The Caribbean Chinese Association was formed in 1977 in Toronto and in 1997 is celebrated its twenty year anniversary. This is a story of the Association’s twenty year journey. From a small group of people of Chinese background from the Caribbean, led by Hubert Lue and Louis Chong, it has grown into an active and vibrant organization with approximately 500 members today. Hubert and Louis first recognized the need of such an organization in late 1976 and quickly put together a steering committee to act as a catalyst in developing this Association. Following Hubert’s leadership, Robert Chin, Fulford Chin Choy, Dr. Junior Wong, Osmond Lee, Kay Moosie, Eric Chong, Albert Lue, Dr. Ken Fung, Pamela Hew, Joselyn Cheong, Henry Williams, Hector Hoo Fatt, Nicey Chin, Carlton Wong, Cecil Chin Yee, Michael Akai, and Ken Chong formed the first steering committee.
The mandate of the CCA would be to assist other Caribbean Chinese in the transition and integration into the Canadian society. It was the strong belief that there was an urgent need for an Association to serve the community, an Association that should be non-profit and non-political in its concept, but certainly with strong emphasis on social and community activities. A dinner in a downtown restaurant attended by over 900 people started the ball rolling. By April 1977, with recommendations from the steering committee, the Caribbean Chinese Association was established.
The early years, saw the development of the Association in its infancy. Hubert Lue was elected first ever President of the Association. He began the daunting task of organizing activities from scratch. With no funds to work with, Hubert quickly organized picnics, dances, sporting events and pageants, all of which still thrive today. With a large community at hand, the need to communicate with each other had to be addressed, thus the first Newsletter was published in September 1977. On September 10, 1979, the Association was registered as a full fledged Corporation in Canada; registration no. 414319.
The Eighties, brought many changes. The presidency was passed on first to Merryl Chin who served between1981 and 1982, then it was Horace Assing 1982 to 1984, Donald B. Chung 1984 to 1985, Vincent Chin 1985 to 1987, and Mary Lai 1987 to 1989. The efforts of the Association began to focus on supporting charitable organizations and more importantly, people with individual needs. By now the Association was becoming recognized as an important contributor to the cultural and social life of the greater Toronto area. The Association was often asked to participate in local and municipal panel discussions, including seminars on Career Planning and Placement, the Multicultural week in the City of Scarborough, and to represent our community on the Human Services of Scarborough and Multicultural and Race Relations Committees.
Along with increased sporting events, cultural activities such as Cantonese conversational classes, cooking classes, ceramics, painting demonstrations, acupuncture, the Shaw and Stratford Festivals, lake cruises and seniors and family nights were established. An annual student Bursary was also established for a first year University student who is the son/daughter of a member in good standing.
By 1990, Dr. John Chin was elected CCA’s seventh President. John provided inspired leadership for an unprecedented seven years. He brought renewed interest and vitality and his innovative approach was contagious. Recognizing the need to increase our charitable efforts, a charity arm was introduced to an already full portfolio.
One of the first donations was made to the Chinese Community nursing home from proceeds collected at the Cherry Blossom Ball. A Building Fund was also launched to raise funds for a building of our own, which was originally proposed in 1986. Dr. John Chin resigned in 1996 and handed the reins over to President George Hoo Sue.
Today, many of the original events are still very popular. The annual Pageant, the New Year’s Eve dance and picnics are always very well attended. Sports events attract many members and non-members each year. Badminton and volleyball have grown from two to twelve courts; softball has grown from one diamond to three; golf tournaments, tennis socials, bowling, are promoted annually. The CCA owns many trophies donated by members and well wishers for many sporting activities.
Despite its struggles, the CCA through its twenty-three year history has had remarkable stability of management and consistency in its philosophy. There have been only eight presidents in twenty years and perhaps because of the similarity in cultural background, and close friendly relationships, it was inevitable that the philosophies would not diverge greatly - "To encourage an environment which welcomes involvement, the Association must first be a good corporate citizen."In retrospect, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Association’s formation was the personalities involved. Many of those who joined the Association in its infancy or those who were associated with the steering committee were to continue to be involved with the CCA for many years. Apart from Hubert Lue, others who were to enjoy a long relationship with CCA includes Robert Chin and Horace Assing who contribute their time and effort to this day.