Telling the Story: A Letter in Response to Call from Ontario Premier

Dear Hon. Ford,

Thank you for your hard work leading Ontario to fight against COVID-19.
Your recognition of the contributions of the Chinese community in this
battle is very encouraging.  In response to your call for details of
organizations and individuals who have worked hard in the battle, I am
writing you to tell the story of a volunteer group.

The Chinese Canadian Volunteers Fighting Coronavirus is a grass-roots group
that was set up on January 30, 2020, initially in order to promote
self-quarantine for travellers coming back from China, and recruit
volunteers to help with airport pick-ups and grocery deliveries for those
travellers who could not find families or friends to help them.  It grew
from a handful of members to around 70 people as of today, using WeChat, an
online instant messenger application that was popular in the Chinese
community as the major communication platform.  Group members answered
requests for assistance, asked questions, and shared information on this
platform.  Along the way, as the situation evolved, the group functions also
evolved: in addition to doing its initial tasks, the group collected helpful
information such as well-equipped taxi drivers’ contacts, and available
housing for self-quarantine to provide to people in need; front line doctor
and public health officer members gave updates on medical findings,
self-protection measures, and government policies; some members worked on
advocacy for awareness of the severe situation, and for policy changes in
order to contain the virus more efficiently; some members worked extremely
hard to collect PPEs for hospitals and long-term care facilities, including
soliciting donations, helping to find reliable suppliers in Asia, and
organizing sewing groups; some members led research projects or write
articles to document and study the pandemic; some members stood up to
confront racism against the Asian community; some members organized free
online educational programs or music events to help people make use of
self-isolation time and socialize; and the group cheered for its doctors,
nurses, and PSW members who had been working so hard in the front line to
save lives and protect us all.

The group is established on a voluntary basis, and there is no formal
registration requirement for members.  People have joined the group from all
walks of life and all corners of the province because they want to help
and/or share COVID-19 related information.  Many of them also have joined
other volunteer groups – there are many groups of such kind in the Chinese
communities across Ontario and other provinces.  As the coordinator of this
group, I do not know most of the members in person.  However, I have kept a
close eye on all the messages submitted to the WeChat platform, got involved
in some of the work mentioned above and witnessed the efforts and
contributions of the members.  I was deeply touched by all these volunteers
for their devotion and care for neighbours, strangers, their communities,
and Canada as a whole country.  Among them, and to my knowledge, I would
like to give a few names under each category of the functions we performed.
Some individuals have worked cross-functionally, and I listed them in the
most prominent category he or she stood out in.  Many more members did
similar tasks, and/or other contributions in their own communities yet I was
not aware of.  Nevertheless, through the stories of below representatives,
you would be able to have an idea of what our volunteer group have been
doing to fight against COVID-19 since the end of January.

Promotion of Self-quarantine and Recruitment of Volunteers

Mr. Shenshu Zhang is a licensed architect, and owns  an architectural
practice in Toronto.  In his spare time, he volunteers as the President of
Anhui Community Association of Canada.  Shenshu is one of the initiators of
the group.  As the first non-profit organization leader who joined the
group, he used his influence to promote self-quarantine and recruit more
volunteers in the Chinese community.  Later he managed to gather donations
from friends and the association members, and had over 15,000 pieces of
masks distributed to residents in the GTA for free, using his office as a
dispatch centre.

Mr. Xin is a truck driver.  He has been working throughout the lock-down
period, transporting fresh food and produce from the US to Canada.  He also
volunteers on the executive team of Tianjin China Alliance of Canada.  As
one of the initiators of this group, Xin recruited many volunteers for us,
and helped promote self-quarantine through the non-profit organization he
worked for.

