March 28, 2019

Some of our longest-standing members share their fondest memories of CEMA’s 40 year history.


Honorary Director

I lost count as to how long I have been with CEMA. Probably close to 30 years. From before Canadian Ethnic Journalists and Writers Club changed its name to Canadian Ethnic Media Association.

Institutions come and go, hospital trusteeship, college governorship, film festival boards, bank advisory panel, . . each lasting a few years. After 50 years’ involvement in communities of all sectors, the only two organizations where I am still active are: the Hong Kong University Alumni Association (Ontario) of which I was the founding president and CEMA. Why CEMA?

CEMA is an indispensable entity to instill substance into good citizenship in Canada – a nation whose social fabric holds more strands from ethnic minorities combined than from each of the people of English, French or Aboriginal backgrounds. Ethnic media, in real fact, is the voice for the largest group of Canadian populace.

CEMA represents me; CEMA speaks on my behalf; CEMA fights for my concerns.  CEMA’s success should be attributed to all its members, past and present. From our Founder Sierhey Ziniak, through our longest serving president Ben Viccari,many illustrious members such as Katie Rekai, Vera Ke, to our Chairperson Madeline Ziniak, CEMA has enjoyed outstanding leadership and has imprinted “Canadian Diversity” as the hallmark of Canada.



My involvement With the Canadian Ethnic Media Association goes back to 1996 when I launched my second television program, Pasargad. It was during this time where I met Madeline Ziniak, at what back then, was called CFMT.

The welcome I received to the station was so warm that when I was asked by Madeline to become a member at the Canadian Journalists and Writers Association, I eagerly signed up. What I did not know at the time, was that I was entering and being initiated into a second family.

My membership was my first ever involvement in a Canadian organization and, not knowing, the longest one as well. It was through this organization, I discovered the meaning of multiculturalism, cultural heritage, and the importance such organizations as CEMA has to Canadian Media.

In fact, there is no doubt in my mind that Ethnic Media forms one of the pillars of Canadian multiculturalism and for the past 40 years, CEMA has played a major role in insuring that the voice of multiculturalism is always being heard.

I’m proud and thankful to the organization for allowing me to participate and be part of such cultural movement that has helped shape the Ethnic Media Industry in Canada as it is today. I am extremely humble and privileged to be a part of an organization that has been founded by a visionary – Mr. Ziniak and to be able to take part in its 40th year anniversary.

Without any doubt, this organization will continue to be a significant part of Canadian Media and Canadian Heritage. Thank you and Happy 40th anniversary.


Immediate Past President

As the Immediate Past President of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association and Honorary Board member, I reminisce and am proud of the many accomplishments & challenges we have met and overcome in our 40 years of continued existence.

As Founder and CEO of Thoi Bao Inc., and Webnews Printing Inc., I fully appreciate the importance and value of Ethnic Media and accessible information in one’s language of comfort.

Fleeing South Viet Nam in 1975, near the end of the war, and settling in Halifax,  I appreciated through my experiences in Canada, how important it was to give back to the community.  This was one of the reasons that I founded and published Thoi Bao newspaper where I witnessed the many Vietnamese immigrants this medium helped in the settlement of their new lives in Canada. CEMA, as a non-profit organization, has for 40 years galvanized the multilingual media sector, and ethnic media membership, in order to be a reflective, diverse voice in Canada.

In the early 80’s we held our editorial board meetings and Awards of Journalistic Excellence at the Toronto Press Club on Wellesley St. The Toronto press Club is long gone but the Canadian Ethnic Media Association continues its journey of advancing ethnic media issues and recognizing and celebrating the important work of multilingual journalists, broadcasters, writers, producers and podcasters.

I also would like to pay tribute to past presidents, such as Ben Viccari, who are no longer with us but whose spirit lives on in this organization through the work that he has invested here.  We have much to celebrate, and to be proud of 40 years of continued juried CEMA Awards of Journalistic Excellence. Congratulations to all of the winners!

Past President

CEMA is a Beacon of Multiculturalism in Canada.  In its 40th this year, CEMA is a beacon of multiculturalism in Canada. I say this aware of the organization’s accomplishments during the last 39 years.

CEMA was young at the time I joined the organization given the mandates of the fundamental law that governs it. While Canada prided itself as a model of multiculturalism then and now, at the time, the very sector of media that otherwise would have proclaimed it firstly did not reflect such.  CEMA set to work for ethnocultural media outlets to be included by major sources of information. While the task had not been easy, we finally succeeded in this objective after members represented in the Federal Communicators of Ontario included us in their news dispatches. Today, we enjoy equally the benefits that otherwise only the so-called mainstream media would be exclusively enjoying had CEMA not worked on it.

Among the numerous feats of note for me was, in particular, CEMA’s work forming the basis in reversing a decision by the Ontario provincial government to slap ethnic magazines hefty GST charges, giving the legislation retroactive effect to a couple of years. Had the law not been reversed, it would certainly have caused the demise of all the ethnic print media in Ontario altogether.

The huge tasks ahead continue and only by us banding together through CEMA are we able to face all this.

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