FORWARD

Some time ago I promised myself to try and write the CDNIS story. Now I have done it. And I offer it for you to read.

What I have written will, I hope, make CDNIS’ past more understandable to all those who want to learn and understand a little more about CDNIS and the people who involved in its first decade – in case they should wish to know how we carried on – in our time.

In weaving the tapestry, I have told the story, some of which I knew and experienced; others I have relied on the materials supplied to me by those who actually participated in the events or uncovered by me in the belief that these give a true picture of what happened at the time, and, above all, some of the incredible accomplishments which CDNIS has achieved within a span of twelve years.

I have paraphrased some of the materials provided to me. Hopefully, those changes have not altered in any way the sense or substance of those materials.

The story of CDNIS is about courage and the “can-do” spirit of the Hong Kong people and the strength that can be generated when East meets West and works together.

Throughout the life of CDNIS, senior officials from Hong Kong government and the Canadian diplomats stationed in Hong Kong have demonstrated their keen support to CDNIS and played a key role– many obstacles would never have been overcome by, and doors opened to, CDNIS, without all the “behind-the-scene” assistance from these individuals and we are very thankful to them.

In its preparation, I have benefited from much assistance. I am particularly grateful to Maria Mui, John Crawford, Li Ho-Kin, Chisolm Lyons, Eric Kong, Neil Johnston, Allan and Mary McLeod, Casandra Ip, Caroline Lai and many others who provided me important materials to work on.

Spencer Lee
Founding Member and Governor
2002

1.1 Background

The story of CDNIS did not start in September 1991, the month it first opened its doors to its students. It tied in intimately with important events of the past that affected Hong Kong.

It had its root in 1989. That year started out as a boom year for Hong Kong but the incident in June 1989 in China had shattered the economic upturn and the people of Hong Kong lost confidence and directions as to their future. 

For those who could afford it, they discussed and found ways of migrating overseas to seek an asylum for their fortunes and family or ways or means to obtain a passport and with it, the flexibility of going overseas in times of necessity in the future. 

It started “the brain drain” and fortunes were moved from Hong Kong to overseas; people started to leave and migrate overseas with their families. Canada was one of the most favourite destinations. 

In 1989, an International Business Committee (“IBC”) was formed by the Hong Kong government and chaired by Sir David Ford, then Chief Secretary, to deal with various issues facing Hong Kong and the international communities in Hong Kong. 

One of the issues discussed and identified at the IBC meetings was the shortage of international schools with North American curricula in Hong Kong. A sub-committee chaired by Mr. K.Y. Yeung, then Secretary for Education and Manpower, was set up to deal with the issue. 

One of the participants of the IBC meetings was the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong (“the Chamber”). At the time, the Chamber proposed to work towards the establishment of a Canadian International Schools Foundation which would then consider detailed proposals for the setting up of a primary Canadian International School by the mid-nineties. 

The Chamber recognized, and was of the opinion, that the task of forming a Canadian International School was a very complex one and considered that it was beyond its scope on its own to take up the task. 

Many of the international schools in Hong Kong are funded by their national governments in various forms. 

The Canadian government, however, has no constitutional jurisdiction over education here in Hong Kong and it was expressly stated at one of the IBC meetings that no financial support would be available. 

1.2 Formation of CDNIS

Chinese Canadian Association (“CCA”) was a young association established in 1987 by a group of returnees from Canada. Their active members shared the concern of the government and the plight of the middle to lower class returnees from Canada.

At the end of 1990, Art McInnis, one of the attendants of the IBC meetings, attended a special executive committee meeting of CCA to explain the intended project. CCA immediately responded and formed a sub-committee to found a non-profit-making organization in the name of Canadian International School Foundation Limited (“the Foundation”) for the project.

The decision to establish CDNIS was made in or about December 1990 and the target date was to open the school in September 1991. Richard Wong was elected to chair the group.