Airport Pick-ups and Grocery Delivery Services

Mr. Darwin Qiu is a self-employed attic solution expert living in Milton.
He volunteers on the executive team of Anhui Community Association of Canada
, also being one of the initiators of the group.  He was almost always the
first one to answer calls for help.  He picked-up travellers from the
airport in February when it was hard to find a safely-equipped taxi to do
so.  He bought groceries and delivered them to people in self-quarantine for
dozens of times.  Later on he organized virtual teams for people to play
bridge and socialize.  Darwin appeared in the news report by CTV in
February, showing how he did the grocery delivery as a volunteer.  Here is
the link to his news:

https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/mobile/chinese-canadian-group-rallies-to-support
-residents-in-self-quarantine-1.4806095?from=groupmessage

<https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/mobile/chinese-canadian-group-rallies-to-support
-residents-in-self-quarantine-1.4806095?from=groupmessage&isappinstalled=
>
&isappinstalled=

Mr. Andy Liu is an electrician and sub-contractor in Mississauga.  In
February when it was hard to find a safely-equipped taxi for airport
pick-ups, Andy took the risk, and volunteered for three pick-ups, following
the safety procedures  of our group, i.e. keeping the social distancing,
wearing a mask, and using sanitizer afterwards.  He also helped with
delivery of PPEs several times.

Mr. Eric Liu is a Grade 12 student at Agincourt Collegiate Institute in
Scarborough.  He got his driver’s licence in December 2019, just in time to
be able to help out during the lock-down time with his car.  He volunteered
to deliver groceries to people with underline diseases as well as scrub caps
sewn by other volunteers to nurses, driving from Scarborough to North York
and Vaughan for a handful of times.

Medical Finding and Public Health Policy Updates

Mr. Stan Zheng is a family doctor practicing in Scarborough, with a PhD
degree and strong research background from China and the US.  He played an
important role in providing latest medical findings, tips and advice on how
to protect ourselves from infection, and how to do  self-quarantine to
protect our families and the community.  In addition to his front line
duties, His daily updates in February and March through another volunteer
group, the Good Neighbour Support Group, became an imperative part of
routines to many Chinese community members across Canada.  People desired
for his reliable information and professional analysis and advice.  He
raised the alarm of the shortage of  PPEs in Canada in early February when
the whole world was focusing on helping China with PPEs.  He advocated for
proper preventive measures way ahead of the time.  He was interviewed by the
National Post, and the live morning radio program, The Current, at CBC,
among other media.  From below news report you can see some of his
whistle-blowing efforts:

https://nationalpost.com/news/toronto-area-doctors-urge-all-travellers-from
-china-to-voluntarily-enter-two-week-quarantine

Mr. Richard Zhou is a public health officer in Peel Region.  He volunteers
on the executive team of Tianjin China Alliance of Canada.  He answered
questions on government health policies, and gave a couple of lectures
together with Dr. Stan Zheng on Zoom held by another volunteer group, the
Good Neighbour Support Group.

Donations of PPEs

Ms. Yuchun Zhang is a visiting mother from China.  Her son, Albert Yu,
studies at University of Toronto.  Yuchun started a sewing group in late
April in response to calls from nurses across the GTA for scrub caps as a
protective gear.  She gathered a group of professional or semi-professional
tailors, cloth and accessory providers and volunteers to make cloth scrub
caps for the nurses.  Albert helped with fundraising through UTSC Buddhist
Student Association.  They raised more than $1,700 to sponsor the tailors to
support local small businesses, while at the same time to make caps and gave
to nurses for free.  Up to end of May when they finished the order for the
last requests, they donated 509 scrub caps and 8 cloth masks to nurses.
Albert and his friend also donated 2,000 masks to the Chinese Students and
Scholars Association at University of Toronto Scarborough.  Here is an
article in Chinese summarizing their endeavors:

https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/1mpl9HsVn8JfUejoaruhjQ

Ms. Sherry Sun is an IT engineer at CIBC who lives in Markham.  She and her
husband, Bill Zhang, helped Chartwell Gibson Long Term Care Residence
receive a donation of 540 N95 masks and 110 protective gowns from their
friend, Larry Chen, who donated over $100,000 of PPEs to Ontario hospitals
and nursing homes through his company TLC Pharmaceutical Standards, Ltd.

