He has honorary degrees from the University of the West Indies and Ryerson where he’s the first Caribbean-born chancellor. Ray Chang considers all these accolades special as he does his recent appointment to the Order of Jamaica, the country’s fourth highest honour behind the Order of National Hero, the Order of the Nation and the Order of Merit.
Chang is among 98 Jamaicans who will be conferred with national awards on National Heroes Day on October 17.
Chang, who came to Canada in 1967 to pursue Engineering at the University of Toronto, is being recognized for his outstanding contribution as a business leader and philanthropist in the financial, health, education and cultural sectors.
“Growing up in Jamaica has in part made me who I am and for that I will always be grateful,” said Chang who helped his mother Maisie manage a sales staff of 60 at the family-owned Consolidated Bakeries before coming to Canada. “A piece of my heart still lies in Jamaica.
“I am therefore humbled by the honour and look forward to keep working for the betterment of the land of my birth.”
Last December, the Association of Fundraising Professionals Toronto chapter named Chang the 2010 Outstanding Philanthropist for good reason. He has donated more than $20 million in the last few years, including $7 million to fund research at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
His generosity has extended to the Caribbean in general and Jamaica in particular.
Four years ago, Chang donated close to $750,000 to cover the first three years of a program with Ryerson that enables Caribbean nursing students to pursue higher education through distance learning. He also provided close to J$1.7 million in 2005 to the Jamaica Bauxite Institute to start a seeding nursery used to produce seedlings for distribution to farmers planting on reclaimed bauxite lands and he set up a chair at the U of T in internal medicine and a fellowship for Caribbean doctors at the University Health Network.
In addition, Chang has made numerous donations to his alma mater, St. George’s College, and provided jobs for a number of immigrants, many of them Jamaicans, at CI Financial which he joined in 1984 as vice-president and chief operating officer. At the time, the company had just $5 million in assets under management.
He was promoted to president and chief operating officer in 1994, chief executive officer two years later and chairman in 1999.
Last year, Chang, who is a director of the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, stepped down from an active role in CI Financial where he remains a director.
Chang graduated with degrees in Engineering and Accounting and ran a furniture store in the Jane & Finch neighbourhood before joining CI where he oversaw the company’s growth from being a small money manager to Canada’s second largest publicly traded fund company which now manages almost $80 billion in assets.
Through his privately owned company G. Raymond Chang Ltd., Chang is active in the development of hydrogen fuel cells, medical diagnostic devices and equipment and private wireless networks.
In 2008, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding appointed Chang a special consultant to the government.
Previous Order of Jamaica recipients include businessman Michael Lee-Chin, Father Richard Ho Lung who started The Missionaries of the Poor in 1981, musician and entrepreneur Byron Lee who died in November 2008, retired International Cricket Council (ICC) elite panel umpire Steve Bucknor and Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man.