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Philanthropist Raymond Chang dies in Canada

Monday, July 28, 2014    

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JAMAICAN businessman and philanthropist G Raymond Chang died in Canada yesterday morning.

Chang, who was conferred with the Order of Jamaica in 2011 and the Order of Canada in 2014, was ailing for some time.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, to Chinese parents, Chang was one of the original founders of CI Financial, one of Canada's largest publicly traded fund companies.

Regarded as one of Jamaica's most generous philanthropists, Chang never missed an opportunity to encourage other Jamaicans living overseas to give back to the country.

In fact, after he was conferred with the OJ, he urged Jamaicans in the diaspora to continue contributing to the well-being of their homeland.

"We have been lucky as many of us in the diaspora live very comfortably and Jamaica needs help. The fact is, you are your past and Jamaica has definitely molded me into what I am today. I can never forget that," he said.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Chang confessed that he didn't go to business school but nevertheless he knew what he wanted in this life and that the last official degree he got taught him that he could teach himself.

He said that finding better ways to get where he wanted to go pushed him into business.

In 1967, Chang left Jamaica and went to study engineering at the University of Toronto in Canada. From there he became a chartered financial analyst where he worked at various firms and did consultation work.

It was while doing consulting work for the Universal Group in the 1980s that Chang said he recognised the potential in the industry and joined the company in 1984 as its vice-president and chief executive officer.

In 1996 he became president of the company, which had been renamed CI Financial, while still holding the position of CEO, and only stepped down from his post as chairman in 2010.

When asked about his generosity and why it was so important for him to give back, Chang recounted memories where a helping hand from priests as well as his own alma mater, St George's College, gave his father the opportunity to continue his schooling despite his grandfather's inability to pay for school fees.

Chang said that everybody needs help along the way, whether money or otherwise. People, he said, have to help and should not leave everything up to the Government.

Chang, who was one of the leading investors of Walkerswood Caribbean Foods, founded the G Raymond Chang Foundation in 2002.

Through the foundation he donated to a number of Jamaican initiatives and projects, which included funding the building of the Accompong Basic School in 2013 as well as donating close to $2 million to a nursery for the Jamaica Bauxite Institute in 2005. Since 2014, the foundation has signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus to facilitate research efforts in the field of agriculture.

In 2010, Chang donated CAN$100,000 towards the construction of a new building at St George's College. He also gave donations to a number of organisations such as Missionaries of the Poor Jamaica, Friends of the Poor Canada as well as Mustard Seed communities.

Chang was a supporter of the Universal Health Network, where he enabled the establishment of a fellowship to train doctors from abroad who return to the Caribbean to share Canadian education and provide health care services.

The late philanthropist was also the first Caribbean-born national to serve as chancellor at the Ryerson University in Canada where a school of continuing education is named after him.

In 2007, he gave close to CAN$750,000 to cover the first three years of a programme at Ryerson that enabled Caribbean nursing students to pursue higher education, through distance learning.

In December 2010, Chang was named Outstanding Philanthropist of 2010 by the Toronto chapter of the Association of Fund-raising Professionals.

Chang donated his time and money to several educational and mental institutions and research centres in Canada and was the recipient of the Association of Chinese Canadian Entrepreneur's Lifetime Achievement Award for providing money, time and knowledge to philanthropic pursuits.

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