could find no references of this quote on official Burns websites.  But I did find it referenced to American comedian/actor Ed Gardner, which makes more sense.  Burns usually wrote in the Scottish dialect, where the term “guy” is more usually found as a name “Guy”.

There are 9 operas that are set in Scotland.  The most famous two are Donizetti's Lucia Di Lammermoor, and Verdi's Macbeth.  Rossini's La donna del lago (The Lady of the Lake), which was the first Walter Scott novel to be adapted to opera, has not been performed in Vancouver.  While Vancouver Opera has produce Lucia di Lammermoor 6 times, and Macbeth only once, VO seems to have a love affair with certain operas set in China and Japan, as Turando has been produced 4 times, and Madam Butterfly 9 times.  Count for yourself  on Vancouver Opera's Production History.

Vernon student creates history project on Larry Kwong, and wins prize trip to Barkerville!

Larry Kwong: A Hero to Me

P7230042 by you.
Here is Gavin Donald's winning display on Larry Kwong – photo Todd Wong

Vernon student Gavin Donald creates a prize winning history display about the first NHL hockey player of Asian ancestry


Silver Star school student Gavin Donald, with his
project, Larry Kwong: A Hero to Me, one of the winners in the recent
Vernon and District Heritage Fair.

Gavin Donald, 11, is a Grade 6 Silver Star student, that I sat beside at
last night's BC Hockey Hall of Fame induction dinner.

I was surprised at how much compassion and information that Gavin conveyed when he talked about Larry Kwong.  Gavin is passionate about his hometown of Vernon, and really wanted to choose a person from Vernon for his project.  The young man beside me wore a tie, and was thrilled to meet Larry Kwong at the BC Hockey Hall of Fame Dinner last night in Penticton.  Even though the induction of Trevor Linden, one of the greatest hockey players to wear the “C” for the Vancouver Canucks, was undoubtedly the evening's highlight – Gavin was only there to meet his hero – Larry Kwong. 

When MP Stockwell Day came over to meet Larry Kwong, it was Gavin who quickly had a pen in Day's hand to sign a petition to nominate Larry Kwong for the BC Hockey Hall of Fame.  By the end of the evening, Gavin was proudly carrying a newly won silent auction prize of a goalie stick signed by Mikka Kipprusoff, and asking other of the inducted hockey players Trevor Linden, Dallas Drake to sign the stick.  An evening highlight for Gavin was having Larry Kwong add his signature that same goalie stick.

Gavin did his history project
on Larry Kwong, a Vernon native who was the first person of Asian
descent to play in the NHL.  Gavin is 1 of 4 Vernon students who went
on to the Okanagan Regional Heritage Fair in
Kelowna and four projects from Vernon students were selected for the
prize of a trip to the Provincial Heritage Fair in Barkerville June 30
to July 4.

Here is a quote from the article:

Kwong, who was born in Vernon in 1923,
played for the Vernon Hydrophones 1939-41. He played for the New York
Rangers 1946-48 but due to alleged prejudice played only one minute in a
game in 1948.
“Many people in Canada were racist then but he never gave up
on his dream. He was a good player. We have to learn from history. It’s
sickening that someone would not have a chance because of their race.
That should not happen anymore,” said Gavin, whose great-uncle, John
Baumborough, played hockey with Kwong in Vernon

Read the original article:

Italian Day on Commercial Drive

Everybody's Italian on Commercial Drive for Italian Days.

2010_June_Italian_Day 008
I saw this fellow singing and playing electronic accordion.  I want one!

2010_June_Italian_Day 041
Wonderful singing in Italian from Italian operas – I want to bring my accordion and return next year with some Asian Canadian musician friends and perform our repertoire of Italian songs and arias.  We could call ourselves Ital-Asians Romanza!

2010_June_Italian_Day 029

Mike Lombardi, Vancouver School Trustee and Library Board – with some of the volunteers from the Italian Cultural Centre.  I once played O Solo Mio on my accordion for Mike.  He loved it!

