Robert H. Lee Alumni Centre, UBC Vancouver campus
Thank you, Sheldon for the kind introduction. Sheldon and Emelda, we are delighted that you have joined us all the way from Hong Kong for tonight’s event. Your enduring commitment to UBC is truly appreciated—and speaks to the global reach of our UBC community. Thank you for all that you do.
And thanks to all of you for your presence here this evening! Happy New Year everyone!
As Sheldon mentioned, we are fortunate to have a number of officials from all levels of government with us today. In particular, I welcome the Minister of Advanced Education, Melanie Mark – the Minister responsible for BC’s post-secondary system.
I want to thank you all for being here to celebrate with the UBC family.
Simply put, support from our provincial and federal governments is essential to our success and our partnership together is having a profound impact on the lives of British Columbians and Canadians.
I likely don’t have to remind anyone in this room that the Lunar New Year has always been a celebration of home-and-hearth — a time for family reunions and celebratory feasting. Traditionally, every ceremony and every ritual dish is layered with symbols and superstitions associated with good luck, prosperity, abundance and renewal.
So how appropriate and auspicious it is that so many of our extended UBC family have gathered tonight to welcome the Year of the Rat!
We are, as the old saying goes, living in very interesting times. It seems that every day we turn on the news and confront a turbulent world that requires us to muster every bit of our collective intellect, empathy, patience, and understanding.
In such a landscape, it is essential that we renew our commitment to working together, and to finding bold solutions to our planet’s most complex problems.
And thanks to the passion and commitment of our students, faculty, staff and especially you—our generous donors—that is exactly what we are accomplishing here at UBC.
In a moment, I’d like to give you a few examples of the extraordinary work that is being nurtured by your giving spirit. But first, I want to recognize and thank UBC’s Asian community in particular for your continued support to our research and community outreach activities these many years. You have collectively helped to elevate UBC’s reputation on the world stage.
And what a reputation! The most established and influential global rankings—Time Higher Education, QS, and ARWU—consistently place UBC in the top five per cent of all universities in the world. That’s exclusive company!
The Times Higher Education holds UBC to be most international university in North America. We are 34th among the world’s top research institutions … second in Canada … and third in the world for making a global impact in areas related to prosperity, inequality, sustainability and justice.
Now, you may well ask: how does all that excellence translate in practical terms? Well, I could keep you hear all evening with examples from all across our 12 faculties, but far be it from me to hold up a delicious dinner! Instead, let me tell you briefly about three significant projects, all fueled by visionary donors—some of whom are with us here tonight!
Let’s start with the Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection in Rare Books and Special Collections at UBC Library. Wallace, thank you.
This is one of the most extensive collections of its kind in North America—a treasure trove of more than 25,000 rare documents and artifacts all related to early BC history – particularly around the CP Railway, which would not have been possible without Chinese labour – and immigration and settlement.
Wallace was just six years old when a poster of the Empress of Asia –the CP ship that brought his mom to Canada in 1919 – fired his imagination and inspired more than 60 years of collecting.
In 2014, driven by a desire to “help people understand and appreciate the struggles and joys of those who came before them,” the Chungs donated a significant portion of the collection to UBC.
This important gift tells the Chinese Canadian story of resilience, persistence and success against great odds … and in 2019, the Chung collection was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register for Canada.
Now, in 2020, we are looking forward to relocating and expanding the collection and display within the Ike Barber Learning Centre so that even more people will be able to access this rich historical resource. Thank you, Wallace and Madeline!
That’s just one of the ways donors are helping us honour our strategic commitment to building stronger connections with diverse Asian Canadian communities. Another is the Quan Lee Excellence Fund for Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies.
We created the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies program—or ACAM—in 2012 to commemorate the 76 Japanese Canadian UBC students who were forcibly removed from the university and their homes at the start of the Second World War. I would like to acknowledge founders Mary and Tosh Kitagawa, who are here this evening.
Today, through community-based student-led projects, the program engages diverse Asian Canadian communities to help safeguard historical narratives and build a more inclusive and respectful future.
To that end, the Quan Lee Excellence Fund last year made it possible for students Angela Ho and Tyler Mark to produce short films in collaboration with the Chinatown Concern Group—a grassroots advocacy group consisting of mainly ethnic Chinese residents of Vancouver’s Chinatown and Downtown Eastside.
Through this particular partnership, the students learned film and archival skills in the classroom and then applied them in the community to foster a more robust understanding of the pressing issues facing Chinatown’s most vulnerable residents.
It’s just one example of how ACAM is helping to grow the civic leaders of tomorrow.
Another way we are strengthening community ties is through initiatives such as the UBC Geriatric Dentistry Program at the Villa Cathay Seniors Home in Chinatown … one of 28 community-based sites run by the Faculty of Dentistry.
With support from donors, UBC Dentistry recently launched an on-site dental clinic to protect the oral health of the 150 frail elderly residents in an environment that feels safe and familiar. So far, our UBC dental students have provided over $56,000 of free, specialized dental care as part of this community-service learning model.
We are a rapidly aging population and I don’t know about you, but it gives me great comfort to know that UBC is training the next generation of dental professionals in the highest standards of geriatric care!
Thank you to Dr. Ken Chow and Mrs. Susan Chow and Mrs. Jane Young and Mr. Ricky Li from the Petersen Foundation who see the value and necessity of combining educational excellence and social responsibility!
Now: speaking of the next generation … and especially on a night when we are welcoming abundance and renewal … I can’t sit down without giving you a short update on our Blue and Gold Campaign for Students — the largest fundraising campaign for students in UBC’s history.
We launched the campaign in 2017 with the goal of reaching $100 million within three years. And thanks to the generosity of our extended UBC family, we beat our target! So now we’ve set a new one: we are aiming to double our goal to $200 million by 2022!
I’m going to leave you now with a short video that will introduce you to some of the amazing students benefitting from the Blue and Gold Campaign. If you haven’t already contributed, I hope they will inspire you!
Thank you all for everything you do for UBC, and Gung Hay Fat Choy!