Category Archives: Vancouver 2010 Olympics

One year ago… I was paddling a dragon boat flotilla to accompany the

One year ago…  An Olympic flame was carried by an Italian-South Asian-Canadian Olympic kayaker on False Creek…..

and I was paddling in the accompanying flotilla from the dragon boat and outrigger canoe community.

Olympic gold medalist canoeist Hugh Fisher carries the Olympic Flame, along Granville Island.  Hugh helped to found the False Creek Racing Canoe Club for the inaugural Vancouver dragon boat races in 1986, held during Expo 86.


The Olympic torch has been passed – to Kamini Jain, Olympic kayaker @ 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games, from Hugh Fisher, gold and bronze medalist paddler at 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. – photo Todd Wong.

We launched the 6 dragon boats and 6 outrigger canoes from Vanier Park, @ Kits Point, right beside the Coast Guard Station @ Burrard Marina.  I was lead stroke with Marina McCready, formerly of the False Creek Women's Team.

we were part of a flotilla of 6 dragon boats + 6 outrigger canoes,
that accompanied the torch bearers in a voyageur canoe and a dragon
boat = 140 dragon boat paddlers + 45 canoe paddlers = 185 paddlers + 2
torch bearers!

Hugh Fisher with his 1984 kayaking medaling partner Alwyn Morris.  Morris is Mohawk First Nations, and was a torch bearer on the Kahnawake Reserve outside of Montreal.  It was Morris, a full-blooded Mohawk who held up an eagle feather on the medal podium, after they received their gold medals for the Men's K-2 1,000m race at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Kamini took a picture with me and my friends Lisa and Gio – who was born in Italy!  Kamini was born in Tripoli, Libya, with South Asian and Italian ancestry.  Lisa and I are both multi-generation Canadians – she was born in Winnipeg, and I was born in Vancouver.

see more pictures on my Flickr account:

Feb 12 Dragon boat for Olympic Torch Relay

Feb 12 Dragon boat for Olympic…

149 photos, 3 videos

See last year's story:

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!!!!

Furlong doesn't get it. I doubt Closing Ceremonies will be more inclusive of Vancouver's Multicultural Diversity

don't think Furlong “gets it”.

Reflecting multicultural diversity isn't
about presenting stereotypes to the world or having “token heads of
state” – It's about how we as generations of so-called “visible
minorities” live our lives and make ourselves included in the

My God… even bagpipes weren't included
somewhere in the opening ceremonies, and our first Canadian Prime
Minister, first BC Premier and first Vancouver mayor were born in
Scotland. We have more bagpipers in Canada than there are in Scotland.
And the Chinese immigrants played major roles in BC history including
the railway, the head tax and chinese food restaurants.

assures closing ceremony will reflect everyone


groups, francophone leaders complained of opening ceremony snub


By Randy
Shore , with files from
Lindsay Kines, Vancouver Sun; with files from Canwest News Service
February 18, 2010

Olympic CEO John Furlong will not make changes to the closing ceremony of the
Winter Olympic Games despite complaints from leaders of the city's ethnic
groups about the content of the opening ceremony.

members of some ethnic communities — including Sukhi Sandhu and S.U.C.C.E.
S.S. chairman Peter Kwok — had complained that the opening ceremony omitted a
crucial aspect of Canadian life, the culture mosaic and the role of immigrants
in Canadian society.

an anti-racism activist and community volunteer who lives in Surrey ,
wrote to Furlong seeking a meeting with the Vancouver Organizing Committee to
air their concerns, but four days later Sandhu has no reply.

and others had hoped that visible minorities could be better showcased in the
closing ceremony.

stressed Wednesday that the closing ceremony is already planned and that it
will leave little doubt about “who we are and who is here.”

He said
telling the story of a country made up of people from all over the world is a
complex task, but the opening ceremony did a good job of reflecting
Canada .

feel like having a good cry,” said Sandhu. “We are surprised that it
takes this much energy to bring some common sense to people.”

not going to call any more, I'm not going to beg,” Sandhu said.

opening ceremony included strong first nations participation both in the show
and the dignitaries box. Four local first nations chiefs sat as heads of state
to welcome the world along with Canada 's
Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean and Premier Gordon Campbell.

But the
show contained little to represent the country's other major ethnic groups,
critics said.

Heritage and Official Languages Minister James Moore, Liberal leader Michael
Ignatieff and Quebec Premier Jean Charest complained that the ceremony didn't
include enough French language content.

Commissioner of Official Languages Graham Fraser will be investigating the
complaints, but because his mandate only allows him to probe federal institutions,
he will confine his investigation to Moore 's
heritage ministry, according to an e-mail sent to Canwest News Service by
Fraser's office.

will release a preliminary report on the level of bilingualism at the Games
following their conclusion.

complaints hinge on the $20 million in funding that Heritage Canada gave to the
Vancouver Organizing Committee for the opening ceremony, the most-watched
televised event in Canadian history.

is an agreement between the federal government … and Vanoc that came with a
certain amount of funding,” said Robin Cantin, a spokesman for the
language commissioner's office. “And that agreement came with some
language provisions.”

