Every four years, the Toronto Hakka Conference meets to highlight the Hakka language and culture, and to recognize the outstanding achievements of Chinese Hakka who have settled in the Toronto area of Canada.
For the first time since the Conference was founded 12 years ago, Hakka who immigrated to Toronto from Mauritius won awards in all three categories given: Science, Business and Community Service.
Awards were presented to Dr. Henri Wong Ng (Science), Madeleine (Ah Chuen) Lee (Business), and Jocelyn Lee Nam Kwong (Community Service). The conference was held from June 30-July 1, with more than 300 people attending.
As part of the agenda, Madeleine Lee spoke about her life growing up Hakka in Mauritius. She joined a panel discussion in which the older generation of Hakka in Mauritius compared their upbringing to that of today’s Canadian-Hakka youth whose parents were from Mauritius.
The majority of Chinese Mauritians are related to Hakka traders from the Guangzhou area of China. They arrived in the 1940s, settled mostly in Port Louis, and today number about 35,000 people, or about three percent of the island’s 1.3 million population.
Madeleine Lee received the award for outstanding achievement in business. Born into a large, traditional family in Mauritius, she is the daughter of Sir Jean Ah-Chuen, who started the ABC Group in 1931. She attended the Chinese Middle School and later studied English and French at Loreto Convent. At Taiwan University, she majored in Chinese literature. Lee speaks four languages and four Chinese dialects.
In 2000, she served as Mauritius ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. During that time, she expanded ties between Mauritius and Asia,  and brought the Nam Wah soccer team to an Indian Ocean Tournament involving Mauritius, Reunion and Madagascar. Her network of contacts attracted Chinese investment to the early phase of the Mauritian textile industry. She and her husband were also involved in development of the Export Processing Zone.
Henri Wong Ng, awarded for excellence in Science, was born in Mauritius and came to Canada on scholarship in 1962 to study mathematics at the University of Montreal.
He went on to a distinguished career in academia, teaching at the University of Ottawa for more than 30 years. His specialty was Analysis and Probability and Statistics, which he taught in French and English. He went on to hold many other posts at the university and is currently retired.
Jocelyn Lee Nam Kwong was recognized for his community service in the Toronto area. For 24 years, he has volunteered as sports officer, public relations officer and president of organizations focused on helping others. He has participated in many events organized by Mauritian associations of all ethnic backgrounds.