Category Archives: 2007 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner

Kogawa House farewell event to Deborah Willis, our 4th writer-in-residence

Deborah Willis hosted her final reading at Historic Joy Kogawa House where she has been writer-in-residence since January.  John Asfour, our first writer-in-residence, was a surprise guest, as he is in town from Montreal for book launches of his new work Blindfold.
Deborah now goes on to her next writer in residence in Spain, and at University of Calgary,
Deborah Willis read a new short story that she had written while at Kogawa House.  The final event at the house was attended by friends, students and members of Kogawa House Society.
Prior to the reading, we had a dinner with members of the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society Board.  We were joined by Tamsin Baker, Vancouver area manager for The Land Conservancy of BC – owners of Kogawa House.  Author John Asfour was a surprise guest.  left to right in the photo is Tamsin, Deborah, Christine, Ann-Marie Metten and John Asfour.

Wind on False Creek makes white capped waves for dragon boat practice

Wind on False Creek makes white capped waves for dragon boat practice


We had a wonderful practice tonight….
Paddlers said it was one of the best.
The sun was out… the wind was up, whitecaps in False Creek – YIKES!

our paddlers rose to the challenge.  Waves hit the sides of the boat,
and sometimes came in.  People got wet… some the wettest ever at a
practice.  But it was a great practice.  20 paddlers in a Gemini boat.  We started with a warm-up paddle to Cambie St. Bridge.  We did a 500m race piece to prepare for the May 19th Bill Alley memorial dragon boat regatta organized by the Lotus Sports Club.

We raced practice starts with a team that was
Rec B last year… And we stayed right with them for a start.  After the start we were about 6 to 10 feet behind. This was the closest we had been to them all Spring… up to now, they usually left us way behind. And we had 3 newbie paddlers + 3 rookies on the boat!  Last
year we were Rec E.  We want to be Rec B this year… and we are well on
our way.

After the race pieces we looked at correcting things that needed improving such as our timing, and technique.  We did some speed drills, some small group work, then worked on our starts. 

We have a good dedicated core crew who come every practice on Tuesday 6pm, and Sunday 1pm.
Some of the paddlers have been with us 3 years.  Our drummer/steers will have her 5th year with us.  Ex-paddlers still come to race with us.  It's good to have friends.

year we raced 9 dragon boat race + 2 voyageur canoe races.  We love to
race… and we travelled to Seattle, Victoria, Vernon, Cultus Lake, and
Burnaby.  We raced in teak, 6-16, and Gemini boats, Dynasty boats in
Vernon, Millenium boats in Victoria, and Taiwanese Cedar boats in

And we love to eat… We
have a Tuesday Night Food Club after practice.  Each week we try to go to a different restaurant.  Usually we go out for Chinese food… we like Foo's Ho Ho and Hon's Won Ton House in Chinatown… Sometimes we go to Congee House on Broadway and Main St.  But tonight we went the The Clubhouse Japanese restaurant, and were promptly greeted by the manager Karen.  She remembered us from last year and welcomed us back. 


Join the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat food and social club.

Todd Wong
coach and clan chieftain
gunghaggis @ yahoo dot ca

Gung Haggis Fat Choy reported on Dr. Fred Bass' new blog

Gung Haggis Fat Choy reported on Dr. Fred Bass' new blog

Over the last few years, the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner has caught the
attention of many of our city councillors and mayors, past and
present.  Dr. Fred Bass,
former city councillor and 2008 mayoral hopeful came to our 2007
dinner, sitting with Anne Roberts, also a former city councillor on the
previous council.  Also attending this year's dinner were current
mayor Sam Sullivan, current councillors Heather Deal, Peter Ladner and
Suzanne Anton, and former councillor Ellen Woodsworth.

I have gotten to know Fred over the past year and we discovered many
connections through health interests, library connections, exercise,
and city issues such as saving Joy Kogawa House.  Fred's
enthusiasm for fitness and preventative healthcare is expressed through
his fondness for bicycling.  He even came out this summer to try
dragon boat paddling and was a very enthusiastic novice.

Fred now has a blog and on January 30th, he wrote:

“On January 28, I had the good fortune to attend Gung Haggis Fat
Choy–China meets Scotland and vice versa. Under the skilled and
persistent leadership of Todd Wong, this event has turned into one
of Vancouver's most wonderful multi-cultural celebrations.

There was music, Chinese classical performed eloquently by Silk
, Western opera sung gracefully by Heather Pawsey, American
pop belted out by Leora Cashe, classic bagpipe and Chinese pop classics.
In traditional Robbie Burns celebration style, the gathering did
a reasonable number of Scottish sing-alongs. However, the ultimate
musical experience for me was Joe McDonald's performance of rap
in full Scottish brogue!