College sociologist Indira Prahst will watch the
closing ceremony carefully for signs of respect to
Canada 's visible minorities, but
she is not satisfied with Vanoc's response to complaints.

want to be blunt: This should have been addressed at the very outset,” she
said. “We should have showcased our diversity. Is this just a quick
response meant to pacify the community?”

really not enough,” she said. “I told Sukhi and the others that they
were unrealistic to expect major changes [to the ceremony] because there is so
much work, planning and technology that goes into it.”

they could have a person from a visible minority speak.”

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver


More visible minorities at closing, VANOC

Last Updated: Thursday, February 18, 2010
| 9:26 AM PT

CBC News

VANOC CEO John Furlong is hinting
Canada 's racial
diversity may be better represented in the closing ceremony of the Winter
Olympics after criticism that ethnic minorities were mostly missing from the

With its large South Asian and Chinese
communities, Metro Vancouver is one of
Canada 's most diverse regions.
Forty-one per cent of residents are part of visible minorities. But none of
that diversity appeared in the big show that opened the 2010 Winter Games on
Feb 12, critics say.

'We can't force ourselves on VANOC
if they don't welcome us.'
— Charan
Gill, CEO of Progressive Intercultural Community Services

Canadian-born Sukhi Sandhu wrote a letter
to Furlong, saying Olympic organizers missed an opportunity during the final
torch-lighting ceremony “to represent our nation's diversity.”

Sandhu said he and his family are proud
Canadians and excited to attend events at the Games, but he was disappointed
visible minorities were excluded from key roles during the opening ceremony.

“If I look at the eight individuals
who carried the Olympic flag and the final torchbearers, who are all rightfully
outstanding Canadians — no one is disputing that — however, out of
13 people there isn't one outstanding visible minority that you could think of
— David Suzuki, Donovan Bailey, Jerome Iginla or Daniel Igali,”
Sandu said.

Closing ceremony could offer more

It is not the first time the opening
ceremony has been criticized for its lack of diversity. Federal Heritage
Minister James Moore said earlier this week that “there should have been
more French.”

On Wednesday, Furlong defended the opening
ceremony but hinted the closing on Feb. 28 will be different.

“We did a very good job of showing
Canada and we
had a goal to tell a story, and at the closing ceremony … we will have a
very certain kind of celebration, and I don't think you'll have any doubt when
the ceremonies are over who we are and who's here.”

Sandhu said he doesn't want to just see
bhangra dancers or hear drumbeats. He wants to see accomplished visible
minorities represented in the closing ceremony.

“Our nation is a cultural mosaic, and
our diversity is our strength and frankly I am surprised in 2010 we need to
continue educating our leaders on this Canadian value,” he wrote.
“There is no shame or justifiable reason to not showcase this significant
part of our nation’s identity.”

His concerns are echoed by Peter Kwok, the
chairman of the immigrant services organization SUCCESS, which provides
services for new Chinese Canadians.

“You know we have Chinese New Year,
just a few days ago and when attending all those New Year's celebrations I have
been chatting with people and I've heard from quite a few people that they,
too, feel that it was a spectacular show,” Kwok said. “And they only
wish that they had a bit more portrayal of the multiculturalism in
Canada .”

Charan Gill, the CEO of the Progressive
Intercultural Community Services, an immigrant organization based in
Surrey , B.C., said he tried to reach out to VANOC to
encourage more visible minorities to get involved and volunteer for the Games
but got no response.

“We can't force ourselves on VANOC if
they don't welcome us,” he said.

Read more:


2010 Opening Ceremonies: What's wrong with this picture?

by Todd
on Sat 13 Feb 2010 11:27 PM PST 

I watched the opening ceremonies of the
Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and something didn't sit right with me. 
Vancouver is always being
touted as a multicultural city.  It is the “most Asian” city in
North America .  It is the city with the most
mixed-race relationships.

It was very nice to see a welcome from the Four Host Nations of Lil'Wat,
Musqueam, Squamish, and Tseil-Waututh nations.  Four totem poles were
raised, and each host nation welcomed the world in their own language, followed
by English and French.  And then other First Nations groups from across
Canada , were
also recognized: from the North; the East; and the Prairies.  It was a
wonderful way to acknowledge and infuse First Nations culture into the Opening

I also enjoyed how the many regions of
Canada were represented during the
Opening ceremonies.  The prairies of W.O. Mitchell's “Who Has Seen
The Wind”… the snow of the north… the fiddling of the Maritimes,
Quebec and the
East.  The killer whales were my favorite part.  Projected images of
light, moving across the floor, punctuated by actual puffs of water, to
simulate the exhaling of the whales.  But during after the fiddling was
over, I asked myself – “Where are the Chinese fiddles or erhus that are
part of Vancouver 's
multicultural music scene, and it's cultural history of 150 years of
immigration.  Where is the erhu from Madeleine Thein's children's book
“The Chinese violin”

