British Columbia

Business leader Milton Wong dies at 72

Business leader and philanthropist Milton Wong has died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 72.

Philanthropist leaves inspirational legacy

Milton Wong dies

11 years ago
Duration 2:23
Well-known business leader Milton Wong died of pancreatic cancer New Year's Eve

Business leader and philanthropist Milton Wong, who grew up among eight siblings in Vancouver's Chinatown and later helped broker British Columbia's first modern-day land claims agreement, has died at age 72.

His niece, Joanna Wong, says her uncle was surrounded by loved ones when he succumbed to pancreatic cancer on Saturday.

She says her uncle brought optimism and curiosity to improving his community and the country.

"Uncle Milton grew up in Chinatown and it was really such a close-knit community that was so much about human relationships and finding ways to build a stronger community, get more sustainable, make people's lives better," she said.

"[That] was such a part of the values of his family growing up and he brought that into our generation."

'Dedication to cultural harmony'

Wong was instrumental in helping to structure land claim and business partnerships for First Nations and also played a role in the Nisga'a Treaty in 1998.

He served as chancellor of Simon Fraser University from 1999 to 2005 and raised money for organizations such as the BC Cancer Foundation, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

Wong was named to the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia for his contributions to education and public service.

"British Columbia has lost a great community and business leader with the passing of Milton Wong," said Premier Christy Clark. "His dedication to cultural harmony and education was inspiring, and his guidance and philanthropy will be sorely missed.

Compassion, leadership, humanity

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson called Wong "an outstanding Canadian and proud son of Vancouver who leaves behind a tremendous legacy of public service and social responsibility."

"Milton touched the lives of countless Vancouver residents and he will be remembered for his compassion, leadership and deep sense of humanity," Robertson said.

B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix said Wong enriched the province with his entrepreneurism and philanthropy.

"His contributions to B.C. and Canada are extraordinary," Dix said. "We have lost a great civic leader, a role model that exemplified the best of our city and province."

A memorial service will be held later this month for Wong, who is survived by his wife, three daughters and three grandchildren.

With files from The Canadian Press