There was laughter. Whether during the music, the speeches, or
the appreciations, people proved themselves to be in good humour.
To see a multi-ethnic crowd so enjoying themselves was to honour
one of Vancouver’s greatest strengths—our multi-culturalism.

Not only is this sharing of cultures and identities vital to the
life of our city, it is a key strength in our economic development.
Research has shown that an important factor in the growth of research
and development businesses is the presence of a high proportion
of immigrants in the population. Furthermore, knowledge-based industries
have employees who want an interesting and vital community to live
in, and the many cultures of Vancouver provide this…

This event, at $75 a plate, was a
fund-raiser for a number of worthy causes: Save Kogawa House, Asian
Canadian Writer's Workshop, and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dragon Boat
Team. The driving force in Gung Haggis is Todd Wong.   I had
the good fortune to serve as a novice under Todd Wong’s captainship in
a multicultural dragon boat crew. He was patient, knowledgeable,
reasonably demanding and always in good humour.

We are very lucky in Vancouver to have people such as Todd Wong
who are so talented, so committed to the community, and who can,
as he showed Sunday night, play a mean accordion.”

Check out more of what Dr. Fred Bass thought about the 2007 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner at

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2007 Dinner – Awesome… Really Awesome!

Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2007 Dinner – Awesome… Really Awesome!

Big Big compliments abounded.

Thank you Priya Ramu… your presence was wonderful, you and the
mini-kilt were over the top!  You've been properly Gung Haggisized!

Thank you Qiu Xia and Andre – Silk Road Music… what a pair you
are!  So Gung Haggis!  You set us off on a musical journey
and we followed.

Thank you Heather Pawsey… you astound us everytime!
Thank you Kathryn… you jumped right in with your beautiful flute for your first Gung Haggis experience.

Thank you Leora Cashe and Jaye Krebs… your performance blew us away. Welcome to the Clan

Thank you Joe, Chris and Nealamjit – what a broad aural experience that
Brave Waves always colours GHFC with!  You make it texturally

Thank you Lensey Namioka!  Your reading of Half and Half described our food, and was a hoot!

Thank you Trevor, Matt and Paul.  No Luck Club brought a special ambience to our
reception, and your production of the Gung HAGGIS RAP Choy, was a

Thank you Margaret Gallagher! You embrace Gung Haggis Hapa-ness! and project it so well!

Thank you Grace & Zen – wonderful performance that had people
laughing at Asian dating!  Hope more people will come see Twisting

Thank you Ian Mason- our resident Burns expert, you brought in Eco-Burns – WOW!

Thank you Harry Aoki – you bring a special presence with your
incredible support for the Joy Kogawa House, and you ethno-musical
knowledge, your bass and your harmonica.

Thank you Charlie Cho, you kept us on track and we were s-m-o-o-t-h!

Thank you Carl Schmidt, you made us sound great, looked after us on stage! WOW!

Thank you to our dedicated volunteers from Ricepaper Magazine and
Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  You are our face to the
public when they arrive, check in, buy our raffle tickets, and deliver
their prizes.  You are truly special.

Thank you to our audience members for being so attentive and
appreciative of our show.  Special thanks to Mayor Sam Sullivan
for reading a Chinese poem and giving a warm Vancouver welcome. 
More special thanks to Ellen Woodsworth, Jaime Edwards, Heather Deal,
Peter Ladner and Emma “McChan” for each reading a verse of Robbie
Burns' immortal poem about equality – “A Man's A Man For All That.”

Thank you to our many sponsors for prizes… that really reflect our
intercultural and multicultural society!  Especially to Joseph
Roberts and Common Ground for sponsoring our head table and posters,
and to Sandhill Wines for providing wine for our event, and to Firehall
Arts Centre for selling our tickets and mailing them out to our
patrons.  Thank you to Floata Restaurant for making our haggis dim
sum, and providing a wonderful venue for our event.

Tickets for Gung Haggis Fat Choy on the weekend.

Tickets for Gung Haggis Fat Choy on the weekend.

There are limited tickets available at the door.

Cost is:

$75 for regular seating
$85 for Premium seating (closer seating + 2 bottles of wine on the table)

For reservations call:
Todd Wong

Tickets must be picked up between 5:00 pm and 6:00pm or they will be released back for sale.

Prizes for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2007 dinner

Prizes for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy 2007 dinner

We thank our prize sponsors for their wonderful donations that support our event.

raised go to help spread multiculturalism and interculturalism in our
communities, through the efforts of Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop /
Ricepaper Magazine, Joy Kogawa House, and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy
dragon boat team.

