Sunday, 3 August 2014

Toronto philanthropist and former Ryerson University Chancellor passes away, Raymond Chang, 65, a Jamaican-born Chinese-Canadian, passed away Sunday months after undergoing a bone-marrow transplant from his brother. He was known for his work on Bay St. as well as his generosity.

Ray Chang and his wife Donette Chin-Loy  in their Toronto home. Chang was a 2014 recipient of the Order of Canada.
Ray Chang and his wife Donette Chin-Loy in their Toronto home. Chang was a 2014 recipient of the Order of Canada.
He was a giant on Bay Street and a giant in the world of philanthropy, but he will likely be remembered most for his immense heart.
Raymond Chang, 65, a Jamaican-born Chinese Canadian, passed away Sunday, months after undergoing a bone marrow transplant from his brother. His death was confirmed by Sheldon Levy, president of Ryerson University, on Sunday evening.
Chang’s oversight as the former CEO of CI Financial was highly respected in the business world, but his philanthropy was what stood out most.
He is survived by his wife, Donette Chin-Loy, and two children.
On Monday, the University of West Indies, where Chang was a major donor, announced they were flying flags at half-mast at their Caribbean campuses.
Chang’s sudden turn for the worse was something of a surprise. It had been about nine months since he had a bone marrow transplant for his leukemia from his brother, and the prognosis seemed good.
His family was by his side at the end when he passed away at 11 a.m. on Sunday. Daughter Bridgette called for a priest before he died.
“It is the loss of my life. We had the most perfect love. He was the kindest person. The most incredible, smartest person I have ever met,” said a distraught Chin-Loy Chang.
“He was always so respectful toward everyone. I waited a long time to find the perfect man. it was the best years of my life. I’m not sure how to go on without him.”
For Chin-Loy Chang it was a particularly tough day because her husband died on the anniversary of her father’s death.
The 2014 recipient of the Order of Canada, who had received the Order of Jamaica three years earlier, was affectionately known as the “student” chancellor at Ryerson University until his tenure ended in 2012. He was also the namesake behind the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at the university.
“In some sense, he was bigger than life itself because of his generosity, his good spirits and his humour,” said Levy.
“The loss is not only huge to the university, but to the entire country. You could never say enough about what he accomplished and his humility and love of life,” Levy said, adding that students were always on Chang’s mind.
Levy said Chang made it a priority to visit classrooms while he was chancellor and on his first official visit he decided to drop by a dance class, rather than a business finance class, as one might expect.
Chang’s presence was felt not only at Ryerson University, but across Toronto. He was a board member on the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation and established a chair at the University of Toronto in internal medicine. He also started a fellowship for West Indian doctors at the University Health Network.
“Ray will be sorely missed as he was an extraordinary and kind person. He always said that he was Chinese in heritage, Jamaican by birth and Canadian by choice,” said Tennys Hanson, CEO of the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation.
Recently, Chang was in the spotlight after getting into a bidding war with Michael Lee-Chin, his good friend and another Jamaican-born Chinese-Canadian businessman. In the end the two men donated $40,000 to persuade Jamaica’s Tessanne Chin, last year’s winner of the U.S. TV singing contest The Voice, to sing at a fundraising event for the University of the West Indies.
Both men have donated millions to a number of causes, including the Royal Ontario Museum and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. They were also both named outstanding philanthropist of the year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals at different times.

Africa’s Kingdoms Find Place On A-Level Course

STOLEN TREASURE: Mask from Benin
PLANS TO include lessons on ancient African kingdoms on the A-level history curriculum have been hailed as ‘long overdue’ and ‘a step in the right direction’ but educators say schools are in need of support to implement them.
The Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) exam board has proposed a new range of topics, including the option to focus on African kingdoms between 1400 and 1800.
Mike Goddard, OCR’s head of history, said: “Universities tell us that it is particularly important not to tell the story of the non-Western world solely through its contact with the West and so we have tried to address this.
“The African Kingdoms and Empires – Songhay, Kongo, Benin, Oyo and Dahomey topic is just one of a number of new optional courses we’ve introduced.”
It is also hoped that the courses will encourage cultural integration as students study the political, military, religious and economic nature and development of the five Kingdoms.

POWER STRUGGLE: The Benin Bronzes (pictured), are the subject of a dispute between Nigeria and countries like Britain who have them in their possession
The Kingdom of Benin, located in what is now southwest Nigeria, for example, was one of West Africa’s major power players before the 19th Century. Benin controlled trade on the coast and long before the arrival of Europeans, goods were being carried from the shores of the Mediterranean across the Sahara to the major trading centres in places like Timbuktu.
In 1897, they clashed with the British who captured the king of Benin, as well as looted prized brass sculptures.
Dr Toby Green, from Kings College London, said: “It will give students from all backgrounds an important basis of understanding of African histories, and the ways they have interacted with other histories for a long period of time.
“This will deepen our understanding of both Africans and people of African descent among all communities.”
Secondary school history teacher Sharon Yemoh agreed that it is “a really positive development” and one that is long overdue.
She told The Voice: “A recent study shows that history is one of the least popular subjects among black students. Maybe if the content was more related to them they will be more interested in the subject.
“Ultimately, I think black history studies will have a massive impact on what they go on to do in university and creating more academics who are focused on black studies.”
But she is concerned about the lack of support for teachers and schools.
She said: “Having it available is one thing, but putting the supporting structures to enable teachers to effectively deliver it is another. It takes a lot for a new topic to be built into the curriculum and this subject is not a topic that many teachers have the expertise to teach.

FAMILY AFFAIR: Mark and Charmaine Simpson set up Black History Studies to encourage people to learn about African history
“Teachers and schools will need professional development and the aids required to teach the subject effectively.”
Charmaine Simpson, founder of Black History Studies, has welcomed the proposal, describing it as a ‘brilliant idea’. She is, however, disappointed that it is only going to be introduced at A-level.
Simpson said: “It is important that black history is not viewed as an alternative or reserved for one month in October.
“It is crucially important to be aware of black people’s contribution to science and technology. We must study the valuable information in manuscripts like those in Timbuktu, which show our advancement in astronomy and even things like making toothpaste, long before it entered the minds of Europeans.” 
 She added: “These are things that should be taught in secondary, primary, nursery, in homes before children start school. Without this context it is difficult for black children to develop cultural pride and esteem.”

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