2010_June_Italian_Day 061
One of my favorite places on the Drive for gelato and coffees.

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There was a pasta eating contest.  This little fellow got great mouthfuls… but he didn't win.

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Outside the Portuguese Club, they paid special attention to the bbq herring.

2010_June_Italian_Day 020
But the line-up was longer for the bbq roasted half-chickens – check out this video.

2010_June_Italian_Day 045
Not everybody is DNA-Italian – but the Asian restaurants, Greek places, and even the Caribbean restaurants all go in the action.  Here is a DJ and sound system blasting reggae tunes.

Ali & Ali 7: RCMP, Immigration and tasers – Oh My!

Ali & Ali 7 Return to the stage for another outrageous skewering of Canadian Multiculturalism

Created and performed by Camyar Chai, Guillermo Verdecchia and Marcus Youssef
Co-starring Laara Sadiq and Raugi Yu
Directed by Guillermo Verdecchia

at the Cultch’s Historic Theatre
Apr 14–24
Tickets for Cultch Performances available at 604-251-1363 or

at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts’ Studio Theatre
April 28 – May 1
Tickets for Shadbolt performances at 604-205-3000 or

Ali & Ali are to Canadian multiculturalism what Wayne & Shuster
are to Canadian culture.  They poke fun at ourselves, to help us laugh
at the absurdity of our history and culture.

But in today's world, Wayne & Shuster, comedy kings of the 1960's and 1970's, have given way to Kids from the Hall, and Russell Peters.  Canadian culture is no longer white and red, our cultural diversity includes black and yellow and pink and especially brown.  Canadians also come from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Azerbaijian.  Wayne & Shuster used to make fun of foreign accents.  Camyar Chai and Marcus Youssef as brown immigrant refugees from the fictional country of Agraba, take ethnic jokes to a whole different level – but with some very serious political commentary.

was my first time at Ali & Ali. I really enjoyed reading the
published play Ali & Ali and the Axes of Evil.  I couldn't stop laughing at some of the bits about Asian Heritage Month, and the Scottish stage manager.  For the 2010 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner, I had invited Marcus Youssef to read/perform an excerpt with comedian Charles Demers.  So I wasn't going to miss them.

The show opens with a montage of  current world leaders from Libya, USA, and Canada.  It's a tribute rap to Moammar Gadhafi.  Wow… we are definitely in a different cultural perspective here.  The play is interactive with the audience, asking questions, getting responses.  Surprise!  They are spoofing and utilizing experimental theatre audience participation as well as Bertolt Brecht's agitprop theatre.

Ali & Ali are presenting a show to the audience.  They introduce their assistant as Yogi Ru, in actuality Vancouver actor Raugi Yu.  Raugi is the straight man to this zany duo, even dressing up as Obama's Portuguese Water Dog. 

Along the way, an ethnic South Asian RCMP officer (Laara Sadiq) appears, to charge
Ali & Ali with illegal immigration to Canada.  A kangaroo court (or
would it be a “moose court” in Canada?) ensues and Ali & Ali must
defend and explain themselves. This is where the character of Raugi steps up as an interpreter to
explain the actions of Ali & Ali to the RCMP officer.  But true to
Ali & Ali interpretation and misinterpretion, as Canadian
sacred institutions
such as the RCMP are poked with scenarios including tasers and cultural sensitivity
training. Broad outrageous humour got loud laffs from the audience –
especially the puppet show!

Ali & Ali poke some fun at Barak Obama's New
World Order. The puppet show took on a weird outrageous vibe, as talking heads of Afro-American movement cultural icons, criticize Obama policies in the White House.  It would have been nice if they had been able to identify who their “Jiminy Cricket” conscience guides were, as many audience members are probably not versed in Afro-American revolutionaries such as Malcolm X and Angela Davis.  