It was an exciting moment to recognize and identify each of the flag carriers,
as the Olympic flag was brought in.  Donald Sutherland, Betty Fox, Barbara
Ann Scott, Gilles Villaneuve, Bobby Orr, Julie Payette, Anne Murray and Gen.
Romeo Dallaire.  I was especially excited to see Betty Fox, because I have
personally met her many times, as I have been a member of Terry's Team since
1993 – cancer survivors who speak at Terry Fox Runs and at schools.

Then anticipation for the final torch bearer.  A silouette of a man in a
wheel chair! Yay! It is Rick Hansen – my favorite choice to be the lighter of
the cauldron.  Rick passes the flame to Catriona Le May Doan, who passes
the flame to Wayne Gretzky, who passes the flame to Nancy Greene Raine. 
All four stand, as the caudron rises from the floor.  All four light the
cauldron together.  Whoops, only 3 light the cauldron, because one pillar
didn't rise out of the floor.  Was this a sign?  Was it a symbol?

But, I also saw a lack of diversity in the flag carriers and final torch
bearers.  While recognize and admirer each of the chosen flag carriers and
final torch bearers for their individual accomplishments and contributions to
Canadian society.

But…. if all the flag carriers, and final torch bearers had been male, we
would hear women complaining.  If all the flag carriers and final torch
bearers had been Anglophone, then the Francophones would be complaining. 
And if all the flag carriers and final torch bearers were blonde, would
brunettes, red heads and black haired people be complaining?  Yes!

Part of the selling point for winning the Olympic bid, is that Vancouver
is a multicultural city, and Canada 's
“Gateway to the Pacific.” Politicians and VANOC have been proudly
telling the world that every athlete from every competing nation will find
somebody in Vancouver
that speaks their language, cooks their food and could welcome them to their

And yes, David Suzuki, is a wonderful choice. He was the top living
“Greatest Canadian” in the CBC show and #5 overall.  Tommy
Douglas was #1 (whose son-in-law was flag carrier Donald Sutherland) and Terry
Fox was #2 (whose mother was Betty Fox, another flag carrier).  Wayne
Gretzky was #10.  Romeo Dallaire was #16, Bobby Orr #19 and Rick Hansen
#30. Chief Dan George was #80, Donovan Bailey #89, and Anne Murray #94.

There are many past gold medalists that could have been included.  Lori
Fung (gold LA 1984 Rhythmic Gymnastics).  Alwyn Morris (Gold & Bronze
LA 1984 Kayak-pairs) who had held up an eagle feather on the podium, Donovan
Bailey (Goldx2 Atlanta 1996 100m + 4X100 Relay), Daniel Igali (Gold Sydney 2000
Wrestling), Carol Huynh (Gold Beijing 2008 Wrestling), and Jerome Iginla (Gold
Salt Lake City 2002 Hockey).  Just the inclusion of one of these
medalists, or all of them, passing the flame onto the final four would have been
a tremendous inclusive moment.

Remember that Sydney 2000 chose Cathy Freeman, an aboriginal to light the
cauldron.  Atlanta 96 had Muhammad Ali.

VANOC opening ceremonies missed a chance to showcase the diversity of both
Vancouver and
Canada , and that we are just as
proud of ALL our Canadians too!

Maybe many people would have said “Who?” if Alwyn Morris had been
holding an eagle feather in one hand, and a torch in the other, if he had
walked into BC Place with the Olympic Flame – but it would have been both an
educational and a proud moment for all Canadians.  Morris is the first and
only Canadian aboriginal to win an Olympic gold medal.

It could have been a proper bookend to the inclusion of First Nations people –
in how we have overcome Canada's racist history of residential schools and
apartheid reservations, head tax and exclusion acts, internment camps and
property confiscation – not how we still portray First Nations peoples as
stereotypes in traditional costume, dancing and beating drums.



Olympic Torch carried on Dragon Boat and Voyageur Canoe on Final Day

Olympic Torch carried on Dragon Boat and Voyageur Canoe on Final Day

2010_Olympics_Feb12 100

Olympian Hugh Fisher carried the Olympic Torch on a dragon boat on part of the final leg of the Olympic Torch Relay that has traveled from sea to sea to sea and all across Canada.  He passed it on to Olympian kayaker Kamini Jain in the middle of False Creek, as she stood on a voyageur canoe.

2010_Olympics_Feb12 114

I was part of the 6 dragon boat and 6 outrigger canoe accompanying flotilla, that followed the torch bearing boats.  We all stood for a photo op with torch bearers Hugh and Kamini, after it was over.

