An entrepreneur, author, historian, and fashion designer, Honourable Dr. Vivienne Poy was the first Canadian of Asian descent to be appointed to the Senate of Canada. She was appointed to the Senate in 1998 and retired on Sept. 17, 2012. She served as Chacellar of the University of Toronto from 2003 unitil 2006.
Vivienne 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 M.A. 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..
Vivienne 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, Vivienne was instrumental in having May recognized as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. In December 2001, the Senate of Canada unanimously recognized May as Asian Heritage Month, following the passage of a motion introduced by Vivienne. In May, 2002, the Government of Canada declared May as Asian Heritage Month in a formal signing ceremony. When Vivienne was the Senator, she worked closely with Asian Heritage Month Societies across Canada, serving 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 was supportive of activities in Victoria, Winnipeg, Fredericton, and P.E.I.
Among her many voluntary positions, she was an Honourary Patron of the Chinese Cultural Centres of Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver, as well as the International Centre of Winnipeg. She was Honourary Advisor to the Buddhist Education Foundation for Canada, and the Japanese Canadian Legacy Project. Vivienne was the Patron of the Hong Kong Canada Business Association (Ottawa Chapter), a Member of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights National Advisory Council, Honorary Chair of ORBIS Canada’s Chinese Advisory Council, and Honourary Co-Chair, Campaign for Diversity, Canadian Centre for Diversity.
* As the Chancellor Emerita of the University of Toronto, Vivienne remained committed to inspiring young people to excel by serving as Founding Patron of Helping for a United Good (HUG), a peace and education initiative, Honourary Patron, Education Foundation of the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada (CPAC), Honourary Patron, Canadian Future Achievers Awards, and the Patron of the Era 21 Networking Breakfast for Young Canadians on Parliament Hill
Vivienne has been recognized for her contributions to intercultural understanding by many community organizations, receiving the Inaugural Golden Mountain Achievements Award for a Lifetime of Public and Community Service at the 150 Years in Golden Mountain celebration, 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 received an International Women’s Day Award, and also was 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.
Vivienne is married to Dr. Neville Poy, a retired plastic surgeon and avid photographer. They have three sons, Ashley, Justin and Carter, and three grandchildren.