Celebrating Asian Heritage

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 12:43 p.m. May 11, 2017

Students and officers celebrated Asian Heritage Month at Brebeuf College on May 10.

Two men in TPS uniform with women in cultural dress
Inspector David Rydzik, Mali Phiphit, Maleeza Khampaseuth, Kum Kok Hyang and Staff Superintendent Peter Yuen with performers

“Toronto is the most diverse city in the world and our Service is committed to continuing to focus on building strong, trusting and meaningful relationships for all partners across this great city of ours,” said Staff Superintendent Peter Yuen. “I am proud that these relationships have been built and we will continue to build on them, not only for Asian communities, but all communities.”

The Toronto Police Service Asian Pacific Consultative Committee, co-chaired by Superintendent Randy Carter and Rey Tolentino, and the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) co-hosted the event.

City Councillor Chin Lee, the Vice-Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, praised the partnership at the 13th annual event.

“This is an opportunity for us to come together to celebrate the diverse cultures and achievements of Asian-Canadians, who play such a vital role in the unique and powerful multicultural mosaic of Canada,” he said. “This month, we celebrate the tremendous power of partnerships. Our Board believes in the notion that much can be achieved when we work in partnership and pull together. As a city of many neighbourhoods and cultures, we find that we are strengthened when we work collaboratively to serve the people of this city. Our focus on building strong and trusting partnerships very much includes Toronto’s Asian communities.”

A group of women in traditional dress play string tabletop instrument
Members of the Korean group, Yesori, play the gayageum

Celebrating 150 years of Asian culture in Canada, the event featured Chinese Fan Dance, Asian Folk Rhapsody and Yo-Yo performances.

In December 2001, the Senate adopted a motion proposed by then-Senator Vivienne Poy to officially designate May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. The following year, the government of Canada signed an official declaration to designate May as Asian Heritage Month.

Poy, Dr. Kay Li, the president of the Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario), citizenship court Judge Nancy Siu, TCDSB senior administrator Kirk Mark and TCDSB Chair Angela Kennedy were responsible for the launch of Asian Month celebrations in the Catholic School Board system.

“This is a time to honour and celebrate the achievements of people of Asian heritage and acknowledge their contributions,” said Kennedy, whose seven sons graduated from Brebeuf. “These kinds of days provide us with an opportunity to learn about the experiences of Asian-Canadians and the vital role they play throughout our shared history. Toronto is home to a large cross-section of Canadians of Asian heritage and our schools mirror this diversity. We are also enriched to be living here together, every day, because we hear all kinds of different languages every single day. We also have many opportunities to learn about everyone else’s culture.”

TCDSB director Angela Gauthier said the celebration is important because it builds the fabric of Canadian society.

“It reminds us of our identities and how they grow and change,” she said. “There is pride in everything we do and that is what we have to celebrate today. This is a day about acknowledging who we are as Canadians, moving a little bit away from our Western–centric perspective and acknowledging the Eastern side of our family because, when the two merge, we are that much more beautiful.”

Two men in TPS uniform with a group of people
Superintendent Randy Carter and Constable Ryan Park with Asia-Pacific Consultative Committee members Young Lee Ha, Bok Shin, Mali Phiphet, Tom Vuong Phakdey and Rey Tolentino
TPS crest watermark