“Toddish McWong”- the creator of “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.”
What are Canadian values? and Canadian diversity?
Who makes them: Canadian citizens? Immigrant Canadians?
or Jason Kenney – minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism?
Jason Kenney is the federal minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism. He presided over the Chinese Canadian Head Tax redress, that resulted in Prime Minister Stephen Harper giving a parliamentary apology for a racist tax but only gave an ex-gratia payments that recognized less than 1% of head tax certificates, because it was limited to only surviving head tax payers and spouses… most have long since died since Margaret Mitchell first brought up the the issue of Head Tax Redress in the Canadian Parliament back in 1984.
Recently, Jason Kenney waded into the discussion about Canadian identity, and immigration language classes, when he talked with editors at the Calgary Herald:
New Canadians, says Kenney, “have a duty to integrate.” Further, he
says, “We don't need the state to promote diversity. It is a natural
part of our civil society.”
To that end, the government has
sensibly ceased funding programs such as heritage language classes. Why
should the federal government pay for children to learn the language of
the country their parents and grandparents come from? It's the family's
responsibility to teach children about their heritage, including the
The original story appeared in the Calgary Herald on March 20th.
Kenney right person for immigration minefield
The same story appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on March 30th (with comments)
Kenney stands for Canada
Today, the same story appeared in the Vancouver Sun on April 1st, with a new title:
Immigration minister is right to stand up for Canadian values.
But this time, it appeared with a picture of Todd Wong aka “Toddish McWong” with the caption:
Now, that's heritage: 'Toddish McWong' combines Robert Burns Night and Chinese New Year.
I have to be flattered that my picture has appeared in the news media.
But while the original story never mentioned “Toddish McWong” or “Gung Haggis Fat Choy,” a picture of Wong is used mainly to capture the reader's attention and draw them to the article.
But I am a bit confused as to what the picture is meant to represent?
Is it because:
1 “Being Canadian means being everything to everyone who comes to our shores?”
2 – “People want to define Canada by how many politically correct contations this country can do to accomodate others?”
3 – “New Canadians have a duty to integrate,” says Kenney. “We don't need the state to promote diversity. It is a natural part of our ciivl society.”
The article, by Naomi Lakritz of the Calgary Herald, goes on to share Kenney's views that: “the government has sensibly ceased funding programs such as heritage language classes [other than english or french].”
“I think it's really neat that a fifth generation Ukrainian Canadian can speak Ukrainian… but pay for it yourself,” Kenney says. Kenney's right… it is neat. If you can speak your family's mother tongue, your life is just that much more enriched. But such immersion in heritage shouldn't come at the expense of you identifying yourself as a Canadian first… and it certainly shouldn't come at Canadian taxpayer's expense.”
The article also goes on to give an example of how Kenney says that a grant for language training to the Canadian Arab Federation will not be renewed: “The government should support moderate mainstream voices, not people on the fringe.”
The Gung Haggis Fat Choy events that I have created since 1998 have never received any federal grant money.
I am a fifth generation Chinese Canadian that speaks better French than Chinese.
I am a descendant of Chinese head tax payers.
I have travelled to Oak Bay in Nova Scotia, walked the Plains of Abraham in Quebec, stood on Point Pelee in Ontario, skiied in Banff Alberta, visited totem poles in Haida Gwaii, and even stood on the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg during windchilled Winter.
I have been the guest speaker at a Terry Fox Run in Beijing, China.
By creating Gung Haggis Fat Choy events, my aim is to recognize both the pioneer histories of Chinese Canadians and Scottish Canadians, as well as the future of Canadians born with these shared ancestries.
I believe that culture evolves, and is not stagnant.
I believe that all Canadians should read “How to Be a Canadian” by Will Ferguson and his brother Ian Ferguson.
If it is a Canadian value to laugh, make fun of ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously, then maybe this book should also be mandatory reading when all new immigrants apply to become Canadian citizens, along with learning English or French.
And that's what Gung Haggis Fat Choy also encourages us to do… laugh and make fun of ourselves, by flipping stereotypes of Scottish and Chinese tradional customs into juxtapositions of cultural fusion.