Pictures and more stories coming later 

2010_Olympics_Feb12 192 Todd stands with Kamini Jain, Olympic torch bearer for 2010, Olympic kayak racer in Athens 2004 and Sydney 2000.

2010_Olympics_Feb12 191

Alwyn Morris won gold and bronze partnered with Hugh Fisher in the Mens K-2 events in LA 1984.  Alwyn is the first and only gold medalist Aboriginal Canadian, and he held up an eagle feather when he ascended the podium in 1984.

2010_Olympics_Feb12 176

Geo, Lisa and Todd hold the Olympic flame with torch bearer and gold medalist Olympian Hugh Fisher (LA 1984).

Gung Haggis dragon boat team paddle on Sunday Feb 7th

Gung Haggis dragon boat team paddles False Creek and takes in pre-Olympic sight-seeing.

We have a dragon boat team of keeners…. who wanted to paddle in February.  It was our first paddling practice since early November, when we had a few practices after paddling in the Ft. Langley Cranberry Festival Canoe Regatta.  Fifteen people jumped into the dragon boat for 11am practice on Sunday Feb 7th,

And… I think… I really needed to paddle to get myself warmed up for paddling in the dragon boat flotilla that will accompany the Olympic Torch Relay on Feb 12th, for when Gold medalist Olympian Hugh Fisher will pass off the Olympic Torch from a dragon boat to Olympian Kamini Jain in a voyageur canoe.

I only paddled for half the practice. if
that… I also coached some of the paddlers a bit for some 1-on-1 coaching  for only half the
time.   I steered for the remaining half, after switching with Stephen Wong, who started off steering for the team.

The team met at the parking lot for False
Creek Yacht Club for 11am, then had a quick warm-up, then headed to the
boat for 11:15am, headed over to Alder Bay to pick up Debbie, then back to
FC Yacht Club to pick up a paddler named Tony who arrived late after his morning meeting.  Next we paddled towards and past the Burrard St. Bridge to show
paddlers where the lights are for the from the
nightly spectacular light show.

I pointed out where the boat launch for the Burrard Marina is, where dragon boat paddlers for the flotilla that will accompany the Olympic Torch Relay will organize.

Next we paddled Eastward to Granville Island to identify the Ferry dock at West Side of Granville Island,
where the torch will be handed to torchbearer Olympian Hugh Fisher.  We looked over at the bright yellow building, formerly known as Bridges Restaurant, that is now being transformed into the Swiss Pavillion.  At the North end of the Granville St. Bridge is a floating hotel lodge that has been towed down from Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) that is normally lodged at Langara Island.

We took a little stretch, then switched sides.  I took a turn at steering, and let veteran paddlers Stephen Wong take his turn for paddling.  Just East of Granville Island is the Spruce Harbour Marina, where nearby, is the area where Hugh will pass the torch to Kamini
Jain in the middle of False Creek.    Hugh will be in the dragon boat, and pass the torch to Kamini in the voyageur canoe.  There are great viewing areas from both the North and South sides of False Creek, so it is perfect for cameras and television crews to set up for a unique photo opportunity.

We spotted the big black
pontoon floats that are being used for security to block off the boat
traffic in the East Bay, that are positioned along Cambie St. Bridge.  We paddled along beside it and waved to the officers in the Police Boat, guarding the perimeter, that includes the Olympic Village.

Next we paddled near the Yaletown ferry dock, where
Kamini will hand the torch to a runner, after she climbs out of the voyageur canoe.   The torch will then proceed up the streets towards Georgia Street, where it will arrive at the First Nations Aboriginal Pavillion where there will be a blessing ceremony.  This will be one of the final stops of the Olympic Torch before it travels to the Opening Ceremonies about 2 blocks down the street to BC Place Stadium, later in the evening.

It was a good paddle, and our paddlers were happy and pleased that I would be a part of the dragon boat flotilla accompanying the Olympic Torch Relay.  But most of all, the paddlers were all happy to be paddling again, and in friendly company.  Many times I heard somebody say, “I'm just here for the social aspects” as we paddled back to FC Yacht
Club…. by about 12:30pm.

The next plan was to have lunch.  I promised that I would treat everybody to dim sum lunch, if they came paddling.

We were at Floata Restaurant for dim sum,
at 1pm, at least my car was.  Other people got re-routed by traffic
diversions.  By the time they arrived, there were lots of dim sum selections on the table.  Haw-gow shrimp dumplings, Siu-mai pork dumplings, Lo-bak-goh pan-fried turnip cake.  We also tried a special appetizer plate that included jelly fish,  crispy pork skin and bbq pork.  There was also shanghai style dumpling with shrimp meat and green vegetable, steamed pork bun, sliced-almond covered shrimp balls, fish cakes, and more!  I also ordered house special chow mein with crispy noodles, and Geurng-chow-ngor-hah flat rice noodles with sliced beef.

