Celebrating Lunar New Year

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair

Writer/Photographer

The Lunar New Year has a special significance to East Asians throughout the Toronto Police Service and its communities, Chief Myron Demkiw said at a celebratory event at police headquarters on February 7.

“Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, holds cultural and traditional significance for many Asian communities,” he pointed out. “It marks the beginning of the Lunar Year and it is a time for family, feasting, honouring ancestors and celebrating culture and heritage.”

Marking the first new moon of the lunar calendar, this brings the Year of the Dragon, which is the fifth in the 12-animal Chinese zodiac cycle and the only animal that is a mythical creature.

“This is indeed an auspicious and special year,” said Toronto Police Services Board Chair Lisa Kostakis. “And to celebrate it alongside members of our City’s Asian communities makes it even more special. Our focus on building strong and trusting partnerships very much includes Toronto’s Asian communities. I am proud of the relationships that have been built and continue to grow between the police and the public through various Asian Consultative Committees.”

Nine performers dressed in red control a traditional Lunar New Year dragon for a crowd on the right
A dragon dance took place during the festivities Photo: Kevin Masterman

Sergeant Stephen Yung, the East Asian Internal Support Network (EAISN) Chair, said the Lunar New Year is a ritual that strengthens the Chinese community ties and deepen the connections to its Canadian and Asian communities.

“To me, Lunar New Year is a tradition that tells us to leave behind the woes of the past as we forge and look forward to a new year,” he said. “We share food, we are generous, we give thanks, we dance with lions and we gaze in the awe and wonder of dragons.

“All this is done with one underlying spirit – we start anew to usher in the good and we welcome good fortune and prosperity. But most importantly, we leave behind or ward off the bad and evil spirits. This is a time to reflect, a time to correct the mistakes of our past and to build and create new opportunities for the future.”

Established in 2008, the EAISN comprises over 200 police officers and civilian professionals.

Members with similar backgrounds provide mentoring, guidance and support to each other and create networking, knowledge-sharing and skills development opportunities to help members develop personally and professionally.

“Organizing this Lunar New Year celebration is one way the East Asian Internal Support Network engages and supports the community,” Chief Demkiw said.

For the last eight years, the EAISN has held a golf tournament.

In 2023, they donated $20,000 to the Sick Kids Foundation, $8,000 to the 31 Division Community Liaison Committee Student Scholarship and $10,000 to Support Enhance Access Service Centre from the money raised from previous year’s golf tournament.

The Sunny Tang Martial Arts Centre performed a unique dragon dance and lion dances to usher in 2024 while Constable Alex Li of 42 Division was the Master of Ceremony.

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