Walk with the Dragon unites community
July 19, 2015
By Chuck Chiang, Vancouver Sun |
The sunlight may have been glaring at times, but despite the heat, Yik Fung Au-Yeung was all smiles on Sunday.
Au-Yeung, a famed Vancouver accountant and volunteering activist, has attended SUCCESS’s Walk with the Dragon every year since the event’s inception. With the fundraising march celebrating its 30th anniversary with this year’s version at Stanley Park’s Lumbermen’s Arch Sunday, Au-Yeung said he would not have missed it for the world.
“It’s important to support this,” said Au-Yeung, who will turn 89 in September and participated this year with the aid of a walker. “Last year, I walked with two walking sticks. This year, I have my walker. Maybe in the next few years, I will be in a wheelchair. But my daughter said, if i want to, she will bring me. And I want to, even in a wheelchair.”
Walk with the Dragon, one of the largest non-profit fundraising events in the city, gathered 13,000 participants last year. And while official counts were unavailable Sunday, the crowds are noticeably bigger than last year’s version, which was hampered by rainy weather.
With Sunday’s sunny weather and highs reaching toward 29 degrees Celcius, the 7-kilometre walk through the park had no problems attracting various community groups and corporate sponsors to participate this year. Many participants were dressed in colourful team t-shirts and uniforms for the occasion, and dragon dancers kicked off the march at approximately 9:30 a.m.
The weather factor was not unnoticed by one federal official in attendance.
“I’m so happy to see a beautiful day,” said Federal National Defence and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, participant of at least five Walks with the Dragon prior to this year. “Last year, it was raining. (Today) the sun has come out… and we are here to have fun today, to enjoy the beauty of nature here in the jewel of the West Coast, to enjoy our fellowship of Canadians, and to do good, to help new Canadians realize their dreams, to achieve their potential here in their new home.”
Organizers say they plan to raise $400,000 for community workshops and services not supported by provincial or federal funding. SUCCESS, one of the largest Canadian non-profits targeting new-immigrant services, said the funding will go towards senior health, youth leadership and family counselling services for new Canadians, as well as the established community.
The event was heavily attended by federal and provincial politicians, including BC Premier Christy Clark, who kicked off the festivities with the ceremonial “dotting of the eyes of the dragon,” which in Chinese folklore gives life to the legendary animal.
Clark said Sunday’s multi-ethnic and multi-generation turnout symbolizes the contribution of immigration to Canadian society.
“We are better, we are richer, we are safer and more more diverse because of immigration,” she said. “For generations, the country was built by people who came from all over the world, who wanted a chance to build a better life… We should be proud of what we built in this country, we should be proud of our diversity, we should be proud of organizations like SUCCESS.”