When you come to our Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner event on January 28th, Sunday – please purchase raffle tickets to win:

3 passes to Firehall Arts Centre's BANANA BOYS –

           by  Leon Aureus – based on the novel by Terry Woo
           5 Chinese Canadian men learn about life's issues

1 pass to Vancouver OperaMagic Flute – Mozart's magical opera with a special
            First Nations theme

            January 26 – February 8th

1 pass to Arts Club Theatre's The Optimists

           February 8 – March 3

passes to Twisting Fortunes – new play by Charlie Cho and Grace Chin

passes to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden

1 VIP pass to the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival

wine from Sandhill Wines from award winning Chinese-Canadian winemaker Howard Soon


subscriptions to Ricepaper Magazine – Canada's only national journal of Asian Canadian arts and culture

seats in the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat float for the St. Patrick's Day Parade for Celtic Fest

mini-readings from astrologer John Rutherford

special items from Government of Scotland

books donated by Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop

picnic packs donated by The Land Conservancy of BC


24 Hours – Burns Fete Looks to the East


Who says there's no free lunch?
Full Story

Haggis, Scotland's national dish, was served yesterday to all
comers at Simon Fraser University's Robbie Burns Day celebration on
Burnaby Mountain.

Scotland's national poet, born Jan. 25, 1759, inspires annual
ceremonies worldwide with pipers, dancers and the traditional Address
to a Haggis ritual. SFU's had a unique made- in-B.C. flavour, thanks to
Todd Wong.

Wong's 10th annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy banquet, celebrating
Burns and the coming Chinese lunar New Year, is Sunday at Chinatown's
Floata restaurant. Yesterday's second annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Highland Games featured human curling and dragon cart races.

“The first solitudes of Vancouver and B.C. were not English
and French, they were Scottish and Chinese,” said Wong, a
fifth-generation Chinese-Canadian and proud kilt-wearer known as
“Toddish McWong” at this time of year.

Media Alert for January 25th: CBC Radio “On The Coast”, Ming Pao and 24 Hours

Media Alert for January 25th: CBC Radio “On The Coast”, Ming Pao and 24 Hours

Happy Robbie Burns Day… 
4pm CBC Radio 690AM interview with Priya Ramu, host of “On The Coast”

Ming Pao will have an interview
with me today by reporter Eric Chan.  I met up with Eric yesterday
at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park in Chinatown.  Eric asked some good
questions about how I felt Chinese and Caucasian relationships were

“Much better than 100 years ago,” I informed him. 
“In 1907, the Anti-Asiatic league rioted in Chinatown smashing windows
and breaking property.  There used to be lots of animosity between
Chinese and Scots, especially after the murder of Janet Smith, a
Scottish nanny, when the Chinese house boy Wong Foon Sing was
wrongfully accused but later aquitted.

“Today, Chinese and Scots have gotten over their differences, getting married and having Scottish-Chinese-Canadian babies.

“Is this kind of gimicky?” Chan challenged me.

I laughed, “Gung Haggis Fat Choy is not gimicky.  It is naturally
occuring, and I am finding it all over the place.  Silk Road Music
creates world fusion music… not gimicky.  Orchid Ensemble works
with Flamenco Mozaico… very incredible!  A book launch for “All
Mixed Up” literary creations by writers who are sometimes half-Asian,
and half-Celtic.  This is occuring naturally.  Vancouver is
Canada's leading city for inter-racial marriages.”

Today, January 25th is Robbie Burns Day.

going to be another busy day.  The SFU Gung Haggis Fat Choy
Festival begins at 10:30am with Human Curling, 11:30 with Dragon Cart
Racing, 12:30 Opening Ceremonies, 1:15 Haggis Eating, 1:30 More Dragon
Cart racing and awards at 2:30pm.

Somewhere between calling play
by play for the Dragon Cart races and emceeing for the Official
ceremonies, I will be interviewed by Bob Mackin of 24 Hours, and film a
pod cast interview with “Guts McTavish” the Scottish puppet with big white eyebrows.

At 4:00pm, I will be down at the CBC Radio studios for a live radio interview with “On The Coast” host Priya Ramu
who will be co-hosting Gung Haggis Fat Choy on January 28th with
me.  A special kilt was made for Priya, and we will check out this
“kilt fitting.”  Margaret Gallagher will also appear on the
show.  She is a special literary performer for GHFC, as she will
be reading a poem she wrote for the chap book “All Mixed Up” – literary
contributions by Hapa (Half-Asian) writers,

Then for 6pm… I
will be attending the Burns Supper for the Burns Club of Vancouver, at
the Terminal City Club.  I am to give the “Address to a Haggis.”