Ms. Sophia Le works from home in North York for  a trading company in
China.  She travelled back from Shanghai on February 15 and conducted a
self-quarantine upon her arrival.  She seeked help from our group a few days
before her flight took off, and joined us later as a volunteer after the
self-quarantine.  She donated 150 pieces of protective gowns to Mon Sheong
Foundation, 50 pieces to March of Dimes Canada and 15 pieces to individual
hospital nurses.  Sophia was in a news report by CTV in March, telling why
she and her husband chose to do a self-quarantine even when they were not
required to do so at that time, and how they managed their life in the
isolation period.

Mr. Ruizhu Xu is the general manager of Btrust Supermarket,  headquartered
in Oakville.  He  volunteers on the executive team of Anhui Community
Association of Canada.  He solicited a donation of 2,000 pieces of surgical
masks from Anhui Provincial Hospital in April to support Ontarians.  He also
helped secure a $200,000 donation to Hospital for Sick Children from Btrust
Supermarket over a 10-year period.

Advocacy and Communications

Mr. Martin Ma is an insurance agent.  He is also the coordinator of another
volunteer group in North York.  He worked as a telephone dispatcher,
referring help-seekers to volunteers living in the same areas.  He also
actively advocated for the awareness of the severe situation and for more
effective measures and policies, appearing in several news conferences back
in February and March.

Ms. Yang Wang is a mother of two teenagers in Scarborough. She created and
runs a community-based cultural group, the East and West Learning Club.  She
is one of the initiators and the coordinator of our group.  She drafted the
appeal letter to the Chinese community and fellow Canadians at the end of
January, to promote self-quarantine, recruit volunteers, and advocate for
study/work from home and anti-racism moves.  She also wrote letters to the
MP and MPP in early March to advocate for online education for students,
more COVID-19 testings and self-isolation facilities for people in need.  In
April she had a dialogue with MP Derek Sloan and discussed about the racism
facing the Asian community.  She wrote articles about the Chinese
community’s efforts of combating the virus, and about racism issues, and
shared with friends of different heritages to exchange thoughts.  In May she
reached out to a food retailer to propose protocols to encourage a welcoming
environment in their stores for all customers, and discourage racist
behaviours in the wake of COVID-19.  She helped with the production of three
CTV news reports/interviews, including her own interview in the live Your
Morning show in February, telling Canada the volunteer work the Chinese
community was doing and the sacrifice of those travellers who chose to do
self-quarantine.  Recently she organizes free weekly Zoom lectures on
various cultural topics and cultural exchange.  Here are a couple of
articles she wrote in English:

http://www.eawlc.org/preventing-coronavirus-outbreak-canada

http://www.eawlc.org/on-racism-dialogues-derek-sloan

Online Education Programs and Music Events

Ms. Mia Chen is a third-year undergraduate student in Humanities program at
University of Toronto.  As one of the organizers of another volunteer group,
she spent a great deal of time after online university studies, passing on
requests for help, coordinating volunteers and donation projects, and
sharing valuable information among different groups.  She did not drive a
car, but responded quickly to people in need who lived in Downtown Toronto,
and helped deliver personal items for them.  She also volunteered for free
online meetings that helped high school graduates and new university
students learn about university life, study tips and job market.

Ms. Judy Fu is the marketing director of CCOA Therapeutics Inc. in Toronto.
She also serves on the executive team of two non-profit organizations, Anhui
Home of Canada, and Anhui International Chamber of Commerce of Canada.  She
helped with the donations of 10,000 pieces of surgical masks to St.
Michael’s Hospital, and hand sanitizers worth of $1,000 to local non-profit
organizations.  She helped organized and/or actively participated in several
online music events, including the One World Together with Love Online
Charity Show.  Here’s the link to a couple of the shows she participated in:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?isappinstalled=0
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?isappinstalled=0&v=X6nWIK0Ra1w&feature=share&
from=timeline&app=desktop
>
&v=X6nWIK0Ra1w&feature=share&from=timeline&app=desktop

https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/AMB1rYatZnjv9mhjch7qgA

