The colourful costumes of two Chinese dance groups shone brightly against the steps of Prince Rupert’s city hall.
In Chinese custom, when a dance group visits the city of another dance group, they must meet, lion to lion. On May 2, the Hon Hsing Athletic Club of Vancouver performed with the Prince Rupert Lion Dancers to the beating of drums. As a large group gathered to watch the performance, Richard Wong stood next to Mayor Lee Brain.
Wong, who is the chair of the National Committee of the Canada Day Drumming Celebration, called the visit a homecoming. He grew up in Prince Rupert 50 years ago, graduating from the 1970 class of Prince Rupert Secondary School. Now, the dance performance coincided with another celebration: his grandfather’s restaurant, West End Chop Suey House, has been operating in Prince Rupert since 1918.
“This is a treasure,” he said in one of his speeches on May 2. “In British Columbia, not that many businesses can last for 100 years and Prince Rupert has one.”
The 35 businessmen and dancers are visiting cities in B.C. as they encourage people to join their attempt to break a Guinness World Record this Canada Day. On July 1, 2018, they will drum for six minutes, beginning at 11 a.m. — and they want the country to join in. The record attempt follows the Canada 150 Atlantic to Pacific Drumming Celebration from the year before.
Anyone can join, anywhere, as Wong said the drumming is “to promote our Canadian and world spirit of multicultural inclusiveness, diversity, harmony, peace, prosperity and love.”
At the next lions and dragon performance of the day, Wong made a surprise announcement. There was a third reason he was visiting.
“The citizens of Prince Rupert have been so nice to my grandfather, to my father, to me,” he said. “In return, as a token of appreciation, my wife and I would like to donate three scholarships for Grade 12. Each scholarship will be $500 for 10 years.”
The crowd gathered on the bleachers in the CHSS gymnasium erupted in applause at the news.
Mayor Lee Brain thanked Wong for his family’s multi-generational gifts — from food to scholarship funds — to Prince Rupert.