On Wednesday, May 29th, 2013, we welcomed nearly 300 members and guests to the FACL Gala 2013 and Awards at the Downtown Marriott Hotel in Toronto. The most successful of FACL’s annual gala evenings to date, the Board gives heartfelt thanks to Gala Chairs, Fidelia Hung and Qian Mou, as well as the many FACL members and friends who brought their time, energy and creativity to the event. A list of the Gala Committee and volunteers may be found here.
The Board also extends its gratitude to our many table sponsors and donors for their generous and enthusiastic support. Program and list of sponsors and donors may be found here.
Writer and broadcaster Niru Kumar elegantly opened the evening as MC and singer/songwriter Jeanette Lee captivated the audience with a solo performance of three of her original songs. In addition to their artistic talents, both Niru and Jeanette are also practicing lawyers. Jeanette also urged attendees to hum along on her final anthemic tune, and many did!
As FACL President, I had the honour of paying tribute to Justice Steve A. Coroza for his historic accomplishment. Justice Coroza, of the Ontario Court of Justice, was recently appointed to the Superior Court of Ontario, the highest position attained by a Filipino-Canadian in the Canadian judiciary. Having started as duty counsel in Legal Aid Ontario in Toronto, and then becoming a Prosecutor with the Public Prosecutions Office of Canada, Justice Coroza was first appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in 2009. In addition to being a distinguished member of FACL, Justice Coroza has been a valued mentor and instructor to many young lawyers over the course of his distinguished career.
Giller Prize-winning author and physician Vincent Lam provided the keynote address for the evening. Speaking with an aura of intimacy, he discussed the creative role of his childhood memories in the writing of his current novel The Headmaster’s Wager, a finalist for the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Awards and currently shortlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize. In recollecting his personal experience of growing up as a “hyphenated Canadian”, Vincent also reminded us to embrace ourselves as members of the Canadian diaspora, and not to drink the bitterness but rather the strength of the lessons learned. He emphasized that while the past teaches, the future is the test and encouraged all of us to work towards a better more peaceful future.
Jeffrey Lem was awarded the FACL Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to the legal profession and community service over the course of his over 25 years of legal practice. With his typical self-deprecating eloquence, Jeffrey noted during his acceptance speech that his daughters’ reaction to news of the award was to tell him that lifetime achievement awards are usually given to “old people”. Given his conviction that the privilege and ability to practice law comes with it an obligation of community service, he was pleased and honoured to receive the award from FACL. Jeffrey, a partner at Miller Thomson, also emphasized the critical importance of receiving and providing mentorship in fully developing as successful lawyers and professionals. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by Justice Russell Juriansz.
Daniel Mark was awarded the FACL Lawyer of Distinction Award for his outstanding contributions to the legal profession, community service and social justice over the course of his over 10 years of legal practice. A Legal Advisor within the office of the Ministry of the Attorney General, Daniel has consistently championed and implemented diversity initiatives and has worked tirelessly as a mentor and coach. The Lawyer of Distinction Award was presented by Justice Mavin Wong.
Chris Hope was awarded the FACL Young Lawyer of the Year Award for notable achievements by a young lawyer. In 2012, Chris’ self-funded and self-produced film Hatsumi: One Grandmother’s Journey Through the Japanese Canadian Internment was released across Canada by Alliance Films. A copyright and entertainment lawyer at Cassels, Brock & Blackwell, Chris also serves on the board of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, and has led discussions about the Japanese Canadian internment at university, community and festival screenings of Hatsumi. The Young Lawyer of the Year Award was presented by Justice Manjusha Pawagi.
Wendy Sun was presented with the Omatsu FACL Scholarship for her outstanding community service and academic achievements. Wendy, currently a student at Osgoode Hall Law School, displays a strong interest in social justice issues. She has indicated a desire to combine her legal education with her urban planning background to benefit the wider community. The Omatsu FACL Scholarship was presented by Justice Steve A. Coroza.
The FACL Board would like to express special thanks to Justice Steve A. Coroza, Justice Manjusha Pawagi and Justice Mavin Wong for their work reviewing the nominations for the 2013 FACL Awards and on the Omatsu FACL Scholarship panel.
FACL’s mandate is to promote equity, justice and opportunity, not only for Asian Canadian lawyers but also in the wider community through its annual Gala, its annual Conference, mentorship and networking activities, and advocacy and policy work. FACL also shines a light on the achievements of Asian Canadian lawyers, the judiciary and others. We look forward to a productive year of expanding our membership and outreach. Building on the momentum and success of the FACL Gala 2013 and Awards, FACL anticipates an even better FACL Gala 2014!