Media Alert: for Gung Haggis Fat Choy – interviews with Todd Wong on Global TV, The Source and CBC Radio-Canada

Media Alert: for Gung Haggis Fat Choy
– interviews with Todd Wong on Global TV, The Source and CBC Radio-Canada

Wednesday morning I did an interview with “The Link” a CBC Radio-Canada satellite program.  It is aimed at international audience and new immigrant audience.  This show will be broadcast on Robbie Burns Day, January 25th, and they will include our Gung HAGGIS RAP Choy – Robbie Burns Address to a Haggis set to rap music

Today, I spotted the tv interview with Erin Cebula for Global TV's Global Village.  Earlier this week, I heard from friends that they had seen it.  Great spot!  Erin edited in some still pictures of our Gung Haggis Fat Choy performers such as Qiu Xi He of Silk Road Music, and Joe McDonald, bagpiper, cutting up the haggis.  They even showed a picture of me with then mayor, Larry Campbell, both wearing kilts and clashing chinese jackets.  There was also a sequence with Fiona Tinwei Lam reading her poetry, at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy World Poetry Night on January 15th, Monday, at the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch.

And I picked up a copy of  The Source/ La Source, a bilingual newspaper, with an interview and picture of me. 


When people ask Todd Wong if he has Scottish heritage he answers coyly that “all Canadians
have Scottish heritage…. as they do Chinese heritage.” He has been helping Vancouverites
find theirs for ten years with his Gung Haggis Fat Choy combination Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New Year celebration.
It is a banquet with multiple
courses of fusion cuisine – such as haggis spring rolls – accompanied by entertainment
and music to brighten the spirits at this dark time of the year.

Today I was interviewed by Ming Pao chinese language newspaper

Wow…. spreading the word and philosophy of Robbie Burns… in English, in French and Chinese!

Sandhill Wines becomes the “official wine sponsor” of Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Sandhill Wines becomes the “official wine sponsor” of Gung Haggis Fat Choy

The multiple award winning Sandhill Wines
was the first BC wine to win a gold medal at the Chardonnay du Monde in
France (1999) and a silver medal in 2002.  “There were only 2
golds given to Canadian Chard for the first time that year,” says
Sandhills creator and winemaker
Howard Soon, “and only 14 Gold out of a total of about 800 wines entered around the world”.

Howard Soon, is the first Chinese-Canadian winemaker
and while admitting he is a humble man,  he is also very
creative.  He is also the first winemaker to invite an opera
singer (Heather Pawsey) to
perform beside giant 100,000 gallon wine tanks. How fitting that
Sandhill be the first wine sponsor for Gung Haggis Fat Choy: Toddish
McWong's Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

Wines is pleased to be a sponsor for our event, and appreciated that we
are promoting BC's Scottish and Chinese heritage.  There will be a
display banner of Sandhill wines, and there will be a bottle each of
red and white wine on each Premium table.  There will also be
wines included in our evening's raffle prize draw, which will also
include a grand prize of tickets to the Vancouver Opera's Magic Flute
production featuring First Nations heritage and culture.

year we decided to select BC wines to pair with the haggis and Chinese
banquet at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.  One reason is that we
were disappointed in the wine selection at the restaurant. 
Chinese restaurants generally do not serve a lot of wines with dinner,
nor do they stock good selections of wine. The second reason is that
this was a great way to continue the Gung Haggis spirit by not only
recognizing BC history, arts, culture and food, but to also extend it
to wine!  I was delighted that we could find quality wine with
Sandhill at a reasonable price, and recognize the achievements of
fellow Chinese-Canadian Howard Soon.  The third reason… my
girlfriend and I like nice BC wines.

For the 2005 Gung Haggis
Fat Choy dinner, we chose wines from Sandhill, Arrow Leaf and Red
Rooster wineries and put a bottle of red and a bottle of white on each
of the premium priced tables.  It was still the tail end of the
Year of the Rooster for last year's Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner, so we
thought it was a nice touch to recognize the Chinese New Year zodiac

actually met Howard at the inaugural Okanagan Summer Wine Festival held
outside Vernon BC, at Silver Star Mountain Resort in August 2003. 
It was a small wine festival outdoor in the Silver Star Village. We had
a nice chat, and I shared with him that I had been working with explorAsian Festival and I thought he should be listed in the Asian North America Timeline Project.

1) Kathryn Cernauskas, Heather Pawsey, Karen
Shumka and Master Winemaker Howard Soon. 2) peformance in the wine
cellar next to barrels of wine. 3) performance next to the 100,000
gallon wine tanks.

Here is an article about opera singer Heather Pawsey singing in a wine vat, at the invitation by Howard Soon:
Vancouver Courier – “Tasting Notes”

Here are some articles about Howard Soon and Sandhill Wines:

Gismondi On Wine

Soon believes that the 2003 vintage of that wine, which sells for
$12.99, is a better wine. That victory in competition was not a one-off
event. …

Calgary Herald: Not Soon forgotten Howard
Soon dreams of a winery that will house his wines, some of the most …
who work with Soon on a daily basis to grow the perfect grapes for his

Howard Soon Interview by John Schreiner
An interview with Sandhill Master Winemaker, Howard Soon: ''When a guy buys a bottle of wine, it is an expression of a place.