(Saturday, July 29, 2023) Six outstanding Chinese Canadians were honoured at the 2023 Chinese Canadian Legend Award presentation gala today (July 29) at Richmond Hill’s Sheraton Parkway Hotel.
The annual event, organized by the Chinese Canadian Legend Awards Association (CCLA), carries the theme “Cherish and Share Our Blessings” this year. It was attended by a capacity crowd of 400 people, including the federal Minister of Crown-Indigenous, Gary Anandasangaree; Senator Yuen Pau Woo; Member of Parliament Carolyn Bennett; Deputy Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Toronto, Mr. Cheng Hongbo; Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti; the Director of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Toronto, Emily Mo; York Regional Councillor Alan Ho; and city councillors Ritch Lau and Isa Lee.
The 2023 Chinese Canadian Legend Award recipients are (in alphabetical order): Dr. Chester Ho, David Leung, James Lin, Jenny Pu, Daniel Quan-Watson and Sue Tang. The gala highlighted these role models’ accomplishments and contributions to the community over all these years.
The gala was opened by the Canadian national anthem played by the Band of His Majesty’s Canadian Ship York, and a martial arts performance by a group of award-winning students from the Li Martial Arts Centre.
CCLA president Bammy Wong thanked all the guests attending the 22nd anniversary of this highly regarded award presentation gala. “The Chinese Canadian Legend Award has made an impact in the community, but we will continue to improve and explore our future directions.”
“Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our team members and the support from the community, the award itself has become one of the most prestigious, influential and distinct awards in the Chinese community,” he said. “CCLA’s mission is to promote and recognize the achievements and contributions of Chinese Canadians, to foster understanding, respect and integration of multiculturalism in Canada.”
He also thanked former Senator Vivienne Poy and former Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, Philip S. Lee for taking up the role as CCLA’s honorary advisors.
Organizing Committee Co-chair Alexandra Ngan said the life stories of this year’s recipients are all unique but equally brilliant. “They not only rise above challenges in face of adversity, but also cherish and share their blessings with others. Their outstanding achievements and generous contributions to society serve as great motivation and inspiration to the community.”
Dennis Au-Yeung, the other Organizing Committee Co-chair, said, “The recipients are all Chinese Canadians who are worthy of praise. We hope that their values and beliefs, as well as their fighting spirit will be passed on to the generations to come.”
Selection Committee chair Stanley Kwan said, “The selection criteria change with the times. Although we do the same thing every year, we listen to the ideas and suggestions from the community, so that we can be objective and fair in picking the award recipients.” He said nominations had usually been enthusiastic. He added that there were 22 selection committee members this year, 18 of whom were past recipients, the other four being from CCLA.
Since 2000, CCLA has published a series of 130 Chinese Canadian Legend stories in 22 specially edited books. Stephen Siu, Chair of the Editorial Committee, stressed the importance of these publications. “These true stories of struggles, achievements and contributions are part of the Chinese Canadian history,” he said. “The CCL Award has made its mark in our community. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and we are facing new challenges. Publishing their inspiration stories for future reference is a noble mission.”
He also thanked the support of the editorial team members — Connie Woo, Camilla Tong, Annie Jin, Lucy Yang and Louisa Yue.
The entire collection of the CCL books is being kept in the Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong Library at the University of Toronto, as well as libraries at University of Ottawa, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, McGill University, and universities in Hong Kong.
The gala concluded with the song “Time to Say Goodbye” sung by Lena Ma, Miss World Canada 2009.
2023 Chinese Canadian Legend Award Recipients
Dr. Chester H. Ho
Chester Ho was born in Hong Kong. After graduating from medical school at Cambridge University, he completed his residency and spinal cord injury specialty training in the United States. He then joined Cleveland Clinic where he later became the Chief of Spinal Cord Injury. To be closer to his parents he came to Canada in 2011 and became the Division Head of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Calgary, and later at the University of Alberta. He also led policy development with federal and provincial health services. As a leading expert in the field of spinal cord injury rehabilitation, he has a patient-centred approach to care, maintains a humble, compassionate outlook and leads his team to continuously create miracles for spinal cord injury patients in Canada.
James Lin was born into an artistic family in Taiwan. After immigrating to Canada in the early eighties, he became the first Chinese journalist in Canada to report from location. His diligence, work ethic, and skills in writing and photography have earned him the respect of mainstream media and a moniker of “Living Dictionary” in the Chinese community. He is also public-spirited, contributing generously to the community. As a senior member of the Chinese media community, he has mentored over 200 journalists, promotes continuous improvement in the quality of Chinese language journalism and fosters a culture of friendly competition among his colleagues. As traditional media evolves, James is optimistic and open-minded. While he continues to excel in his work, he encourages people around him to be optimistic and to help others.
David Leung immigrated to Canada nearly 50 years ago. Music and photography are his two passions, and “integrating charity work with his passions” drives his community service. He joined the Ontario Chinese Music Association in the 1980s and organized concerts as a volunteer to promote Chinese music and nurture musical talents in the younger generation. He joined Fu Hui Education Foundation in 2005 and was an early leader in visiting the impoverished mountainous regions in China to help AIDS orphans get an education. As Fu Hui’s “official” photographer, he chronicled Fu Hui’s education aid journey with his camera – all the trips into the deepest mountains, visiting families in their remote homes, and supporting the Fu Hui students.
In 2006, 41-year-old Jenny Pu was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer. She actively faced the challenges presented by the disease, coordinating treatments to heal body and soul. After obtaining her licenses in prosthetic breasts and compression clothing, she began providing post-surgery support services to breast cancer patients in 2012, serving clients from all ethnic groups. In 2013, she started a breast cancer support group, self-financed printing of promotional brochures, shared her own experience, and provided encouragement to fellow breast cancer patients. In its ten years, the group has not used any community funding, instead raising money for the Cancer Society. The support group renamed itself “Phoenix” to signify rebirth out of fire. Jenny rises above adversity, using positivity to light others’ hope, kindness to reduce others’ suffering.
Daniel Quan-Watson is the first Chinese Canadian to become a deputy minister. His grandfather arrived in Canada in 1923 just before the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. Because he was raised by Caucasian adoptive parents, he both enjoyed white privilege and endured overt and subtle racism. But he is proud to be Chinese. He interacts with Indigenous peoples with understanding and respect, helping with reconciliation between Indigenous Peoples and the Canadian government. In 2020, Daniel wrote an open letter to address systemic racism, sparking debates to change the status-quo. It was a commendable effort.
Having grown up in a poor family, Sue came to Canada to pursue university education and through diligence and interpersonal skills, has forged a successful career culminating in her becoming the first Chinese vice president at IBM Canada. At the height of her career, Sue suffered a setback when she lost her husband. But charity work helped her find new meaning in life, and brought dance into her life. She has planned and led many fundraising events for various charitable organizations, and has used dance to help seniors suffering from Parkinson’s and other chronic diseases. She also actively shares her experience to encourage young people to pursue self improvement.