Some serious topics are addressed such as
prison detention & torture, illegal immigration and deportation.  This show uses the slap stick humour to set up and explain the underlying social commentary.  How does a normal human being cope with being detained in prison on unspecific charges?  The balance between the serious and absurdist swings back and forth, eliciting emotional reactions from the audience.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  There are many in-jokes, dependent upon the audience's knowledge of many things.  It is like a television channel-flipping barrage of issues.  But the play succeeds in informing the audience about our country's detention of prisoners, and it creating new cultural perspectives of multiculturalism.  Sometimes, how you see the world really does depend on what colour your eyes are.

Definitely not for everybody – but neither was Monty Python or Wayne & Shuster.

Check out the Neworld website:

Vancouver Olympic Ceremonies: Where was the cultural diversity?

Winter Olympics invited countries from around to the world to multicultural Vancouver, but cultural diversity was missing in the Opening and Closing ceremonies.

Apparently the opening ceremonies did feature performers of cultural diversity.  But we missed it.

before the televised official opening… (“Miss Jully Black to the back
of the bus please”)… not “Canadian” enough to be televised…. and
February is Black History month in Canada!

Read Vancouver Sun Pete McMartin's review of the opening ceremonieshttp

The Closing Ceremonies were promised to include more French content,
and to feature Canadian humour and myth-busting of Canadian stereotypes.

Vancouver's cultural diversity was represented in the hundreds of
jumping Grade 9ers holding snowboards in the opening sequence.  My
First Nations 2nd cousin was there – his mother was very proud.  But
all the featured performers were White – with the exception of K-OS. 
And most of the volunteer performers of colour were dressed as hip-hop
dancers, instead mounties, lumberjacks and hockey players.  Because
there are no Asian hockey players in the NHL – but that's another
Canadian Myth that's been busted since Larry Kwong played one game in
the NHL in 1948, 10 years before Willie O'Ree became the first black
hockey player in 1958.

A Few days later the same Pete McMartin quoted Tung Chan in an opinion piece –
Opinion – An Olympic Games as white as snow

But read the comments to the above piece, or to Craig Takeuchi's pieces in the Georgia Straight.
2010 Olympic closing ceremony: Why wasn't there any aboriginal content?

Vancouver 2010 Olympics: The Great White, er, Multicultural North?

Despite all the crowd cheering, street filling patriotism, when Canada
wins a gold medal hockey game, there is still a dark anonymous racism
that haunts all the internet comments, and rears its head at any hint
of “affirmative action” or ethnic inclusion.

This is the next story.   This is the next stage of insight. 

The aim of the Closing ceremonies was to have some fun, poking fun at
Canadian stereotypes, and doing some “myth busting.”  But one of the
myths that got reinforced is that Canada is White.  Despite generations
of immigration from all around the world, Canada cannot find a
performer of colour good enough to speak at or perform at and during
the Closing ceremonies. 

Would it have hurt Canadians if one of the chorus line lumberjacks,
mounties, or hockey players had been a shade of colour other than
white?  Would we have heard a chorus of boos, if one of the mounties
had worn a turban?

We know that racial discrimination in sports can be cruel to kids growing up, so it can't be
a wonder why our top athletes are mostly White.  But we have succeeded in
the Arts.

Where was Indo-Canadian comedian Russell Peters?
Canadians of multi-ethnicity are cool and sexy.  What better examples
do we have than actors Kristin Kreuk of Smallville?  or Lisa Ray of
Bollywood?  Even Keanu Reeves primarily grew up in Toronto, despite
being born in Lebanon – but we didn't hold Steve Nash's birthplace of
South Africa against him.

First Nations actors Graham Green and Tantoo Cardinal were good enough
for “Dances with Wolves” but not for the Closing Ceremonies?  And
Tantoo just received her Order of Canada too…

Our authors Joy Kogawa, Thomas King are amongst the most studied
authors in our Canadian high schools, colleges and universities. Wayson Choy and 7th generation descendant of Black Loyalists
George Elliot Clarke are also amongst our most loved – these four authors also are Order of Canada recipients.

We are not saying that Canada should enforce racial inclusivity
guidelines for its sports teams.  But we are saying that the closing
ceremonies lacked the representation of Canada's population, and it
reinforced every sad stereotype of Canada.  Alongside the Mounties,
lumberjacks, beavers and moose was the sad realization that Canada is
only populated by White people, despite multi-generations of accepting
people from all over the world.

