Premier Christy Clark was recognized by Vancouver’s Lions Clubs with the Medal of Merit Award because of the province’s initiatives to formally apologize to early Chinese Canadians who were discriminated against through government policies. An Endowment Fund was established to protect Chinatown’s heritage buildings and to assist in revitalizing the neighborhood.
The Vancouver Evergreen Lions Club and Vancouver Campus Lions Club hosted the Medal of Merit award presentation ceremony and dinner. Also present was philanthropist and former UBC Chancellor Robert H. Lee, who was one of the sponsors of the evening. The ceremony was held last night at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown; Chinese community leaders had a chance to congregate in elegant attire.
Additionally, Dr. Wally Chung introduced the medal’s origins, and pointed out that although Premier Christy Clark’s apology to those Chinese Canadians who were treated unfairly can be seen as merely symbolic, it is also immensely meaningful. It is the foundation upon which harmony and forgiveness will be built. Chinese people can be proud of their ancestors and no longer look to the past with sadness and regret.
After receiving the award, Premier Clark stated that early Chinese Canadians might find all the accomplishments and public recognition of today’s Chinese Canadians in British Columbia hard to believe. And China will soon become our province’s greatest trade partner. This Lions Club medal is the highest award bestowed upon a non-member.
She also noted that today’s voices opposing immigration are similar to those many years ago who were against immigrants from China, stripping away their rights and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to speak out against these people. Premier Clark believes that Canada is only such a strong country because of its ability to welcome immigrants from all parts of the world.
Apart from the award presentation of Premier Clark yesterday evening, the event was also a fundraiser for the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to recognize and revive the significant historical background of Chinatown, at the same time promoting culturally sensitive economic development, so as to preserve our cultural heritage. A portion of proceeds also benefit the various charitable causes of the Lions Clubs.
After introducing the Foundation to event attendees, Carol Lee, Chair of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, announced the establishment of the Chinatown Revitalization Endowment Fund, which received generous support from philanthropists such as Robert H. Lee. She believed that it would be near impossible to protect Chinatown without an initiative such as this.
According to the City’s estimates, $36 million is required to repair Chinatown’s society buildings alone.