(November 18, 2018, Toronto) Over 400 guests attended the 2018 Chinese Canadian Legend Award Gala, organized by the Asian Business Network Association (ABNA). The event took place last night (Nov. 17) at the Sheraton Parkway hotel, where six recipients of the 2018 Chinese Canadian Legend Award were presented with the Award.
The Gala’s opening ceremony was led by Band of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship York, followed by a spectacular dance performance of beautiful young ballerinas from Georgia’s Dance & Arts Cultural Centre, set to the uplifting song “You and Me”. The Gala also had the honorable presence of Ruth Ann Onley, wife of former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario David Onley, as guest performer. Her moving melodies brought the Gala to an unforgettable Grand Finale featuring the patriotic anthem “We are the People of the Maple Leaf”. Lyrics of the heartwarming song were written by the Honorable David Onley himself.
VIPs attending the Gala included Honourable Dr. Vivienne Poy, MP Jean Yip, MP Majid Jowhari, Consul General of China in Toronto Han Tao, Consul Yanhua Li, Consul E DeFeng, Senator Victor Oh, City Councillors Alan Ho, Castro Liu, Isa Lee, HKETO Deputy Director Florence Tsang, and over 400 distinguished guests.
Mr. Bammy Wong, President of the ABNA, says, “For the past nineteen years, we have always hoped that through the ‘Chinese Canadian Legend Award’, we can recognize those Chinese Canadians who work hard to contribute to the community. We want to document their tremendous efforts, their challenges and successes for history, so that the stories of this generation can be passed on forever.” He also says that ABNA is honoured to have former Senator Honourable Dr. Vivienne Poy and former Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba the Honourable Philip S. Lee as the Honorary Patrons of the Award.
This year’s theme is “You & Me – Let’s make Legends together”. The 2018 recipients have all worked extremely hard and made tremendous contributions to the community, creating a legendary story in their lives. The six recipients of 2018 in alphabetical order are: Dr. Gabriel Chan, Dr. Angela Cheung, Mr. Irwin Li, Mrs. Susan Wong, Senator Yuen Pao Woo and Mrs. Winnie Yu.
There are many individuals worthy of recognition in the Chinese Canadian community, and each year, ABNA receives many nominations from the enthusiastic and supportive community. There are 24 people on this year’s selection panel, of which 18 are past recipients, and the remaining six are from Asian Business Network Association. After lengthy discussions and a comprehensive review, six deserving individuals were selected.
Candidates for the award are those Chinese Canadians who contribute to society and strive for self-improvement, regardless of their academic qualifications, age, occupation, wealth, status or other factors. The life stories of this year’s recipients are all different but equally brilliant. Among them are doctors, entrepreneur, philanthropist, Senator, and line dance teacher. Gala Co-chair Alexandra Ngan explained, “Their lives have not always been smooth after they immigrated to Canada. They encountered difficulties, but they persevered in the face of difficulties. Their generous and outstanding contribution to society is from the heart. It is a motivation and an inspiration to the community.” She also said that the recipients over the years are not only role models in the Chinese community, but also have impact on the mainstream society.
In addition, the “Chinese Canadian Legend Award” organizing committee hopes that through the annual award, the unique values and beliefs, the fighting spirit and ‘giving’ culture of Chinese Canadian immigrants will be passed onto the next generation growing up in the West. Mr. Dennis Au-Yeung, another Organizing Committee Co-chair, points out that, “The recipients have made outstanding contributions. They are all Canadians who are worthy of praise. They promote the spirit of charity and help others and will have an impact on the next generation.”
The “Chinese Canaadian Legend Award ” event has been held since 2000. Up to this year, a total of 118 individuals have been selected. Each recipient is unique. Each has their own wonderful story. Mr. Stanley Kwan, chartered accountant and head of the selection committee, says, “The selection criteria change with the times: Although we do the same thing every year, we will listen to the voices of the community and incorporate their ideas, so that we can be objective and fair and choose individuals that deserve to be our role models.”
From 2000 to 2017, there have been 112 inspirational legends and 18 books have been published. Mr. Stephen Siu, Chair of the Editorial Committee, thinks that the series of books are very important: “We write the stories of the six recipients every year, and the collections are kept in the major universities in Canada and Hong Kong. This is part of Chinese history. We have a good editorial and writing team, but the most important thing is to have a good story.” This year’s “Chinese Canadian Legend Award” stories were written by Shirley Chen and Annie Jin. The English versions were written by Connie Woo and Dan Woo. The stories are fascinating and highly readable.
The book collections are being kept in the Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong Library at the University of Toronto, as well as the libraries at University of Ottawa, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, and McGill University. The book series have become important reference material for any scholar studying recent developments of the Chinese community in Canada. In addition, beginning this year, the collections are being kept in the Hong Kong Central Library, the libraries of the University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong Polytechnic University,Chu Hai College of Higher Education and Canadian International School of Hong Kong.