And where are the bagpipes?

Canada's first Prime Minister, BC's first Premier, and Vancouver's
first mayor were all born in Scotland.  Has the former largest ethnic
group of Vancouver so much assimilated into mainstream culture, that
they have forgotten their ethnic roots?

The SFU Pipes and Drums is the six time and current World Champion pipe
band.  There are more bagpipers in Canada then there are in Scotland –
or is this a Canadian myth that we are not proud of?

Bagpipers have performed with Uzume Taiko, and Delhi 2 Dublin, – two
internationally recognized examples of cultural fusion music happening
in Vancouver.  To me, these are the examples of performers that should
have been featured at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, demonstrating
how Canadians have come from all over the world, put aside our racial
differences, and blend our cultures, and our shared our histories

This is the Canada that I am proud of – not the beer swigging garage
band party music that was featured – without any relevance to the
historic Olympic successes that we witnessed over the past 17 days

More media stories about “lack of colour (and bagpipes)” in Vancouver 2010 Opening ceremonies

Stories critical of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies are in Vancouver Courier and Georgia Straight blogs.

Vancouver Courier: Allen Garr's

Much is continuing to be written about the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremonies that took place with great hoop-lah on Friday February 12th, in BC Place Stadium.  Yes, there were the Four Host Nations welcoming the world to their ancestral (and unceded) lands.  Yes, there were Canadian Aboriginal peoples from all across the nation, dancing and drumming, while Bryan Adams and and Nelly Furtado took the spotlight and sang a new Adams' song “Beat the Drum.”

And then…. a show that has brought complaints from across the country, as Federal Minister James Moore has said “there wasn't enough French-Canadian content.”

Even Quebec Permier Jean Charest, as he sat next to
VANOC CEO John Furlong at a news conference Monday said, “Not at the level we were expecting,” said “It wasn’t

I admit that enjoyed watching the show. And my girlfriend and I watched
it twice… but we were also playing video and computer games during
the second time.

But we cannot ignore that so many people are
speaking out, and to so is to risk great peril. Clearly there is a
schism in the understanding of what make's us Canadian… as understood
by new immigrants of both Asian and Celtic origins, as well as
multi-generational Canadians of First Nations, Asian, Celtic, Gaelic,
British, French and European heritage.

Maybe like at Expo 67, we are discovering the point of how we see ourselves in the world, and in our own country.

especially liked Shane Koyczan's poem. He is indeed addressing the
values that push us to do better, to be more inclusive, and to always
try harder – just like my personal hero Terry Fox, who is very dear to
me, as I hold the SFU Terry Fox gold medal, as a recipient “for courage
in adversity and dedication to society.”

Remember what happened after the Closing Ceremonies in Turin?
Premier Gordon Campbell criticized Turin closing ceremony display by
saying, “I thought there were lots of stereotypes that are not what the
new Canada is.”

I too understand that we cannot please everybody all the time, and that
some cultural groups will cry foul. But my experiences are also tainted
by growing up in a deliberate exclusion of systemic racism, where my
born-in-Canada grandmother could not vote in this country until after
her brothers and cousin had been reluctantly accepted into the Canadian
Forces due to pressure from Great Britain, and then sent on “Suicide
Missions” to be behind enemy lines in Burma.

For these reasons
I knew it was important to help save Joy Kogawa's childhood home from
demolition, where she was forced to leave at age 6 due to internment of

For these reasons, I know it is important
to support my cousin Chief Rhonda Larrabee whose mother's people had
their ancestral lands taken away from them, to create BC's first
capital city of New Westminster. And then to add insult, had their
reservation taken away, and their band name of Qayqayt was said to not
exist, because the people didn't live there anymore.

If we don't
speak out on these issues, now – then it is like the silence that
watches the Japanese Canadians put on trains and sent away, or like
knowing that First Nations children are in Residential schools. We know
something is wrong, but dare not speak.

