AMAPCEO Celebrates Asian & South Asian Heritage Month
Publish date: Friday, May 01, 2020 update
During the month of May, Ontarians come together to reflect and celebrate the achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian and South Asian descent from over 30 countries. In 2002, the Government of Canada signed a declaration that designated the month of May as Asian Heritage month nationally to acknowledge the long and rich history of Asian Canadians.
Join the Asian, Arab, & Latinx Caucus
Read our profiles of prominent Asian and South Asian Ontarians:
Jean Bessie Lumb
(Photo Credit: Cavouk - Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage)
Jean Bessie Lumb, born Toy Jin Wong in 1919 in Nanaimo, BC, came to Toronto in 1935. A key figure in the fight to change Canada’s racist immigration laws, Lumb was the first Chinese-Canadian woman and first restauranteur to receive the Order of Canada for her community work. Her community activism led to appointments to Women's College Hospital, the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and Ontario Chinese Restaurant Association.
Lumb is remembered and recognized for her critical role in changing Canada’s immigration laws that had separated Chinese families and for her work that led to saving Chinatowns in Toronto and other cities from demolition in the 1960s.
Lumb, along with her husband, opened a fruit store in the Junction in 1936 and then opened Kwong Chow Chop Suey House in Toronto’s Chinatown in 1959. The restaurant was popular with Canadians of all backgrounds and was a spot where politicians, journalists, celebrities, business people, and community leaders contributed to transforming and shaping opinions about Chinese-Canadians.
Founded in 1998, the Jean Lumb Foundation provides scholarships to high school students of Chinese heritage.
Honourable Gurbax Singh Malhi
(Photo courtesy the House of Commons)
Gurbax Singh Malhi was born in India and immigrated to Canada in 1975. Malhi was elected in 1993 as a Member of Parliament (MP) to represent Bramalea-Gore-Malton. He became the first Sikh who wears a turban to be elected to the House of Commons.
During his time in Parliament, Malhi became known as a politician who fought for inclusion of all minorities that came to Canada and was reflective of the diverse ethnic backgrounds that co-exist in Canada. As Canada’s first Sikh MP, he raised awareness and understanding of the customs and traditions of the Sikh faith and of South Asian communities.
Malhi was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 for his commitment and contributions to Canadian society.
(Photo courtesy House of Commons)
Born in Brampton, Ontario to parents who had migrated from Punjab, India, Jagmeet Singh grew up in Scarborough, Ontario and St. John’s, Newfoundland before settling in Windsor, Ontario.
Singh began his career as a criminal defence attorney. In 2011, Singh was elected the first Ontario NDP Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) to represent the Peel Region and became the first MPP to wear a turban at Queen’s Park. On October 1, 2017, Singh was elected leader of the federal NDP—the first racialized person to lead a major federal political party in Canada—and later won his seat in Burnaby South.
Singh studied law and began his career as a criminal defence attorney before joining politics to support communities fighting poverty, keep tuition affordable, and advocate for equal access to justice for marginalized communities.
Robert (Bob) Wong
(Photo courtesy CPA Ontario)
Robert (Bob) Wong is a former Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, having served the downtown Toronto riding of Fort York from 1987 to 1990. He served in Premier David Peterson’s provincial government, first as Minister of Energy and then as Minister of Citizenship, where he was responsible for race relations, multiculturalism, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Wong was the first Canadian cabinet minister of Chinese descent.After politics, Wong joined Leon Frazer & Associates Investment Counsel, .
More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in 12 cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario; Health Quality Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; Public Health Ontario; the Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; and in the former Offices of the Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner (now part of the Ontario Ombudsman).