Sophia Woo, Ken Denike ask court to erase Brandon Yan’s Chinese name from Vancouver ballot

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      What’s in a name?

      A lot it seems, especially in an election when that name has the ability to appeal to voters of a specific ethnicity.

      A notice of civil claim has been filed before the B.C. Supreme Court regarding the addition of a Chinese name to the legal name of Brandon Yan, a candidate for Vancouver city council.

      Yan is the only candidate who was able to have another name included in the ballot for the October 20 election. The name is written in Chinese characters and pronounced as Yan Nim Bun.

      The notice of civil claim was filed on Tuesday (September 18) by Sophia Woo and Ken Denike, who are candidates for school board.

      In the court filing, Woo and Denike asked for the removal of Yan’s additional Chinese name that was written in Chinese characters.

      According to Woo and Denike, it was unfair that other candidates were not given the same privilege of having extra characters added to their legal names.

      Alternatively, if Yan’s Chinese name is not removed, Woo and Denike asked that other candidates should be given the same opportunity.

      Brandon Yan, who doesn't speak Chinese, says his Chinese name as represented by Chinese characters means 'Yan Remember Where You Come From'.

      Rosemary Hagiwara, who is the city’s chief election officer, earlier indicated that other candidates had inquired if they could include characters to their names.

      According to Hagiwara, these candidates were advised that the Vancouver Charter allows them to do so if the additional name is the “usual name that they go by”.

      “It’s a name that they use other than their legal name,” Hagiwara told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview about what ‘usual name’ means. “They’re also known by that name.”

      Regarding Yan’s case, Hagiwara said that she asked him to confirm that he is known by his Chinese name.

      “That is what he said. He has confirmed that to me,” Hagiwara said.

      In a separate interview, Yan has told the Straight that no one calls him by his Chinese name outside of the Chinese side of his family.

      Yan also said that he does not use Chinese name, but that he asked for its inclusion in the ballot to honour his Chinese father.

      The Vancouver-born Yan, who is of mixed Chinese and Caucasian heritage, had maintained that he did not do it because of political considerations.

      Woo is of Chinese origin. She came to Vancouver from Hong Kong in 1978 as a high school student.

      In an interview Wednesday (September 18), Denike told the Straight that Yan “got an advantage” with the inclusion of his Chinese name in the ballot.