During Richard’s chairmanship, it was a hectic year of building CDNIS from scratch. It included the search and appointment of Ian Robertson as the first Principal of CDNIS, recruitment of staff, the establishment of the school logo and uniform, the curriculum, the Nomination Rights and capital levy, promotion of the school, and the entering into the tenancy at 7 Eastern Hospital Road, the renovation of the school premises with limited budget, etc.

1.3 The seed money

Fund-raising was a problem and the skepticism of the community was understandable. Initially, each founder provided HKD10,000.00 as a personal loan to start CDNIS.

Albert Wang was responsible for fund-raising and had to scratch his head many times to find the ways and means to accomplish his task. He was finally able to secure the donation by Mr. Raymond Chan, a personal friend, a sum of HKD500,000.00. 

Roger Chow used his connection and was able to secure HKD250,000.00 from Standard Chartered Bank (H.K.) Trustees Limited. 

On June 26, 1991, Albert Wang, under the auspices of CCA, organized the first fund-raising event for CDNIS. A Gala Premiere was hosted at the Hong Kong Convention Centre – Theatre 1. The film “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Ooze” sponsored by Golden Harvest Group, was shown for the occasion at HKD1,000 per ticket. The proceeds in the sum of around HKD400,000 were donated to CDNIS. 

These three major contributions provided the seed money to start the School. At the time, efforts to secure donations from Canadian organizations had turned out to be fruitless. 

The sub-committee worked extremely hard in those nine months including regular breakfast meetings on every Monday, on top of the other meetings of the sub-sub-committees. CDNIS, operating under the auspices of the Foundation, formally opened its door to students of all nationalities in September 1991 at 7 Eastern Hospital Road, as a primary school with classes ranging from Preparatory to Grade 5. 

The Founding Members made a major decision in that education had to be offered with quality at an affordable price. It was decided not to sacrifice standard for the sake of admitting more students. As a result, the intake was only around 80 in September 1991.

2.1 Introduction

The Foundation was incorporated on March 14, 1991 in Hong Kong as a company limited by guarantee. It is a non-profit-making organization enjoying tax-exemption status under the Inland Revenue Ordinance of Hong Kong.

This means that the profits from the trade or business of CDNIS are exempt from Profits Tax. Further, for the purposes of Personal Assessment, Salaries Tax and Profits Tax and subject to certain limitations, an allowance is given for tax purposes in respect of donations of money to CDNIS. 

Under the constitution of CDNIS, management of the day-to-day operations of CDNIS is delegated to a Board of Governors and its school administrators and the Foundation is “to act as trustee for the Members of the Foundation”. 

As the project was initiated by the Hong Kong government and supported by the Commission for Canada in Hong Kong (as it then was), the Chief Secretary for Administration of the HKSAR traditionally becomes the Honorary Patron and the Consul-General of Canada in Hong Kong, the Honorary President, of CDNIS.

2.2 Members of the Foundation

Under the constitution of CDNIS, Members of the Foundation have the power to amend the Memorandum and Articles of Association of CDNIS (“the M/A”) and the appointment and removal of members of the Board of Governors.

. For individuals to be qualified for admission as a Member of the Foundation, he or she must have made significant and long term contribution to the Foundation and is a Canadian citizen who is ordinarily a resident of Hong Kong. 

The Founding Members were the subscribers of the M/A of the Foundation and also the first governors of the Foundation. 

This group consisted of Roger Chow, Robert Desjardins; Art McInnis; Ching-Wo Ng, Francis Lee, Spencer Lee, Vincent Lee, Albert Wang, Mary-Jean Wong, Felix Fong, Kwan Li and Richard Wong. Robert was a member of the Commission for Canada in Hong Kong. Vincent, at the time, was the Chairman of Canadian Club and a member of CCA and Francis Lee was invited to endorse as a subscriber in his capacity as the President of the Chamber, although no active role was played by him. He subsequently tendered his resignation on November 22, 1991. 

Individual Members of the Foundation in 2002 are Roger Chow, Felix Fong, Art McInnis, Ching-Wo Ng, Spencer Lee, Vincent Lee, Kwan Li, Albert Wang, Mary-Jean Wong, Richard Wong (the Founding Members) and John Crawford, Maria Mui, Li Ho-Kin and Kenny Tam. The latter four became Members in recognition of their significant contributions, as revealed in the subsequent pages, to CDNIS. 

