East&West Dialogue with City Councillor and Civil Liberty Advocate

In this Asian Heritage Month of May, the East&West Dialogue will have two distinguished guest speakers, from East and West Asia, respectively, come and share their life stories, cultural experience and  have a dialogue with our audience.

How have they come this far to today’s achievements?  As first-generation immigrants, what barriers and opportunities have they witnessed in Canada?  How do they maintain and evolve their traditions?  What observations and suggestions do they have for fellow immigrants to cope with everyday life here?

Time: Saturday May 29, 2021 at 7:30-9:00 P.M. (Eastern Time)

Language: English

Cost: Free

Zoom registration link:



Guest Speaker Introduction


City Councillor Cynthia Lai came from Hong Kong in 1972.   Since then, from a laboratary technician to a flight attendant, from a tour guide to a real estate manager, Cynthia has had extensive grass-roots experience living in Toronto.  Her good work ethics and extrodinary ability to initiate and get things done made her way to become the first Chinese-Canadian woman elected to the position of President of the Toronto Real Estate Board.  Her professional and diverse background also earned her an appointment to the City’s Committee of Adjustment (Scarborough Panel) for the 2010-2014 term.  In 2018, Cynthia was elected to serve as the Councillor for Ward 23 Scarborough North of the City of Toronto.  She is a long time community volunteer, and an avid fundraiser for Spirit of Life, Daisy of Hope, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, United Way of Greater Toronto, REALTORS Care Shelter Foundation, Centre for Immigrant and Community Services, Toronto General Hospital, Mon Sheong Foundation for Seniors, Yee Hong Community Wellness Foundation and Habitat for Humanity of Toronto.  Her community service and leadership was recognized by numerous awards, including the Duke of Edinburgh Silver medal, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, the “Chinese-Canadian Legend” Inspiration Award, the Catalyst Award, Emeritus and Community Service Award as well as the Outstanding Chinese Business Women Award.  She enjoys connecting, meeting, helping and advancing people.  She is living in Scarborough with her husband, and is a proud mom of two sons.  Cynthia is fluent in English, Cantonese, Mandarin and Hakka


Talayeh Shomali is the Manager of Education and Community Engagement at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association(CCLA), a not-for-profit, non-partisan and non governmental organizations that protects and promotes fundamental rights and freedoms for all people living in Canada. She is passionate about easing the access to justice for diverse groups and she feels lucky that her day to day job includes talking to people about their rights. In her previous jobs, she has coordinated several justice projects, including Family Law Information for Women (FLEW), which is an Ontario-wide, accessible and multilingual legal information campaign for diverse women identified populations across Ontario.

In her spare time, Talayeh volunteers for organizations such as Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) as a mentor and sits on the advisory board of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC). She considers herself a lifelong learner and enjoys meeting and talking to people and learning from them.  Talayeh holds a M.A in Women and Gender Studies from University of Toronto, a B.A in Law and Society/ English Literature from York University and a B.A in Civil Law from her country of origin, Iran, where she worked as a lawyer before immigrating to Canada. She is fluent in English, French and Farsi.


Thanks a lot to our guest speakers who generously volunteer their time to share  their amazing experience with us.  Professionals or home-makers, parents or students, everyone is welcome to join the dialogue, and get some inspirations from the two engaging guests!


For inquiries, please email to: info@eawlc.org.  Thanks!

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