This was Katie's first time having dim sum in Vancouver.  She's originally from Ontario, and only been in Vancouver almost a year…. and somehow never found her way to dim sum yet.

Georgia pronounced that the meal was “heaven”

GREAT LUNCH!!!  and we finished off with Chinese egg tarts for dessert.

Olympic Torch to be carried by dragon boat in its final journey to Opening Ceremonies

Dragon boat to carry the Olympic Torch!

The last day of the Olympic Torch Relay Feb 12th will feature Dragon Boats and Canoes as Olympic gold medalist Hugh Fisher, from a dragonboat, will hand off the torch to Kamini Jain, in a voyageur canoe, in the middle of False Creek.   This event will take place on February 12th in Vancouver BC.  Details and exact times will be released soon.

Fisher won Olympic Gold and Bronze with Kayak partner Alwyn Morris at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.  Kamini Jain competed in K-1 single kayak events in 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games.  Fisher is one of the founders of the False Creek Racing Canoe Club which has helped to shape dragon boat racing in Canada and also influence it's development in North America. 

Kamini is the current head coach of the FCRCC, and took the Mixed team to gold and silver in Sydney Australia for the 2007 IDBF World Championships.  FCRCC-cored Premier Mixed: 2nd at 500m (by 0.51 secs!), 4th at 200, 1st at 2K

It's going to be exciting as 6 dragon boats (20 paddlers) and 6 outrigger canoes (6 paddlers) make up the escort flotilla, that will accompany the torch bearing boats.  It will bring back memories of the torch first arriving in Canada after landing at the airfield, and then arriving to BC's Provincial Legislature Building in Victoria, carried by First Nations cedar canoes.

And I will be one of the paddlers in the flotilla!  Yippee! 

2009_June 060 by you.

Here's the Gung Haggis Fat Choy
dragon boat team at the 2009 Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.  One
of these BuK boats will probably be used to transport the Olympic Torch
in the final legs of the relay to the Opening Ceremonies at BC Place

The six dragon boats and outrigger canoes will be paddled by False Creek Racing Canoe Club, and some other clubs.  I think I will be on a boat where paddlers from different teams have been invited to participate.  I am very excited at being invited. 

Back in the summer, I did a video audition to be a torch bearer for the City of Vancouver, as two library workers would be included amongst the selected workers from police, firemen, city workers and parks workers.  Sadly, I wasn't chosen – but I know our library workers are deserving and wonderful people, especially my friend Judy Caldwell, who is a librarian, and dragon boater.  Judy is one of the founders of the Abreast in a Boat dragon boat team of breast cancer survivors, and we were both awarded the 2008 BC Community Achievement Award.

I've been involved with dragon boats in Vancouver for many years.  I attended the first dragon boat races on False Creek in 1986 during Expo 86.  I joined my first team in 1993.  Soon I was coaching other teams, and competed in Victoria races in 1997 and San Francisco in 1999.  I was invited to join the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival Race Committee in 2000.  In 2003 I helped to found the Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race, as board member of the CCC Dragon Boat Association.  The Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team has been active since 2002, and dedicated to promoting multiculturalism through dragon boat paddling.  We have put Taiwanese dragon boats into the St. Patrick's Day parade in 2004 and 2005.  The team has been filmed for tv documentaries for French, German and Canadian television, and also for an upcoming documentary movie.

This is one of my favorite pictures of the Gung Haggis team, at the 2007 Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat race!  Imagine holdin the Olympic Torch from the head of the dragon – but these Taiwanese boats won't be used for the Olympic Torch Relay.

Here is information about viewing the Olympic Torch on False Creek from the False Creek Racing Canoe Club Website:

After covering 45,000 Km across Canada, the Olympic flame will be crossing the waters of False Creek on its final
journey to BC Place for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter
Olympics …

… the next-to-last leg of the Torch Relay, on February 12th, will be from Granville Island to Yaletown!

That a final-day leg is on the water – really, it's a bit odd when you think in terms of Winter in Canada
– is a recognition of the importance which paddle sports have in many
parts of Canada, especially in & around Vancouver and the Lower
Mainland … even in Winter!

That the
leg is on False Creek is recognition of how many people see the Creek
as the central hub of their training & racing & simple
recreational-paddling activites – not just FCRRC, but all the other
clubs & groups & individuals using it too.

And too, of
how much the Creek has changed since it was primarily a very
unfriendly-to-recreation beehive of industrial activities, before Expo 86 –
when the first Dragon Boat events took place there.

Key details (there might be more to come a bit later in the week – stay tuned):

  • on February 12th, departing from the FC Ferry dock at
    the West end of Granville Island, the Torch will be carried in a Dragon
    Boat and a Voyageur Canoe to the Yaletown dock at the Quayside Marina.  Full details & map here, and in the Vancouver2010 Interactive map (go to Day 106 & select Vancouver)
  • Kamini Jain, FCRCC's Head Coach, and Hugh Fisher, one of FCRCC's founders, both of whom have competed in paddling events at the Summer Olympics for Canada, have been honoured by being chosen as Torch Bearers for the False Creek leg

So let's all get out to watch the Torch's voyage, and cheer Kamini & Hugh.