I have tried to embrace
this country and it's foibles, despite hating the bagpipes when I was
little because it represented Colonialism. I speak better french, then
I do Chinese.

I understand the the Ceremonies wanted to emphasize “The Land” rather than the cultural diversity.  Even Margaret Atwood's great book “Survival” argues that there is indeed a distinct Canadian literature, with its own preoccupations, themes, and ideas specific to its history, geopolitics, and landscape.

But that was so 20th Century… Now in the 21st Century, it is about the geopolitics, our cultural diversity, and our place in the global world.

Yes John Furlong has done and amazing job with
VANOC. It is a very challenging, almost impossible task – But John
Furlong's terrible french pronounciation seems to be an apt metaphor
for VANOC's ceremonies team of understanding and including Canada's
multicultural history and culture.

But come on VANOC…. We Are More!!!!

Vancouver vs San Diego? vs Logan Lake?

2009_May 164 by you. Vancouver is called one of the “most livable cities” – kite flyers, sailboaters enjoy English Bay from Spanish Banks – photo Todd Wong

Vancouver vs San Diego? vs Logan Lake?
Vancouverism is an architectural concept for which diversity of use, diversity of space and diversity of people is included.

VANCOUVERISM is a wikipedia entry… and a traveling architectural exhibition to Paris and London.

SAN DIEGOISM is non-existent.

And where the heck is Logan Lake?

Vancouverism is also a touring exhibition to London and Paris. see:

Last weekend in Vernon, when somebody from Logan Lake found out I was from Vancouver, they complained about how “unfriendly” Vancouver was – especially about parking.  I had to ask where Logan was located.  Answer: between Kamloops, Merritt and Cache Creek. It is tiny with a population of only 2,100 people.  The Metro Vancouver area has a population of 2,116,581.  This person complained that mass transit didn't help him when he visited Vancouver, and that there is no freeway.

I pointed out that you cannot apply rural values and issues on a large city and expect similar results. Vancouverites fought against a freeway through Chinatown and Strathcona neighborhoods.  I told him that ubanist Jane Jacobs moved from the U.S.A. to Toronto because she declared it “more livable,” and today Jacob's son Ned Jacobs lives in Vancouver's Little Mountain neighborhood for it's livability where he leads an annual Jane's Walk.

Todays' Vancouver Sun newspapers reported on a San Diego news blogger 

San Diego blogger Arthur Saim compares Vancouver to San Diego, and says that Vancouver is “depressing” for him when he thinks  about the potentials for San Diego. Many comments on the blog have focussed on the social problems of Vancouver

See original article:

I think the key to Vancouver is its inclusion of diversity.  Whether it is the architectural concept of Vancouverism incorporating mixed use development, of community and industrial and business needs, – or the cultural diversity of its population.  Vancouver is many things to many people.  This is both it's strength and weakness.

Here are some links and quotes about Vancouverism:

“Vancouverism is characterized by tall, but widely separated,
slender towers interspersed with low-rise buildings, public spaces,
small parks and pedestrian-friendly streetscapes and facades to
minimize the impact of a high density population.”
-The New York Times, December 28, 2005

The word first entered the argot of American architects and city
planners over the past decade, who began speaking of “Vancouverizing”
their under-populated, un-loved urban cores, seeking inspiration from
Canada’s Pacific portal’s re-development successes. Our city has become
first a verb, and now, an ideology promoting an urbanism of density and
public amenity. Vancouverism at its best brings together a deep respect
for the natural environment with high concentrations of residents.
Within condominium residential towers downtown and courtyard and
boulevard-edging mid-rise buildings elsewhere in the city,
Vancouverites are learning to live tightly together; a healthy,
engaging – even thrilling place.

Not Asia, not Europe, not even North America, but a new kind of city
living with elements from all of these – a hybrid that now demands to
be taken on its own terms. In the language of city-building,
“Vancouverism” is fast replacing “Manhattanism” as the maximum power
setting for shaping the humane mixed-use city, important ideas for a
new era of scarce energy and diminished natural resources.