2018 Chinese Canadian Legend Awardees Profile
Dr. Gabriel Chan
Dr. Gabriel Chan, who graduated from the University of Hong Kong, specialized in geriatrics after he immigrated to Canada. He later served as the Director of Geriatric Services at Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care and also as the Head of Geriatric Division at the North York General Hospital (1997-2015). During his tenure, Dr Chan implemented a large number of health care programs for elderly patients and was appointed by the Ontario Government as co-chair of Specialized Geriatric Services for Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). When SARS broke out in Toronto in 2003, Dr. Chan helped with the outbreak of the epidemic at North York General Hospital. Later he was recognized with the Dr. Morris Siu-Cheong Memorial Award for his exemplary patient care and humanitarian work, the highest award at North York General Hospital.
Dr. Angela Cheung
Dr. Angela Cheung, daughter of a pediatrician in Hong Kong, received residency training at the University of Toronto after graduating from the University of John Hopkins and later received a PhD in Medical Research from Harvard University. In the last 20 years, Dr. Cheung has published more than 200 papers and received numerous awards for her research work. Angela established the world-renowned University of Toronto Center for Excellence in Skeletal Health Assessment (CESHA). At the University Health Network, she founded the Osteoporosis Program and served as Project Director. She is also an adviser for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), assessing the skeletal health of their astronauts under weightlessness. Angela holds a Tier 1 Canadian Research Chair in Musculoskeletal and Postmenopausal Health.
Mr. Irwin Li
Born in Shanghai in the late 1990s, Mr. Irwin Li immigrated to Canada with his parents and received an MBA from the University of Calgary. Irwin was the Director of Finance for Lexus Canada. In 2006, Irwin left Lexus to co-found Mennie Canada Ltd., specializing in the production of fiberglass doors. Irwin is very enthusiastic about supporting charitable activities in the community. One year, he helped raise more than one million Canadian dollars for the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital Foundation. He also served as co-chair of Panda Gala, raising more than $300,000 for students in Sichuan, China. In 2017, he again served as co-chair of Luna Gala in Vaughan, raising funds for the McKinsey Health Foundation. In 2012, Irwin was awarded the Best Entrepreneur Award by the Association of Chinese Canadian Entrepreneurs. In October 2017, he received the Senate 150th Anniversary Medal.
Mrs. Susan Wong
94-year-old Susan Wong was devastated by her husband’s death in 1999, but two years later, she resolved to fulfill her husband’s philanthropic desire to contribute to the community. At the age of 77, after a tremendous amount of effort and hard work overcoming the barriers of not knowing English, Susan learned how to be a savvy investor and business woman. She has donated her earned income to the community. In the past 17 years, she has established a scholarship to remember her husband at the University of Toronto, and also donated to many charities in the community, including the United Way, Yee Hong Foundation, Mon Sheong Foundation, and Carefirst. She also donated a hundred thousand dollars to Mon Sheong’s Chinese School.
Senator Yuen Pao Woo
Senator Yuen Pao Woo was born in Malaysia to a Chinese family. He received primary and secondary education in Singapore. At the age of 16, he received a scholarship to study in Canada, continuing his studies at Cambridge University and the University of London. In 2012, Yuen Pau co-founded “China Global: The Vancouver Society for Promotion of Chinese Art and Culture” and started his tenure as president in 2014. That year, China Global helped Vancouver Art Gallery hold an exhibition – The Forbidden City: Inside the Courts of Chinese Emperors . He has served as president and CEO of Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, and President of Vancouver Headquarters Promotion Bureau (HQ Vancouver). In 2016, 53-year-old Yuen Pao was appointed by the Canadian Prime Minister as a Senator. After taking office, he was elected as the Facilitator of the Independent Senators Group. He is determined to spearhead the work on Senate reform.
Mrs. Winnie Yu
Mrs. Winnie Yu, called “charity line dance queen” by her students, was born in Hong Kong and ran a successful chandelier business there. After immigrating to Canada, Winnie began to learn to dance. With natural talents, she became a line dance teacher soon afterwards to raise funds for a charity. She choreographed many dances, and in 2004, won third place in the Chicago Line Dance Choreography Competition, becoming the first award-winning Chinese Canadian line dance choreographer from Ontario. Winnie used her line dance teaching skills to raise funds for different organizations in the community. In 2008, Winnie held a marathon dance party, attended by 900 people. She raised $18,000 in nine hours, setting a fund-raising record for the line dance community. Since 2001, she has been nominated by various agencies and awarded the annual volunteer award by the Ontario government six times. She estimates that the amount she raised for the community over the past 20 years to be more than $380,000.