Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 38th Parliament,
Volume 142, Issue 84

Tuesday, July 19, 2005
The Honourable Daniel Hays, Speaker

The Late Lillian To

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak of Lillian To, a Vancouverite and one of the 25 most influential Canadians in British 19Columbia, who passed away on July 2. Canada has become the great nation that it is because of the contributions of millions of immigrants who became Canadians and made Canada their home. Arriving in Vancouver in 1973, Lillian put her Christian faith into action for the next 32 years, serving others with a passion and a vision that were limitless and building a legacy of acceptance, respect and tolerance amongst all British Columbians.

Although small in stature, Lillian could only dream and work on a grand Canadian scale. Always at the forefront of emerging social issues, she would identify and respond to grassroots community challenges that often proved to be national in scope. She was persistent as a champion of others and as a developer of innovative services for those most in need. She was compassionate and understanding of everyone, giving equal consideration and care whether she was meeting with the Prime Minister or with the most recent arriving immigrant or refugee. In 1988, Lillian became the Executive Director of the United Chinese Community Enrichment Services Society, SUCCESS. It is a non-profit charitable organization mandated to assist newcomers to overcome language and cultural barriers. Lillian transformed SUCCESS from a small storefront office in Chinatown to one of the largest social services agencies in B.C. Under her leadership, SUCCESS grew to a staff of 350 with 9,000 registered volunteers who serve more than 760,000 people annually throughout its 12 offices and various outreach programs across British Columbia.

A tireless community worker and organizer, Lillian typically worked an average 14-hour day seven days per week during her 37-year career. In standard working weeks, her career would be the equivalent of 74 years of service. Like many true leaders, Lillian gave generously of herself and placed service to others first. Always humble, she would consistently credit others for her many accomplishments, setting an example of selfless service that touched and inspired hundreds of thousands of Canadians to be better citizens.

Lillian leaves behind a loving husband, two devoted sons and a daughter-in-law, as well as a community and country that have been enriched by her presence, strengthened by her achievements and indebted to her for her tireless service to others. Honourable senators, Lillian To, my friend of many years, will be missed by all communities in Vancouver and across British Columbia.