“Vancouverism is evolving a second and more interesting sense: that
of the latent character, the subjective quirks of urban identity hidden
behind these shiny façades. Call it the theory, or the legacy, or the
idea of Vancouver, but increasingly our writers are producing books
that capture this precious moment of self-knowledge, as this
good-looking adolescent of a city enters a more complicated young

Meredith Quartermain’s new collection of poetry, Vancouver Walking,
deals with this latter sense of Vancouverism, her word-images evoking
our hidden histories and the textures of our streets, especially on the
East Side.

Lance Berelowitz’s Dream City: Vancouver and the Global Imagination
deals with the bricks and mortar and geographies of this town, a
rah-rah appreciation of our downtown and our more officially sanctioned
westerly zones.

Lance Berelowitz is a consultant to the urban development industry
who came to Vancouver from his native South Africa in 1985, after a
decade studying architecture and working in Europe… The first half of Dream
City, in particular has a “Gee whiz, aren’t we bloody marvelous” tone,
no doubt born of these prior commissions. “Vancouver is the poster
child of urbanism in North America” is his opening sentence, and too
much of the book varnishes over that poster with multiple coats of

Save TLC committee is the best prepared to lead The Land Conservancy of BC for the Aug 8th election of new board.

The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) is holding an Extraordinary General Meeting on August 8th to elect new board members.

TLC founder Bill Turner gives a positive “thumbs-up” approval with proposed board members from the Save TLC Committee.  They all attended a one day workshop and meeting on July 5th in Saanich with other proposed board members, committee members and community leaders.
Standing: Todd Wong, Bill Turner, Ken Millard, Magnus Bien
Sitting: Cheryl Bryce, Elspeth McVeigh, Briony Penn

The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) is one of the important players in land conservancy in Canada.  It is a non-profit organization, based on the The National Trust of England, Ireland and Wales.  TLC purchases lands and creates environmental convenants in order to lands, and buildings of environmental, scientific, historical, cultural, scenic and recreational value that would otherwise be loss to destruction, demolition, or development.

TLC: What happened?

On March 27, TLC executive director and founder Bill Turner was “fired” without warning or rational explanation.  This is only three years after the founding visionary was appointed the Order of Canada for  “his tremendous energy and selfless dedication to preserve his province's
natural environment. A realtor, he founded the Land Conservancy of
British Columbia (TLC) to advocate for the protection of the
environment through conservation covenants and ecological gifts.”

According to Save TLC website Q's and A's “At the same time, “another Director gained access to TLC's head offic, once the staff had left for the day, disabled TLC's communications network and changed the locks on the doors.

When Turner was notified of his firing, a replacement had already been hired – without any public search.  Now to be called  Chief Operating Officer (COO) this replacement has no experienc managing land trusts or non-profit organizations, and has never even worked in one.  On Monday, March 30, the COO also fired TLC's long-time Deputy Executive Director, Ian Fawcett – again, without warning and without any explanation.

TLC members were shocked to learn of the events, and of the allegations by the TLC board about the TLC founder Bill Turner.  The Save TLC committee was founded to support the return of Bill Turner and senior management staff to TLC.  As well, the TLC committee has diligently worked to challenge the TLC board on its allegations, and to inform TLC members about these events.

The Save TLC committee has recruited 11 proposed board members that have worked with TLC in many capacities and/or have related experience and background to helping TLC recover from this current situation.

Both the Save TLC committee and TLC Board have
agreed on a procedure that would see all members of TLC vote to
elect a full 11 member Board at the EGM. All Directors of the current
board will resign at the EGM and those eligible may stand for

I am pleased that Bill Turner asked me, Todd Wong, to be on the Save TLC slate.  I have worked with TLC and Bill Turner since December 2005, when TLC became partners with the Save Kogawa House Committee, in an effort to save the childhood home of famous Canadian author Joy Kogawa from demolition. 

