YCAR External Advisory Council (EAC)

The External Advisory Council of the York Centre for Asian Research

Sonny Sonny ChoCho is Senior Fellow at Global Public Affairs and President and CEO of the Canada Korea Business Council (CKBC). At Global, he advises international clients on how to incorporate a winning public affairs strategy when expanding their business, including the important step of achieving broader engagement with community and public-sector stakeholders. At CKBC, he promotes Canada’s business, trade and investment attraction with South Korea.

Mr. Cho has been a long-time leader of the Korean-Canadian community in Toronto and has served as director and executive on numerous organizations such as Korean Canadian Cultural Association, Korean Canadian Scholarship Foundation, Korean Credit Union, Korean Canadian Symphony Orchestra, Korean Canadian Development Corporation, Global Korean Network, and Korean Nursing Home Task Force.

Mr. Cho is fluent in Korean and English and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in commerce and economics from the University of Toronto.


Samira Kanji is President & CEO of the Noor Cultural Centre in Toronto, an Islamic religious, educational and cultural institution committed to the learning about Islam and Muslims, and the application of Islamic ethical concepts to current contexts.

She was born and raised in Kenya, lived many years in England, and has been in Canada since 1988. She is the daughter of the founder of Noor, the late Dr Hassanali Lakhani.  She is a Chartered Accountant by training and the mother of three adult children.


Born in Jamaica, Dr Keith Lowe is a Hakka researcher and educator. He co-founded the quadrennial Toronto Hakka Conference at York University in 2000 and assisted in founding the biennial New York Hakka Conference in 2013 at New York University. He also established the annual forum on Chinese Immigration into the Caribbean Basin at Miami-Dade College in 2011. A graduate of Harvard, magna cum laude, he won the Ames Award for leadership and the Boylston Prize for elocution.  He earned a PhD from Stanford in modern British and American literature, and then taught at Howard University and the University of California in San Diego. He gained the Higher Diploma in Education from the University of the West Indies, and then specialized in curriculum development at the London University Institute of Education. He worked as a high school teacher for two years in Ghana, where he became interested in Pan-Africanism.

After heading the curriculum and research departments of the Ministry of Education in Jamaica, Dr. Lowe migrated to Canada, teaching English Literature at Ryerson University and multicultural education at the University of Toronto. He founded the consulting firm, Inter Cultural Associates Inc. After completing a situation report on race relations in Toronto for the federal government of Canada, he was hired as a consultant to the House of Commons Special Committee on the Participation of Visible Minorities in Canadian Society. Later, he headed a team that studied the availability of multicultural education across the country. The Toronto Board of Education hired him to review and revise the after-school Black Studies curriculum.

Employed by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, Dr. Lowe trained voluntary organizations in providing appropriate services to new immigrants. He later worked with public service managers to develop programs in employment equity. As a volunteer, he was president of the Ontario Multicultural Association, and was active in promoting interfaith programs. He was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for community service. He helped to start Asian Heritage Month in Ontario, served as an advisor to the Canadian Multicultural Council – Asians in Ontario, and served two terms on the board of the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto.

On retiring, Dr Lowe made several visits to his father’s 200-year-old village. Reputed to be the largest and most ornate Hakka walled village in China, Luo Rui He (Crane Lake Residence) is located in the Fuiyung district, north of Shenzhen city. He later visited his family’s prior village in the Meixien region, and then he toured the tulou (earthen castles) in Fujian province. He wrote a paper on Hakka architecture for a conference at Xiamen University and it was published in a journal devoted to sustainable architecture. A member of the Institute for the Study of Chinese Overseas, he now takes every opportunity to educate both himself and others on the value of Hakka culture.


Julie D. T. Nguyen has a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies and Asian Research (2004) from the University of British Columbia. She was a consultant for the United Nations in Hanoi in 1997, a research associate at the Centre for Southeast Asia Research at UBC (1996–99), conducted her SSHRC post-doctoral research at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, and taught courses in Political Science, Asia-Pacific Studies, and Women’s Studies at the University of Toronto and UTSC (2005–10). Her most recent publication is The Black Race by Ho Chi Minh and Selected Works on Systemic Racism (2021). Dr Nguyen is currently a professor of International Business at Centennial College, a co-founder and director of the Canada Vietnam Trade Council, and Chair of the Canada-ASEAN Initiatives at YCAR. She is a board member of McCormick Playground Arena and a member of the Advisory Board for the Organization of Women in International Trade – Toronto, and the Advisory Council for the Centre for Global Enterprise, Schulich School of Business.


Senator Yuen Pao Woo has over three decades of experience in strategy and policy for business, government and not-for- profit organizations. Widely recognized as a leading thinker on international economic issues and Canada-Asia relations, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada in November 2016, and sits as an independent representing British Columbia. Prior to joining the Senate, he was President of HQ Vancouver, and President and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, where he continues to serve as Distinguished East Asia Fellow.

Senator Woo is a member of the Trilateral Commission; Senior Resident Fellow at the Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University; Senior Fellow in Public Policy at the Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia; as well as co-founder and President of China Global: The Vancouver Society for Promotion of Chinese Art and Culture. He is chair of the board of the Vancouver Academy of Music, and a member of the Global Council of the Asia Society as well as on the advisory boards of the Mosaic Institute and the Canadian Ditchley Foundation. He has published widely on international economic issues and contemporary Asian affairs. In 2012, he was honoured with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award for his contributions to Canada-Asia relations. Senator Woo is currently a member of the following Senate Standing Committees: Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, Selection, and Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. In September 2017, Senator Woo was elected as the Facilitator of the Independent Senators Group.


The York Centre for Asian Research External Advisory Council (EAC) was established in 2013 to provide strategic advice and facilitate outreach to various segments of the non-academic community.

In particular, the EAC:
a) Contributes their wisdom and experience as YCAR considers new initiatives and strategic directions for its Asia and Asian Diaspora‐focused research taking place at York;
b) Advises on fundraising possibilities that will realize or further advance the new initiatives;
c) Projects YCAR activities and York‐based research into spheres in which they work to reach a wider off-campus audience.