By Neil Armstrong
Michael Lee Chin has been named the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Chinese Canadian Entrepreneurs (ACCE).
Lee-Chin is the eighth person to receive the award which will be presented to him at the ACCE’s annual awards gala dinner on March 23, at Hilton Suites Hotel in Markham, Ontario.
Dr. G. Raymond Chang was the recipient of the award in 2012 and Adrienne Clarkson, a former governor general of Canada in 2011.
“Being an entrepreneur is not easy but it is absolutely fulfilling. An entrepreneur’s life is totally unpredictable, stressful not knowing what is around the corner. Life is not linear,” Lee Chin said at a media conference in Toronto on February 13, 2013 where the ACCE announced the award.
He said his forebears are his inspiration and cited the fact that they came from China to Jamaica, a land that was new to them and set up shops, becoming involved in commerce.
“As an entrepreneur one has control over one’s life,” he said noting that recognition came from doing what he is passionate about and he has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.
Lee Chin is the founder of Portland Holdings Inc., the current
chairman of AIC Financial Group Limited and the National Commercial Bank of
Jamaica. In 2011, he was appointed the chancellor at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.
Born in Port Antonio in 1951, Lee-Chin came to Canada in 1970 and enrolled at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario to study engineering. After beginning post-graduate studies, he decided to explore opportunities within the field of mutual funds.
In 1983, Lee Chin borrowed money to purchase $500,000 of Mackenzie Financial stock and after four years, the stock appreciated seven-fold. He used the profits to acquire AIC Limited, a small Ontario-based investment firm. Within 20 years, AIC grew from less than $1 million and, at its business peak, posted more than $15 billion in assets under management.
Lee-Chin’s philanthropy includes a donation of $5 million to McMaster University to establish the AIC Institute of Strategic Business at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Business.
A $30 million contribution he made to the Royal Ontario Museum’s Renaissance ROM Campaign resulted in an avant-garde Michael Lee Chin Crystal gallery.
Among his accolades are: honorary doctorates from McMaster, Northern Caribbean University, the University of Toronto, SirWilfrid Laurier University, York University and the University of the West Indies.
In 2005, he was named Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (Toronto Chapter). He is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation for his outstanding contributions to Canada’s entrepreneurial spirit.
The ACCE Lifetime Achievement Award, which has been sponsored by RBC since
its inception in 2006, recognizes outstanding citizens whose business,
humanitarian, and/or philanthropic activities have made significant
contributions to the Chinese-Canadian business community as well as the
community at large.