6 York Region high school students of Chinese heritage win Jean Lumb awards

·3 min read

The Jean Lumb Foundation has announced its 2021 National Award winners. A virtual ceremony was held on Oct. 23.

As a Canadian, not-for-profit organization, the Jean Lumb Foundation’s purpose is to advance education by providing scholarships to high school students of Chinese heritage.

A total of 17 students were awarded this year in recognition of their extraordinary talents and skills. Six of the winners are from York Region.

Four students from Markham won awards in four different categories.

Melissa Lam, a Unionville High School student, received the Athletics Award, sponsored by Murphy & Chung Chartered Accountants.

Melissa has her third-degree black belt in taekwondo. She has competed at the national level and won a bronze medal at the 2015 Canadian National Taekwondo Championships. She has won six National Champion Titles, with 6 gold medals at the Canadian National Taekwondo Championships. In addition, Mellisa volunteers, coaches and tests for her school at local and provincial tournaments.

Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School student Albert Lai received the Innovation Award, sponsored by Choi King and the family of John C. Mah.

Albert has always been driven to create a positive impact through technology. Last spring, he noticed that his peers were feeling disconnected due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the student council technology chair, he designed a mobile app to keep students updated with school events and activities. The app has been downloaded by over 75 per cent of the school, reaching the top 15 in the App Store education charts.

Currently, he is working with the York Region District School Board to bring the app to all of the school board's 40,000 secondary school students.

Evelyn Carey, a Bur Oak Secondary School student, has received the Dignity of Life Award, sponsored by the Maximilian Family Fund.

Evelyn has been volunteering for her community since grade school and has served as a special events volunteer and assistant (adapted) aquatics instructor for Markham, where she has taught students of all ages and abilities, including those with physical and mental disabilities, how to swim.

Also from Markham, Unionville High School student Kathy Chen wins the Defence of the Environment Award, sponsored by Fay and John Wong.

Environmental advocacy has always played a significant role in Kathy’s life. That’s why she co-created Seedlings, an organization committed to fostering sustainability and reducing her community’s carbon footprint through gradual lifestyle changes. They established a free seed library exchange that helps community members grow their own food and encourage plant-based diets.

Two students from Thornhill and Richmond Hill — Mariane Olivian of St. Robert Catholic High School and Emily Pang of Richmond Hill High School — received the Community Services Award, sponsored by the Lu family.

In 2019, Mariane was elected as president of SJMF, a youth-led, registered charity that builds houses for families in the Dominican Republic. Besides that, she also serves as the vice president of the Connect4Cancer chapter, leading events such as a stem cell swab for the Canadian Cancer Foundation and an ornament-decorating event for childhood cancer patients.

Emily wanted to increase awareness among youth about opportunities for leadership, engagement and contributing to society. This desire led her to co-found ViteRevue, a student-led non-profit organization that provides opportunities for youth by creating a knowledge platform, running an interview series and hosting monthly webinars. The resource platform on their website has been accessed by over 700 students.

“The judging panel had the challenge of selecting the 17 winners out of so many outstanding applications,” said Arlene Chan, president of the Jean Lumb Foundation. “I am so impressed by these young people who have excelled in so many areas of interest.”

The Jean Lumb Awards celebrate the hopes and dreams of the early generations of Chinese Canadians whose hard work and sacrifice have paved the road for today’s generation. Jean Lumb was the first Chinese Canadian woman to receive the Order of Canada for her tireless community work as a voice and advocate for Chinese communities in Toronto and across Canada.

Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun

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