TaiwanFest events to promote cultural exchanges in Canada

A series of cultural events being organized by a Taiwanese community based in Canada will take place there from August to promote exchanges between Taiwan and Canada, with the events this year also featuring the connection between Taiwan and Hong Kong, the organizers said Friday.

Established in 1990 by Vancouver's Taiwanese community, TaiwanFest is now one of the largest cultural events in Canada, spanning two back-to-back summer weekends in Toronto and Vancouver, the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association (ACSEA) said.

Like the events of previous years, this year's ones will promote Taiwanese culture in Canada, said ACSEA Managing Director Charlie Wu. But beginning this year, the events will be expanded to bring in other Asian cultures, he said at a news conference in Taipei.

The 2016 events will feature "A Cultural Tango with Hong Kong," Wu said.

Reflecting this year's theme, program highlights will include a symphony orchestra concert in memory of late Taiwanese diva Teresa Teng (鄧麗君) and late Hong Kong star Leslie Cheung (張國榮), and a speech by Taiwanese political and cultural commentator Chang Tieh-chih (張鐵志) in which he will share his observations on the younger generation in Taiwan and Hong Kong, Wu said.

Noting Canada's diverse cultures, Wu said that there will also be a pan-Asian culinary invitational that will invite chefs from Taiwan, Canada and Hong Kong to compete for the "Best Cut" title.

New additions to the festival include the opportunity to play mahjong on the street, as well as the chance to play Chinese chess, Wu said.

Another new activity combines installation art with a charitable cause, "Step 30," initiated by Taiwanese Yang Yu-jen (楊右任), who is married to a Canadian woman.

Through "Step 30," about 1 million shoes have been collected from Taiwan and shipped to Kenya and other African countries to help people there, who often fall victim to chigoe fleas, which penetrate the body through the soles of the feet, because they cannot afford to buy shoes, Yang said.

Also included in this year's program are the Grand Tea Reception, in which participants will be introduced to the best of Taiwanese high mountain tea, and performances by several Taiwanese bands, Wu said.

In addition, a photo exhibition titled "The Face Cultures" will be held to examine different face-saving cultures in the three different societies, he said.

This year's TaiwanFest will take place in Toronto Aug. 26-28, and in Vancouver Sept. 3-5, ACSEA said.

Canada's representative to Taiwan, Mario Ste-Marie, and Taiwanese officials in foreign and cultural affairs also attended Friday's news conference, and expressed hope that the events will further promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges between Taiwan and Canada.

(By Elaine Hou)