  • Suggested viewing points are Granville Island, the Granville Street
    Bridge, the Seawall either side of David Lam Park and the Cambie Street
  • Eager to absorb all the Olympic spirit of the final day?  Come down
    to Granville Island earlier, and follow the torch as it makes its way
    through the streets before crossing the water (see the map for full
    details of the two days – 105 & 106 – that the Torch is in
    the city)

Two cautions:

  • Boat traffic (including canoes, kayaks, etc.) will be extremely restricted
    during this time!

… taking out your own boat (or one of the Club's OCs or Marathons or K/C-1s) to view the Torch Relay will
likely result in being turned away and missing the view you can get
from on-land viewpoints

  • Make sure you allow yourself lots of time to get there, and don't plan on parking on or anywhere near GI either (see News item for more on those topics)

For more information on the Torch Relay and other Olympic events visit—alternative-modes-of-transportation-in-vancouver_236610kB.html

Did Muk Muk, the Olympic sidekick marmot, see his shadow today on Ground Hog Day?

Ground Hog Day in balmy British Columbia. 
Did Muk Muk see his shadow?

We don't have ground hogs, we have the Vancouver Island Marmot, and are currently over-run with Muk Muks!
January20103 by you.

Muk Muk see his shadow this morning? Ground hogs don't live in
Vancouver or Whistler, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics – but marmots
do. It rained this morning. I doubt that Muk Muk saw his shadow… Too
bad – Vancouver doesn't get 6 more weeks of winter that Eastern North
American will get, as predictedy by Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania, Wiarton Willie in Ontario and Shubenacadie Sam in Nova Scotia.

We saw a television news story that snow is being trucked to the Cypress Bowl Olympics site for Free style skiing and Snowboarding.  It's coming all the way from Manning Park!  Way past Hope and the Fraser River!  I guess there isn't even any snow at Hemlock Valley!

News results for snow, manning park, olympics
Trucks start moving snow to Cypress Mountain from Manning Park‎ – 9 hours ago

The great Olympic snow job is under way. VANOC to bring in snow by helicopter from elsewhere in the Cypress area and truck in snow from Manning Park.

Olympic mascots go to Scotland with Toddish McWong

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Quatchi, Miga and Sumi go to Scotland with Toddish McWong and Quatchi brings back a kilt

2009 was Homecoming Year for Scotland.  It was an invitation to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the birth of poet Robert Burns on January 25th, and went all through the year until November 30th St. Andrew's Day.

The year started with Visit Scotland CEO Philip Riddell bringing a special bottle of 37 year old Famous Grouse whisky to auction off at the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.  By November, there was a photo exhibit at Scottish Parliament titled This Is Who We Are: Scots in Canada.  It featured many Canadians of Scottish ancestry including Todd Wong aka Toddish McWong, who is not Scottish, but hosts the largest Burns Supper in Vancouver.

Exhibit creator Harry McGrath invited Todd to come attend the Homecoming Scotland finale weekend events and attend the Closing Reception for the exhibition.

Todd decided in the last days to attend the event, and quickly invited his friends Quatchi, Miga and Sumi to visit Scotland with him.

They arrived in Scotland, late on Saturday night, November 29th  in Glasgow.  They traveled to Edinburgh and visited many Robert Burns displays in the museums – but had lots of fun at the Scottish Parliament reception on St. Andrew's Day.  After the reception finished, they retired to a pub called Jenny Ha's – but Todd had to return to do a radio interview back to Vancouver BC on CBC Radio.

These pictures are their adventures exploring Scotland from Nov 29th to Dec 5th., 2009.

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Sumi Quatchi and Miga are excited to travel on the airplane

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We are excited to see a Harry Potter train on the Welcome to Scotland sign

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Todd and Sumi pose for a picture with the Visit Scotland display at the Scottish Parliment.

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There is a life-size picture of “Toddish McWong” featured in the Culture section of the exhibit “This is Who We Are: Scots in Canada” at Scottish Parliament.  Sumi attends the closing night reception with Todd.

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Harry McGrath (the tall dapper feller) is the creator of the This Is Who We Are exhibit.  Todd and Sumi pose with Harry's brother, niece and sister-in-law.  Harry started off the project simply by taking photos of same-named places in both Scotland and Canada.  You can find the project at

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George Anderson is almost the only other fellow wearing a kilt (besidess Harry McGrath's brother-in-law and a junior piper).  Todd had originally insisted on wearing a kilt every day in Scotland.  But he quickly found out that many Scots don't have kilts, or only wear them for special occasions.  After a few days in the Scotland cold Todd started sneezing and went back to wearing his jeans for the trip to Ayreshire.

