CCNC, London Chapter
Then and Now
By Allan Quan
In looking back, W5, the CTV’s public affairs program in which a scandalous documentary, the so called “Campus Giveaway”, which was embedded with racial overtone, and which was telecast twenty five years ago, was indeed a blessing in disguise, as far as the Chinese-Canadians are concerned. The acrimonious documentary saw supposedly “foreign” students, those of Chinese origin in particular, of the University of Toronto, maliciously accused of flooding Canadian university professional schools in numbers thereby displacing some Canadian students. CTV telecast the unjust documentary without in-depth research therefore without realizing the “foreign” students who were the subject of attack were in fact Canadian citizens or landed immigrants. Those unfairly accused students protested, and rallied for help from the local Chinese community of Toronto, who in turn rallied other Chinese community across Canada for a nation-wide protest. The result saw virtually all Canadians of Chinese origin being galvanized into a never-before unity. Delegates from across Canada converged in Toronto, organizing the biggest protest ever undertaken by the Canadian Chinese community. Consequently, this unity gave rise to the Chinese Canadian National Council, one of the strongest non-political, non-profit organizations in the True North Strong and Free.
The London Chapter of CCNC was officially established in 1981, but an ad hoc committee headed by a group of active community members, was already organized in 1980 to lend support to the central committee in Toronto during the W5 affair. A steering committee was formed afterward to initiate the establishment of this local chapter. And in October, 1981, the London Chapter came into existence. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The first-ever Executive Committee of this chapter being:
President: Mr. Allan Quan
Vice President: Dr. Sai-wah Cheng
Secretary: Prof. Phillip Tong/Dr. S. K. Wong
Treasurer: Prof. Raymond Chan
Chair of the Board: Prof. K. Y. Lo
Supported practically by all citizens of Chinese extraction, the London Chapter quickly became the umbrella organization of the City of London, assuming the leading role in social activities and functions. The membership grew rapidly and the organization soon became the flagship of public affairs that are Chinese-related and which take place in the City of London and the surrounding areas. Before long, the London Chapter involved itself in cultural, educational, and philosophical matters that are Chinese in nature while abiding to the tenets of CCNC. With strong support by members and with matching grants from the Federal Government, a building was purchased, becoming one of the first local chapters to own and operate its own centre.
Aside from dealing with social injustice and political discrimination, successful events, activities and functions were numerous and popular, supported both by the Chinese-Canadians and the mainstream society.
Political: Organizing many election forums at the London Chinese Cultural Centre, owned and operated by this chapter. Taking an active role in addressing the hurtful issue of prohibition of over-age children from immigrating to Canada to join their parents. This organization is proud to say that it had succeeded in pressuring and persuading the government to change the immigration policy in this regard.
Cultural: Holding Heritage festivals, heritage weeks, and annual Dragon Boat races for fundraising purposes for the underprivileged and annual senior luncheon and entertainment.
Educational: While a strong supporter of its sister-organization, the London Chinese School, this chapter itself holds Mandarin classes for both Chinese and non-Chinese students, and ESL classes for the new immigrants at the Centre.
Social: Organizing Annual New Year celebrations, fundraising galas, members’ nights, the August Moon festival, Chinese painting/calligraphy contests for Chinese School children, etc. plus many other functions held at the Centre.
All the above functions and activities and many more, sustain and perpetuate supports from the members as well as citizens of the City of London, making it one of the most popular non-profit organizations of Southwestern Ontario. Not only is the London Chapter of CCNC well-established, it flourishes and has endeared itself in the hearts of people touched by it or associate with it.
As a pioneer participated in the formation of CCNC nationally, and as founding president of the London Chapter, the writer would like to say the following: Members come and go and will eventually grow old, no matter what their talents and dedication. What remains to be seen is how firmly will the future generations grasp the torch passed down to them by their elders. Let us hope their wisdom will guide them to the multicultural Promised Land.
Finally, this writer would also like to say this to our children and to newcomers of CCNC by quoting the famous line from John McCrae’s poem, “In Flanders Field”:
To you from failing hands we throw the torch,
Be yours to hold it high