Posted by Tina Yarbrough
2017-11-13 Rotary Buzz - Evening  Meeting
Canada 150 Series
Speaker - John Short on Norman Kwong
 
 
Lou opened the meeting at 6:00 pm.
 
Announcements
  • Rotary Cares Raffle Tickets Available
  • Augustana is looking for host families for exchange students during the holidays.  Dorms are closed for about ten days over Christmas holidays.  Please call Augustana directly if interested.
 
Norman "Normie" Kwong
 
 
Norman Lim Kwong was the son of Chinese immigrants.  He is a first generation Canadian, and at an early age, he experienced racism. The story has been told many times when, as a child, he was often instructed not to swim with the "normal" kids.  Norman overcame this.  His work in welcoming new Canadians and fighting bias at all levels got its foundation at that point.  John is convinced it was a key element in Norman's appointment as Lieutenant Governor of Alberta.
 
Norman, Normie to his friends, at 18 years old left high school to go to the Canadian Football League.  He became the first professional Chinese Canadian player.  He played for the Calgary Stampeders and helped them win the '48 Grey Cup.  Three years later he was traded to the Edmonton Eskimos.  As an Eskimo, he won 3 more Grey Cups.  Overall, the football star set 30 league records during that time and has since been inducted into both the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.
 
John Short
 
John shares a story about Norman and Jackie Parker.  He and fellow Eskimo, Jackie Parker were more than teammates.  They were very good friends.  Jackie was a partier, drinker, and gambler.  Norman and Jackie would bet on anything.  At Parker's home, Parker made a bet where he lost his furniture.  On game day, Edmonton needed a late touchdown.  In the huddle, Norman told Parker, "Get us in the end zone, and ill give you your furniture back."
 
Kwong became part-owner and director of the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames until he sold his interest in 1994.  He helped them to their first Stanley Cup victory.  Kwong is one of two people that have their name engraved on both the Grey Cup and the Stanley Cup.  The other person is Wayne Gretzky, who briefly owned the Toronto Argonauts.
 
He was Normie when playing football; he was Norman when he became officially the; Honourable Mr Kwong.    He was the third "player" to reach this incredible and important level.  Those before him were Peter Lougheed and Don Getty.  Who says mere football team?!  These people were great contributors.  Norman was a fluent speaker, good-natured, honourable and a  funny man. 
 
 
He accepted Mr Lougheed's invitation to enter politics.  Norman ran for office in Calgary and lost.   But he continued to be active in the community, serving as national chairman of the Canadian Consultative Council on Multiculturalism and as honorary chairman of Calgary's Easter Seal Campaign.
 
Norman Kwong was appointed lieutenant-governor of Alberta in 2005 and served until 2010 becoming the first Chinese Canadian to hold the position in Alberta. He knew his job was largely ceremonial.  He also knew that aspect of ceremony got in the way.  Norman was asked to speak at Jackie Parker's funeral.  After weeks of negotiations, he called the Parker family and told them, "The only way I get to talk about Jackie the way I want to is if I show up as Normie Kwong.  Is that okay if I come that way?"  He did.  No Limousine, no security.  Just a man who valued his friend.
 
The "China Clipper" was honoured in so many ways. He was proud to be a member of the Order of Canada, but his major highlight was the award that came from Queen Elizabeth.
 
Queen Elizabeth, Norman and Mary Kwong
 
 
Correction:
 
Paul Harris Award Designations were incorrect.  I apologize.
  • Ray Hook - Paul Harris +7
  • Lou Henderson - Paul Harris +7
  • Roy Ferrin - Paul Harris +4
  • Ted Gillespie - Paul Harris +4
  • Dan MacPherson - Paul Harris +2
  • Paul Pederson - Paul Harris +1
  • Roy Wallace - Paul Harris +1
 
50/50 - $18 won.
 
Meeting adjourned at 7:15 pm.
 
Next meeting - Noon Meeting, November 27, 2017, 
Canada 150 Speaker Series
Speaker - Dr. Daniel Sims on Chief Poundmaker
Camrose Resort and Casino