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Sumi makes a new friend at Jenny Ha's pub, where we all head off to following the reception.

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Todd makes friends with a border collie and a black lab, beneath Arthur's Seat in Hollyrood Park.

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Todd visits the Telfer Wall – the old wall that used to surround Edinburgh city.

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Sumi finds a seat in the Telfer Wall, Edinburgh Castle is in the distant background.

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Sumi visits the pubs at The Grass Market.  Apparently this is where all the hen and stag parties happen, but we didn't see any animals.

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Finally!!!  A monument to an animal!  Sumi pays homage to the monument to Greyfriar's Bobby – the little Skye Terrier doggie that held a 14 year virgil, guarding his master's grave site, at the Greyfriar's kirkyard (church yard).

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Sumi visits the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.  He really liked this ancient picture of a boar.

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Todd went to The Vaults – Scotch Whisky Tasting Society, and drank Sumi, Quatchi and Miga under the table.  They refuse to allow any of the pictures from that night to be published.

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Sumi doesn't have as much as a hangover as the others, but still feels a bit green.  He does agree to take a picture beside his two favorite single malt scotches from the tastings. 

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Off to the Edinburgh Castle.  Sumi, Miga and Quatchi enjoy the view from the cafeteria.  It's a very cold day so Miga decides to stay indoors, especially since she is still suffering a hang-over from the night before.

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Sumi poses on a ancient cannon at Edinburgh Castle.

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Not to be outdone, Quatchi enjoys the view from a cannon at Edinburgh Castle too!

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After the castle visit, we go to the Scotch Whisky Experience and meet poet Robert Burns.  Quatchi and Sumi enjoy the poems of Burns, especially A Man's A Man For A' That, and To A Mouse.  Miga is feeling much better and can actually stand the sight of whisky again.  She excitedly seats herself on Robbie's shoulder.

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It's been a good day visiting Old Edinburgh.  Miga, Quatchi and Sumi enjoy the music and company at #1 High Street, at The Tass.

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Todd always seems to find accordions somewhere.  A whole bunch of local musicans meet at The Tass every Wednesday Night.  Todd and this fellow talked and talked about accordions and Robert Burns.

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Jennifer works at The Cafe Royal, the oldest and best Victoria pub in Edinburgh.  She is originally from Victoria BC, and was very happy to meet some fellow BCers.

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Sumi, Quatchi and Miga met some new friends including a Highland Cow, and a local named Teddy McBear.  They tried to help fit Quatchi with a kilt.  This was a great little shop at the Christmas fair at The Princes St. Park beside Waverly Train Station.

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Sarah is a student at University of Edinburgh.  She is originally from Singapore/Malaysia and spoke English the best of any other Asians that we met.  Probably because she grew up speaking English along with Malaysian and Chinese.

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We met Vicky at her father's hotel and restaurant in Ayr.  It's called the Glen Park Hotel with bar and restaurant.  Vicky actually lived in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighborhood for a year.

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We also went to the Two Dugs pub in Ayre.  Catherine was our bar server and she helped give us answers for that night's weekly Trivia Contest run by a fellow naed Pat.  Quatchi is emailing to Catherine.

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The Big Day!  We finally go visit Burns Cottage.  This is the birthplace of Robbie Burns just 250 years ago on January 25th 1759.  It is Burns' birth that is the inspiration for Homecoming Year Scotland.  The Alloway Post Office is in the background, across the street.

2009_Scotland6 082 click here for video
We were very lucky to have a short tour of the brand new renovated displays inside Burns Cottage with
Burns Heritage Park’s Manager Caroline Glenn.  The new displays at Burns Cottage opened to the public on Nov. 30th, St. Andrew's Day with a presentation by First Minister Alex Salmond (whom we saw at the This Is Who We Are reception).

Caroline Green says on the Burns Heritage Park website:
“The Living History school visits allow school children to get a real
sense of Robert Burns’ life and to hear expert commentary on his work.
It’s a pleasure to be able to continue to educate the public and Robert
Burns even 250 years after he was born and the new Robert Burns
Birthplace Museum will ensure that this tradition continues for many,
many years to come.”

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Inside the Burns Cottage gift shop, we made friends with “Rabbie Bearns” and his partner “Jean Armour”

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Sumi, Quatchi and Miga go to the Burns Monument Park and visit the Brig O'Doon – made famous in the Burns poem Tam O'Shanter.  It is on this bridge that Tam O'Shanter excapes the ghosts who can't catch him but only the tail of his grey mare.

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We discover a Chinese restaurant around the corner from the Burns statue in Ayr.  Todd immediately starts planning to create a future Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner for some time in the future.  The waiting staff is Caucasian – but the owner is Chinese from Northern China near Shanghai.  She tells Todd that for some reason, the Scots people don't seem to like eating seafood.  And they complain if you include the heads and tails of chicken, duck and fish on the plates.

