‘He had the biggest smile in the room’: Celebration of Life ceremony for Toronto Councilwoman Cynthia Lai

The late Toronto City Councilor Cynthia Lai was remembered for her ambition and dedication to the city at a ceremony celebrating life in North York today.

“He had the biggest smile in the room and always shared his positivity with us,” Lai’s youngest son, Darren, said at the ceremony.

Family, friends and colleagues attended the service at York Cemetery and Funeral Center on Thursday morning.

Lai died on October 21 at the age of 68, three days before the Toronto municipal election, where she was seeking re-election as a councilor for Scarborough North District 23.

Her campaign manager, Hratch Aynedjian, said Lai died in hospital and was surrounded by family.

Lai is survived by her husband CK Fung and their two sons Derrick and Darren Fung.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford attended the ceremony, along with newly re-elected Toronto Mayor John Tory, who endorsed Lai for re-election.

Lai’s eldest son, Derrick, said his mother successfully pursued eight careers in her life: bank teller, flight attendant, tour guide, lab technician, real estate broker, Canadian Forces relocator, city ​​councilor and mother.

He said that his mother supported him and always believed in him and his brother.

“I have never met a woman who faces so many trials and tribulations and continues with a smile. I have never met a woman who always sees the good in people and always puts the thoughts and needs of others before her own every day,” Derrick said.

A photo of Cynthia Lai is seen here at her celebration of life ceremony in North York on October 28, 2022.

Her youngest son, Darren, said he learned invaluable life lessons from his mother’s actions.

“She instilled her work ethic in me, not telling me how to work but showing me. She instilled compassion in me, not by telling me how to be compassionate but by showing me. She truly taught me what it means to love someone unconditionally,” she said.

Her brother, the Rev Johann Lai, said the loss of his sister is “heartbreaking” and that they were very close to each other growing up.

He also remembered saying goodbye to his sister 50 years ago when she left Hong Kong to immigrate to Canada.

“I realized that she went to a far away country and went to a better place, Canada. I wonder if I could ever see her again… Fifty years is just the blink of an eye and here I am saying goodbye to Cynthia once again, but I really want to see her again,” she said.

Mayor Tory said he met Lai 20 years ago when she was president of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB).

He said that Lai was always a positive person and councilor and cared deeply about helping her constituents.

“No matter what was going on, no matter what debate, I never heard her say a word in city council that wasn’t a positive word about what she was for and what she wanted to do, rather than stand up to anyone else. and being critical of them,” she said.

A photo of Cynthia Lai is seen here at her celebration of life ceremony in North York on October 28, 2022.

Lai was first elected to the city council in the 2018 municipal election.

She served on the Scarborough Community Council (Vice-Chair), the Budget Committee, the Community and Economic Development Committee, the Civic Appointments Committee (Vice-Chair), as Commissioner of the Toronto Transit Commission, and on the Board of Directors of the Toronto Zoo. Toronto. . She also served on the board of directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Lai, who celebrated her birthday on Oct. 19, immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong in the 1970s. Before entering politics, she was a successful real estate broker and became the first Chinese-Canadian president of TRREB.

In honor of Lai, the City of Toronto lowered flags to half-staff at City Hall, Civic Centers and Metro Hall from October 21 to today.

Friday is the last day for members of the public to sign condolence books at both the Town Hall rotunda and the Scarborough Civic Centre.

The public can also send a message of condolences to Lai’s family online.

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