There are some who might argue Jack Gin is not an “ordinary” Canadian. The truth is very few ordinary folks, anywhere, will ever achieve the level of success enjoyed by the engineer turned business executive, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. In that sense, Gin is quite extra-ordinary.
But on Tuesday, June 2, in presenting Burnaby Hospital Foundation with a donation of $10,000 and 500 N95 masks, Gin’s message wasn’t about what separates us; it was about what brings us together. It was a message delivered not from a wealthy man, but from a citizen like any other.
“Today, I am here to give a donation to help this hospital … but I wish this could be a simple and happy moment. My heart hurts. There is anguish and anger,” said Gin.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a notable rise in acts of racism and anti-Asian sentiment. There have been violent attacks, verbal and physical, on people of apparent Asian-ethnicity – including students, health care workers, and the elderly. Through his donation, Mr. Gin is calling for British Columbians and Canadians to stand united against the hatred.
Gathered together with a small group of socially-distanced community representatives, Gin spoke passionately about his forebearers who came to Canada (before it was even Canada) to build railways and work steamship lines. To toil in low-paying jobs so that their children could go to school to become nurses and doctors and technicians and drivers and chefs and MLAs. To give their blood, their sweat, and their lives so that those who came after, including Gin himself, could be called Canadian. Their birthright.
“We all must not tolerate racism and violence,” stated Gin. “All Canadians are expected to contribute in Canadian society and do their part during the pandemic crisis. I’m here to do my part and I know [most] Canadians are doing the same. To the 1% who are racist, intimidating and violent, your behaviour is frankly repulsive and un-Canadian. There is no place for such behaviour in our Canada. To the other 99% of us Canadians … thank you for not being silent when you witness bullying, racism and verbal assault and physical assault.”
Among the representatives in attendance for Gin’s donation was Coquitlam City Councillor, Steve Kim.
“Over the past few years, I have worked with Jack on numerous charitable campaigns, but this one is of great importance,” said Kim. “We must condemn hate, in all forms, and denounce any and all anti-Asian racism in our community and beyond. I’m here to show we can work together and support one another to reinforce that diversity is a strength during this pandemic and beyond.”
The sentiment was echoed by others in attendance as well, including MLA for Burnaby-Lougheed, Katrina Chen, MLA for Burnaby-North, Janet Routledge, MLA for Burnaby-Deer Lake, Anne Kang and Burnaby City Councillor, James Wang.
“In the past few months, we have seen numerous heartbreaking events, during our fight against COVID-19. Again and again, we have called for unity,” said Kang. “With kindness and generosity, Jack, a local Burnaby resident, answered the call. As the MLA for Burnaby – Deer Lake, I am pleased to highlight this positive story during this challenging time.”
Burnaby Hospital Foundation, for its part, recently published its own note condemning rising racism. The statement, from May 21, cites the tremendous support it has received from donors of all different backgrounds during the pandemic and before. It notes that Burnaby Hospital Foundation, including its staff, Board of Trustees, committees, volunteers, and partners, will not stand by and accept racism in any form.
“To all of us at Burnaby Hospital Foundation, Mr. Gin’s act of kindness is deeply meaningful,” said foundation CEO, Kristy James. “The donation of $10,000 and the N95 masks are vitally important for keeping our frontline heroes and community safe. But even more than that, Mr. Gin’s message of unity and civility is a welcomed reminder to us all that we can’t allow hatred and division to diminish what has been for the vast majority of us a time of overwhelming generosity and cooperation for the greater good of our shared society.”