Western Canada’s only Taoist temple is easy to miss on a walk through Vancouver’s Chinatown. Perched on the third-floor above a gift shop, the shrine, painted in vibrant gold and green, provides a quiet place for the temple’s followers to light incense, say prayers and shake cups of wooden sticks to find their fortunes.
Followers of the ancient Chinese religion and philosophy describe it as a path guided by a clear set of values – compassion, moderation and humility, among others – leading toward a positive impact on nature and society.
“Along the path, we do good deeds,” says Stephen Kwong, Director and Secretary of the Evergreen Taoist Church of Canada and the International Taoist Church of Canada, a registered charity.
Each year, the Vancouver followers of Taoism meet to consider how to use their philanthropic funds, which come from church members or from performing ceremonies at events such as dragon boat festivals.
This past year, the members wanted to make a positive impact on people’s health today and in the future. Church advisor Lawrence Wong, a cardiologist, led them to UBC.
Dr. Wong contacted his mentor, Clinical Professor Victor Huckell, who, after reflecting on Taoism, suggested creating an endowment to support three awards for residents and clinical fellows in three areas: adult cardiology, pediatric cardiology and humanitarianism. Church leaders readily agreed, donating $95,000 to endow those awards.
“Our training programs focus not only on technical skills but also promote an ethic of kindness and sympathy without any form of prejudice,” Dr. Huckell says. “This belief dovetails beautifully with the philosophy of Taoism.”