Guinness World Record broken by Montrealer
A Montreal man is far from familiar with carrying dust on his feathers. Motivated by connection to his community and fuelled by his passion for humanity and social change, Jimmy Chan has dedicated his life to spreading kindness, courage, and compassion through food, art, and activism.
Adding to his impressive and extensive list of accomplishments, this past Canada Day, Jimmy Chan, and colleagues across the world added one more notch to their achievement belt. Over 1000 people joined forces to become the largest group of drummers drumming simultaneously across the globe.
For 3 minutes, on Zoom, the drummers drummed. Each in different time zones and requiring Guinness World Record officials to monitor the undertaking, the event required the collaboration of thousands of people.
Chan’s career in community change began over 30 years ago when he noticed the rich history in Montreal’s Chinatown that he had known his whole life begin to change.
Suddenly, a part of Montreal that was once bustling with bold color, rich cuisine, and joyful people was being muted by commercial and residential construction projects.
Fuelled by his ancestors as well as his father and grandfather, Chan founded the Saving Chinatown Project, which aims to emphasize the importance of Chinese culture in the Montreal community.
"We tend to forget the role that the Chinese have played across Canada's history. Our ancestors came to Canada seeking a better life. We chose Canada as our home. But we do not want to forget about our Chinese culture and history."
- Jimmy Chan
Influenced by role models in his life, Jimmy has always sought new and creative ways to give back to his community. His grandfather, who was a well-known herbal medicine doctor dedicated his career to treating those who could not afford medical care. He went on to found his project "One World, One Humanity" which seeks to serve the community and help those in need.
When he’s not advocating on behalf of Chinatown and its deep history, he is raising funds for those in need. Driven by his passions for martial arts, music, and food, Jimmy has found unique and exciting ways to fuse his interests together all the while raising money and making people smile.
In 2008, Chan alongside people all over Montreal raised over 10,000$ for the Red Cross and victims of the Sichuan earthquake in China.
In 2010, he organized an event that raised over 25,000$ to aid the relief efforts in response to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti.
Jimmy’s eagerness to lend a humanitarian hand was put to the truest of tests in March of 2020 when the foundations of the world were flipped on their head and the Coronavirus broke out across the globe.
Since then, Chan and his colleagues have made it their mission to speak out on the importance of our healthcare and frontline workers and express endless gratitude by delivering homemade food to Montreal hospitals. At the pandemic’s peak, Jimmy’s family restaurant was delivering more than 2600 meals weekly to hospitals across the city.
"Our frontline workers are our heroes. It touched my heart to see all the healthcare workers risking their lives to save lives. Many of them are separated from their family, they don't even have time to eat."
- Jimmy Chan
Deeply ironic is what Chan’s generosity was met with. As He and his team were delivering food to doctors and nurses and putting on street performances to senior citizens, discrimination and racism targeted at the Asian community were on the rise.
The Coronavirus, which was wrongly and insensitively dubbed the "Chinese Virus", became the catalyst for racially driven attacks against Montreal's Chinese community.
Windows of family-owned restaurants were smashed in; Chinese businesses were plastered with graffiti and derogatory slurs. It began to feel not only for Jimmy but for his fellow Chinese community as though they could not lead their lives feeling safe and secure in their homes and in their city.
In his 30 years of advocating for Chinatown’s history and heritage, Chan has also fought for better and more present policing for the Chinese community. As violent hate crimes escalated and physical attacks intensified, it became abundantly clear that Jimmy would have to take matters into his own hands.
With the help of his close friend Eddy Li who owns a private security company, Chan created the very first community-driven security patrol team to survey the streets of Chinatown and protect particularly vulnerable populations within the Chinese community.
Throughout his impressive career, Jimmy Chan has never once missed a beat. It seems only fitting then, that his latest accomplishment is of the nature that it is. Passionate about music – drumming in particular – all his life, Chan has advocated for the power of drumming and what it can do for people and the world.
"It's magic. It brings people together. You don't need to be a professional, you just need a drum."
- Jimmy Chan
And that was one of Chan's biggest challenges. Finding people eager to drum was not the issue, but finding people who had access to a drum was.
Of course, he combatted this by inviting as many people as COVID would allow into his home to make use of his personal drums. He also purchased a handful of drums for people who did not have access to them so that they could take part in the Guinness World Record feat.
On July 1st of this year, Jimmy Chan and a small group of fellow drummers gathered in his home. Across the city of Montreal and around the world, a much larger group of people of all ages, races, genders, and walks of life banded together over Zoom to become the largest group of drummers simultaneously performing a drum roll for three minutes straight.
For Jimmy, percussion is more than just a mallet on a drum. It is a heartbeat, it is life, it motivates and pushes forward. It is strength. As a founder, coach, and captain of the Montreal International Dragon Boat Race Festival since 1996, Chan has seen time and time again how the persistence and vigor of a steady drumbeat can drive people forward and propel them to new heights.
Jimmy's Dragon Boat team "Phoenix Warriors" even went on to win 1st place in the 2000 meter race in 2019 in the Montreal Challenge, as part of the Dragon Boat Festival.
It is perhaps this mindset we must carry with us as the world opens up and restrictions are lifted. Jimmy Chan is a reminder to all of us to be a little kinder, give a little more, and drum a little harder. Be motivated and excited by the rhythm of your favorite music, the heartbeats of your friends and family, and the tempo of your bustling city. Hey, you may even set a new record.