I have always been interested in the history of BC, and especially its pioneers.   I have always loved the natural history of BC, and am very aware of the need to protect its environments and eco-systems.  I was honoured that David Kogawa nominated me for the BC Community Achievement Award, citing my community work with the Save Kogawa House Committee, as well as my multicultural community events for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

Former Founding Director Briony Penn has written a letter and sent it out to friends and members of TLC.  Briony writes:

I have received a large number of calls and emails from members
asking me who to vote for regarding the upcoming mail-in ballot for
electing 11 new Board members of  TLC The Land Conservancy of BC and
what my thoughts are.

will be receiving a ballot with 23 names. I would recommend this
wonderful team of grassroot individuals with trusted and proven
experience with land trusts that have put their names forward under the
ballot of Save TLC ( and consider them for the board. Then
vote through the mail-in ballot which you will be sent.

Barry Glickman, professor of biology at UVic
Cheryl Bryce, lands manager for Songhees and spokesperson on First Nations issues of land conservation
Magnus Bein, an ecologist working on the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program in the interior
Alastair Craighead, former Victoria City councillor and cycling activist
Elspeth McVeigh, a Vancouver business woman and historic building specialist
David Merner, a dynamic conflict resolution lawyer and community volunteer
Ken Millard, a veteran lands trust director and Galiano Islander
Carol Pickup a retired Saanich coucillor interested in heritage conservation
Frances Pugh, a farmer and chair of the Saanich Inlet Protection Society
Todd Wong who was active in Vancouver on the Joy Kogawa House and an award winning multiculturalist community organizer
and myself, a Founding Director of TLC and consultant environmental communication/education

have already met as a group and identified our respective skills and
roles that we would bring to restore the organization. All of us are
hard workers in our communities and understand that the financial
security of the organization relies on the relationships we form with
members/donors as this is our biggest asset for the long term financial
and social stability of the organization.

We have all spent time
going over financial statements and addressing the financial
allegations levelled at the senior management by the existing Board
with an independent chartered accountant and a trust lawyer expert that
we hired. The allegations were incorrect and a misinterpretation of the
Charitable Purposes Preservation Act. No law has ever been broken, the
lawyers that resigned were going on verbal advice based on an informal
conversation (one lawyer's)  about blending trust fund accounts, which
is common practice for charities. It is only illegal in a lawyer's
practice in some instances e.g., where you need to separate different
client's accounts that are accruing interest. (for full legal opinion,
trust lawyer David John's letter will be on the tlc website tomorrow,

Ironically, the old board did put forward a motion
to sell Keating Farm which would have been illegal under the Act.  The
Board perceived they needed to do this to alleviate  “crippling debt”
but this again was an incorrect characterization according to the
accountant. The organization was healthy at the point when the staff
were fired. At the end of the day, nothing has waivered our belief in
the skills, competence and commitment of the staff. We did identify
many areas for improvement including the need for Board members to
spend more time fund raising and working directly with the Executive
Director and staff so the two solitudes of Board and Staff never occurs

Part of the biggest problem I believe was that the Board
became more and more distanced from and distrustful of senior staff
because of a difference of interpretation over the financial
circumstances, the law and the selling of properties. The latest slate
of members are already doing their homework and have started on a full
analysis of what went wrong. All of us have worked on projects from the
trenches—either as activists, donors, in political and other supporting
roles. We all know what it takes to make projects successful, attract
members and keep the money rolling in. I believe this slate consists of
people capable of working even in the most challenging circumstances.
That might be what we face August 8th.

Prior to us getting
together last week, Bill Turner had picked me up from the Sunday 6:15
am ferry and we went to Elk Lake to set up the Bottle Drive for TLC. We
spent the next couple of hours picking up and assembling the stands,
bags and tables for the bottle drive. The bottle drive was part of our
commitment to raise money for TLC as the membership contingent of Save
TLC which has been very successful with over $100, 000 raised in a
month. When you are considering which board members to vote for and who
should lead the organization, consider asking the different candidates
who got up at 6 on a Sunday morning to get a bottle drive organized to
raise the funds to save special places?

I know where my vote lies.