Tuesday, June 18, 2024

‘It’s our legacy’: Fundraising dinner being held for Canada’s oldest Chinese Temple in Victoria

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There’s a big dinner banquet coming this fall and you’re invited! 

In celebration of the Autumn Moon Festival, the Victoria Chinatown Lioness Lions Club is throwing a banquet to fundraise for the Tam Kung Temple, the oldest Chinese Temple in Canada.

The dinner will be held at Don Mee Seafood Restaurant and a total of eight courses will be served along with moon cakes.

Additional raffle tickets available for purchase, and auction items! Costs of raffle tickets are yet to be announced, so stay tuned!

In an interview with Nora Butz, the president of the Yen Wo Society, she expressed her excitement for the fundraiser and the food that will be presented in partnership with Don Mee Seafood Restaurant.

“The Temple was founded by a group called the Hakka People [in 1876],” Butz said. 

“And although the Temple is open to everyone, they were the original founders, so we’ve asked the restaurant to put in some Hakka recipes.”

(Tam Kung Temple in 1877 / Courtesy of Nora Butz)

Butz expressed that the fundraiser couldn’t come at a better time.

Not only because it falls the weekend before the Moon Festival, but because the funds will go towards Temple’s upkeep.

Due to the building’s age, which has exceeded 100 years, it is in need of substantial repairs in order to ensure its continuation for future generations.

“It’s kind of fallen apart…the roof is leaking…badly…and the balcony is deteriorating,” Butz told Victoria Buzz.

The engineers have told Butz that the repairs will cost around $600,000 to complete.

“We’re doing what we can…but the renovations are out of scope for us [right now].”

The Temple location is 150 years old, having been founded by the Hakka People in 1876. However, the building had to be rebuilt after a fire burnt down the original Temple in 1911 — the new building opened in 1912.

Since its opening, they have prided themselves in being open to the public every day (minus the peak of COVID-19) and providing a haven for returning visitors as well as curious tourists as well. 

Butz has shared that it is their deepest hope to ensure it remains that way. 

They have achieved heritage status in the City of Victoria and are waiting to hear back from the Government of Canada regarding heritage status on a grander scale as it will provide further protection from closure. 

The city has also decided to refresh the outside of the Temple by adding a commissioned new and vibrant mural to represent Tam Kung, the Temple deity — which should be done before the dinner banquet takes place!

So come and have an unforgettable dinner for a good cause and take a look at the mural too.

“We want to fill the room,” Butz said.

(Location of mural / Courtesy of Nora Butz)

For those that are curious, the Autumn Moon Festival honours Hon Yi, a famous archer, and his wife, Chang’e. The legend tells of Hon Yi shooting down 9 suns that were burning too close to earth, thus saving everyone.

For his actions, he was rewarded with an elixir that would grant immortality upon consumption, but he chose not to drink it to remain on earth with his wife.

But in a thief’s attempt to steal it while Hon Yi was away, Chang’e drank it to ensure it stayed out of the wrong hands.

As a result, she floated to the moon where she remained with the white jade rabbit, who had sacrificed his life for the Emperor of Heaven. 

In heartbreak, Hon Yi set out moon cakes and fruits for his beloved Chang’e in hopes of her return. So now, to honour their love for each other, the 15th day of the 8th lunar month is the Autumn Moon Festival.

“It’s a family day like Christmas and people will want to be at home with their family, so [that’s why] we’re holding it a week prior to the actual moon festival,” Butz said.

Tickets will be $80 until Tuesday, August 1st and will be $88 after that and until they sell out. 

To reserve your spot, fill out this form and e-transfer your ticket money to CHINATOWNLIONESSPAYMENTS@GMAIL.COM.

“We want to keep it as a Temple, the Yen Wo Society was formed to keep it…and we intend to do so…our function is to make sure it survives.”

We hope to see you there!

Autumn Moon Festival Banquet

  • Where: Don Mee’s Seafood Restaurant, 538 Fisgard Street
  • When: Saturday, September 23rd at 6 p.m.

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