Superintendent Peter Yuen has been recognized for being a pioneer in his profession who recognizes his role as a role model to youth.
The highest-ranking Toronto Police officer of Chinese heritage is one of this year’s Chinese Canadian Legend Award (CCLA) winners.
He will be honoured at a gala ceremony, on November 8, at the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel. The Asian Business Network Association administers the CCLA, created 15 years ago to recognize Chinese Canadians who have made significant contributions in their respective fields.
Yuen was the fifth officer of Chinese descent to join the Service 26 years ago.
“When I became a Service member, I didn’t expect accolades like this,” he said, at a media reception on September 17 to announce this year’s winners. “I just wanted to do the best job I could for this organization and the community. This recognition is not only for me but also Toronto Police. This is quite an honour when you take into consideration that there are so many worthy candidates across Canada.”
The eldest of three children, Yuen and his family migrated from Hong Kong when he was 10 years old.
“My story is not different from the typical immigrant family journey,” he pointed out. “My parents worked hard and I, as the eldest child, had the responsibility of taking care of my younger siblings. Back then, I wanted to play hockey, soccer and baseball, but I couldn’t because of cultural differences and financial hardships. I was the outsider looking in and I was envious of other kids having a good time.”
Yuen dropped out of McMaster University’s chemical engineering program in his second year to become a police officer.
“I was not enjoying my time in university and I chose to do something else, which is policing,” he said. “The Service was looking for Asian officers at the time and I felt I could be that bridge and connection between the Chinese community and Toronto Police.”
Completing his undergraduate degree a few years later, Yuen graduated four years ago with a Masters in leadership.
“When I was at McMaster, education was not important to me,” he added. “But as you mature, you understand how critical education is. It gives you a broader perspective and provides a critical-thinking component.”
Starting at 55 Division, where he’s now the unit commander, Yuen has been assigned to several Divisions and departments during his distinguished career. They include organized crime, professional standards, community mobilization and homicide.
Peter is a hero and role model who motivates and shares his knowledge and experience with young people
He has also made a mark at 55 Division, where he has worked on four different occasions.
While in the Division as an Inspector, Yuen and the Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) started a scholarship program, 11 years ago, to recognize high school students in the Division.
Earlier this year, he was instrumental in establishing the 55 Division Detective Support Officer of the Month Awards.
“We want to share our good news stories with the community,” he said at the time. “I also feel that our recognition system needs to be enhanced somewhat to the point where our officers are honoured instantaneously for their outstanding work.”
York University adjunct professor Albert Ng nominated Yuen for the prestigious honour.
“Peter is a hero and role model who motivates and shares his knowledge and experience with young people,” said Ng. “He’s also a selfless person who volunteers for many communities and organizations and has a passion for his profession.”
The theme of this year’s celebration is, “Phoenix Reborn: The Legacy Goes On.”
“It’s time to reflect on the past and renew and rejuvenate for the future,” said this year’s awards co-chair, Alexandra Ngan. “Like the mythical phoenix rising from the ashes, Chinese-Canadian legends emerge from adversity with renewed strength and vision.”