Senator Vivienne Poy retired on September 17, 2012.
An entrepreneur, author, historian, and fashion designer, Senator Vivienne Poy is the first Canadian of Asian descent to be appointed to the Senate of Canada. She is Chancellor Emerita of the University of Toronto and a Senior Fellow at Massey College.
Ms. Poy was educated in Hong Kong, England and Canada. She has earned an Honours BA from McGill University, a Diploma in Fashion Arts from Seneca College and an MA., and Ph.D. in History from the University of Toronto.
She founded Vivienne Poy Mode in 1981 and over the following fourteen years enjoyed great success in fashion design, manufacturing and retail. She is currently Chairperson of Lee Tak Wai Holdings Ltd.
Ms. Poy is the author of four books: A River Named Lee; Building Bridges: The Life and Times of Richard Charles Lee, Hong Kong, 1905- 1983; Citizenship and Immigration: the Chinese-Canadian Experience - The Nortel Networks' Canadian Studies Address No. 1., and Profit, Victory & Sharpness - The Lees of Hong Kong.
As the first Canadian of Asian descent to be appointed to the Senate of Canada, Ms. Poy was instrumental in having May recognized as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. In December 2001, the Senate of Canada officially recognized May as Asian Heritage Month, following the passage of a motion introduced by Ms. Poy. In May, 2002, the Government of Canada declared May as Asian Heritage Month in a formal signing ceremony. Ms. Poy now works closely with Asian Heritage Month Societies across Canada, including as Honourary Patron of the Ottawa Asian Heritage Month Society, Toronto’s Asian Heritage Month - Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture Inc., and Vancouver’s Asian Heritage Month Society, as well as Honourary Advisor to Montreal’s Accés Asie Festival, and Honourary Co-Chair of the Asian Heritage Foundation [ Southern Alberta] . She also is supportive of activities in Victoria, Winnipeg, and Fredericton.
Among her many voluntary positions, she is an Honourary Patron of the Chinese Cultural Centres of Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver, as well as the International Centre of Winnipeg. She is Honourary Advisor to the Buddhist Education Foundation for Canada, and the Japanese Canadian Legacy Project. Ms. Poy is the Patron of the Hong Kong Canada Business Association (Ottawa Chapter), Founding Patron of Helping for a United Good (HUG), a peace and education initiative, a Member of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights National Advisory Council, and an Honorary Chair of ORBIS Canada’s Chinese Advisory Council.
Ms. Poy has been recognized for her contributions to intercultural understanding by many community organizations, receiving a Gold Medal Award of Excellence in Race Relations, an Outstanding Asian Canadian Award from the Canadian Multicultural Council, Asians in Ontario, and an Eid-ul-Fitr Award from the Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada . She was also named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, by the Women’s Executive Network, in the ‘Trailblazer’ category.
In recognition of her national and international contributions, she has received honourary degrees from around the world.