Academics and Literature

Mr. Peter Wang is an epidemiologist, and a professor at Memorial University
of Newfoundland.  He volunteers as the President of Tianjin China Alliance
of Canada.  He used his influence in the Chinese community to promote
self-quarantine and recruit volunteers.  He is currently leading a research
team, sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Health Research, to study
effective social measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, and
psychological effects of the pandemic on the Chinese community.  Peter is
also the Director of Centre for New Immigrants Wellbeing (CNIW).  The
non-profit organization raised about $40,000 to buy PPEs for frontline
health care providers in April.  It held numerous online COVID-19 related
educational lectures for the public, and used its WeChat magazine as well as
their website to circulate scientific findings of COVID-19.  Peter was
interviewed by several media’s Chinese channels, including OMNI 2,
Fairchild, and CBC Radio International.  Here’s CNIW’s website in Chinese:

www.cniw.org <http://www.cniw.org>

Ms. Lucy Liu is a nurse at Bridgepoint Active Healthcare.  She is also a
poet and writer.  During the pandemic, she published several COVID-19
related articles in Chinese based on her professional observation and
experience.  Here’s the links:

How can Canadian hospitals control the spread of infectious diseases

http://newstar.superlife.ca/2020/02/07/加拿大医院如何控制传染性疾病的传播/

How to evaluate the reliability of network information

http://newstar.superlife.ca/2020/02/18/如何评价网络信息的真实性/

How to maintain “social distance”

http://newstar.superlife.ca/2020/03/17/如何保持“社交距离”/

Wear masks or not, this is a question

http://newstar.superlife.ca/2020/04/06/戴不戴口罩,这是一个问题/

Lessons from the past-experience from nursing homes

http://newstar.superlife.ca/2020/04/27/前车之鉴——来自养老院的经验/

The most beautiful April in the world-written to those who were moved by
the pandemic

http://newstar.superlife.ca/2020/05/03/最美人间四月天——写给那些疫情里的感动/

Unforgettable March, Toronto in the pandemic

http://newstar.superlife.ca/2020/04/13/难忘的三月,疫情中的多伦多/

Finally but probably most importantly, we cheer for our heroic frontline
doctor and nurse members who have worked throughout the pandemic to provide
health care to Ontarians:

Ms. Dezhen Han, PSW

Mr. Jing Zhang, Nurse at Grand River Hospital

Ms. Lucy Liu, Nurse at Bridgepoint Active Healthcare

Ms. Shirley Chang, Nursing Department at Memory & Company

Mr. Stan Zheng, Family Physician in Scarborough

Ms. Bailey, Nurse at Scarborough Health Network

They have not only combatted the virus in the front line, but also
volunteered in various areas after work, sharing first-hand information and
professional advice with the public to help them get prepared and ease
panic, and/or assisting with donations of PPEs from the Chinese community to
their facilities or colleagues.

Everyone of us, listed here or not, felt happy that we got to come together
and do something to help.  Most of us are first generation immigrants to
Canada.  It has been a privilege for us to be able to serve this peaceful,
welcoming and beloved new home.  On behalf of the group and as an Ontarian,
I thank you again for your leadership in the battle against COVID-19, and in
the recognition of Chinese Canadians’ efforts to contribute.

If you have any questions, or need the direct contact information of the
above mentioned individuals, please let me know.  Thank you!

Sincerely,

Yang Wang

 

 

 

Appendix

Premier Doug Ford’s message to the Chinese Community on the WeChat platform
posted on June 26, 2020:

https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/ShSKK_2XTqP4NHVjYl1xbQ

Hello friends,

I know many Chinese organizations, businesses stepped up and utilized their
resources and contacts to help our province fight against the pandemic. Many
of them have made substantial contributions and there are no words that can
accurately express my gratitude to all the selfless and dedicated members of
the Chinese community.

Therefore, I just want to do my part to recognize these outstanding members
of our community.

If you know of an organization or business that supported the community
during the outbreak (e.g. by donating masks or personal protective
equipment, providing meals to foodbanks or supporting our frontline workers
in anyway) please send a message or share this article to them, or you may
submit the name and contact (email, phone number, address) of their business
or organization so I may recognize their diligent hard work.

Please send direct message or leave a comment below if you have information
to submit.

In the meantime, if you are reading this article, I hope you will share it
so that everyone can see it. This is the true Ontario spirit!

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