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We hang out, while Todd speaks with the owner.  We can't stay for dinner because Todd forgot his passport in Edinburgh at the Cafe Royale, and we have to leave.

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On our last day of Scotland we have a traditional breakfast with marmalade. Todd remembers reading all about marmalade from books about Paddington the Bear.

Who will light the Olympic Flame at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games

Who will light the Olympic Flame at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games

Chinese gymnast Li Ning lights the Olympic Flame at the Beijing 2008 games.

John Furlong, chief executive officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee said, “As it nears its final destination, we want
everyone to share the pride and surprise of the moment and as the
identity of the final torch bearer is revealed.” 

The host country makes a statement about itself, its accomplishments and its ideals by the choice of the person who lights the Olympic flame.

the 1928 Summer
Games in Amsterdam, former star athletes have usually been the final
torchbearers. Norway chose Crown Prince Haakon of Norway for the Lilliehamer games, as both his father and grandfather took part in the Olympics.

Canada's choice at Montreal 1976 and Calgary 1988 featured teenagers and a tweener.   In Montreal Summer Games, Sandra Henderson, 15, of Toronto, and Stephane Prefontaine,
16, of Montreal, were to symbolize Canadian unity. In Calgary Winter Games Robyn
Perry, 12, a junior figure skater, was chosen to represent youth and
future Olympians.

The Star in Toronto has named some suggestions:–who-should-light-the-olympic-flame

The Star listed many British Columbians as the potential last torch bearer:

Nancy Greene of Rossland, B.C., who won ski gold and silver at the 1968
Games in Grenoble

Kerrin Lee-Gartner of Trail, won gold downhill skiing in Albertville in 1992, 

Karen Magnussen (North Vancouver), won silver in women's figure skating 1972

Rick Hansen of Williams Lake, B.C. (now Greater Vancouver), a Paralympic gold medallist
and tireless champion of those with spinal cord injuries, known world wide for his 1986/87 Man in Motion Tour.

Joe Sakic, of Burnaby who starred on
the 2002 gold medal-winning hockey team, 

Non athletes include Betty Fox, mother of the late Terry Fox of Port
Coquitlam, B.C., who has been the subject of online petitions and facebook groups.

Doug Alward,
the best friend of Terry Fox, who accompanied him from the start of the Marathon in Newfound Land and every step until the end of the aborted run.

Other Canadians include:

Gretzky, an ex-Olympian and architect of that 2002 squad, might be
considered candidates, as could superdad Walter Gretzky.

Cindy Klassen,
Canada's most-decorated Olympian with six medals for speed skating

Gaetan Boucher, who won four
Games' medals for speed skating

Clara Hughes, who won medals at the Winter and Summer Games. Cycling Bronze at Atlanta 96 + Speed skating Bronze at Salt Lake City 2002 + 5 medals including Gold at Turin 2006

Bailey gold in the men's
100-metre and 4 by 100-metre relay at the 1996 games in Atlanta.

Barbara Ann
Scott, 1948 Olympic figure skating champion

Kurt Browning Four-time men's world champion figure skater Kurt Browning who never won an Olympic medal.

Rick Hansen on the Great Wall of China in 1986

I value the wonderful community work that both Terry Fox's mother Betty and brother Darrell have done for continuing to carry the flag for the Terry Fox Run, encouraging runs all across communities in Canada and more than 60 runs in 28 countries around the world.  I speak at Terry Fox Runs and elementary schools
every year, since 1993, when Darrell Fox asked me to become a Terry's
Team member.  In 1993, I was a featured speaker at the Terry Fox Run press conference with Rick Hansen.  Rick has always talked about his friendship with Terry, and how Terry's Marathon of Hope inspired his Man in Motion tour.

While I believe that Betty Fox, Darrell Fox and Doug Alward would be great people to carry
the torch during the relay, I don't think they qualify as athletic
achievers – which is the usual lighter of the torch around the world.
Think Muhammad Ali in 96,  and so….

My favorite is Rick Hansen.

Rick is an internationally known figure, famous for his two year long world Man in Motion Tour from March 1985, through  26-months,  40,000 km through 34 countries, four continents, until returning to Vancouver on May 22, 1987 at BC Place Stadium – the very same site that will be used for the Vancouver 2010 Opening and Closing ceremonies.  What separates Rick from the other former Olympic athletes and medal winners, is his humanitarian values, as the founder of The Rick Hansen Foundation, and as a long time activist for people with disabilities and people with spinal cord injuries.  He has recieved the Order of BC, Companion to the Order of Canada, many honours such as Athlete of the Year, and many many honourary doctorate degrees, and has been inducted to both the BC Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

And remember the media reaction to Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan in his wheel chair receiving the Olympic Flag at the Closing ceremonies in Turin 2006?  Incredible!

It will send a message to the world of value and inclusivity about people with disabilities.  This is a Canadian value that we appreciate.