CCA, the Chamber and Canadian Club were made ex-officio Members of the Foundation by an amendment to the M/A in 1994. 

2.3 The Board of Governors

The Board of Governors and the school administrators are responsible for the daily operations of CDNIS. It has a Chairman and can elect up to 3 Deputy Chairmen. The Board can consist of no more than twenty Elected Governors.

The Board has 6 Ex-Officio Governors. They are: 

(1) The most senior ranking Canadian diplomat stationed in Hong Kong or his designate; 

(2) The Chairman of CCA or his designate; 

(3) The President of the Chamber or his designate; 

(4) The President of Canadian Club or his designate; 

(5) A Member of the Foundation or his alternate elected by Members at the Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) of the Foundation; and 

(6) The immediate Past Chairman of the Board. 

The first Chairman (1991 to 1992) was Richard Wong who was involved intimately with the establishment of CDNIS. 

Ching-Wo Ng was the second Chairman (1992 to 1993). During the tenure of Ching-Wo, he steered CDNIS through troubled waters: the teachers’ insurrection, the replacement of the first Principal, the discontents of the parents, the agony of the curricula formation and the fights about testing. 

Ching was succeeded by Chisholm Lyons (1993 to 1995), Eric Kong (1995 to 1997), John Crawford and John Henderson (as co-Chairmen) (1997 to 1998), Olivia Lee and Li Ho-Kin (as co-Chairmen) (1998 to 1999), John Crawford and Olivia Lee (as co-Chairmen) (1999 to 2000),Alex Ing (2000 to 2002) and David Kong (2002-). 

2.4 Major Amendments to the Constitution

(1) Under the leadership of Chisholm Lyons, there was one major amendment to the M/A. The concept of ex-officio membership to the Foundation and the Board was introduced. CCA, the Chamber and the Canadian Club have since become Ex-Officio Members and Governors of the Foundation.

The idea was to involve the Canadian community in Hong Kong to participate in the affairs and management CDNIS. 

The Committee responsible for this first major amendment to the M/A consisted mainly of Ching-Wo Ng, Richard Walker and Spencer Lee. Thhe related amendments were passed by Special Resolution on December 14, 1994. 

(2) Another amendment of significance to the M/A was conducted in 2001. The Committee consisted of Spencer Lee, Vincent Lee, Art McInnis and Ching-Wo Ng. 

At the time, the Members considered the need to ensure better communication between the Members and the Board. As a result, a new category of Ex-Officio Governor was added so that the Members elect two representatives each year as Ex-Officio Governor and his alternate to sit on the Board. 

2.5 Nomination Committee

Each year, the Nomination Committee will prepare a list of candidates for appointment to the Board and/or admission as new Members by the Members at the AGM of the Foundation.

This concept was introduced in the 1994 amendment to the M/A and the Committee comprises of the Chairman of the Board, a Governor designated by the Board, an Ex-Officio Governor designated by the Ex-Officio Governors and the Ex-Officio Governor representing CCA. The appointment of CCA as a regular member of the Committee was made in recognition of its efforts in the founding and active participation in the affairs of CDNIS since 1991.

2.6 Committees

Each committee has its own spheres of interest and undertakes the ground works for the Board to make the final decision. These are important cradles for preparing suitable candidates for later appointment to the Board. They are:

(1) Fund-raising & Public Relation 

This committee deals with all fund-raising and public relation matters, including but not limited to, matters relating to the sale and transfer of the Debentures. It has a sub-committee responsible for scholarship. 

(2) Finance & Administration 

This committee is responsible for all matters relating to finance and administration and also oversees its Human Resources Subcommittee. 

(3) Curriculum 

This committee overseas the improvement of the curricula of CDNIS and has 2 subcommittees responsible for the Chinese Studies and IT. 

(4) Parent/Staff Liaison 

This is another important committee to ensure better communications with parents and staff.