Yan Chen

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Yan Chen
🏡 ResidenceToronto
🏳️ NationalityCanadian
🎓 Alma materUniversity of Toronto
💼 Occupation
Community Legal Worker
📆 Years active  2013-Present
👔 EmployerChinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Organizer and Community Legal Work
TitleCommunity Legal Worker

Yan Chen is a Chinese Canadian activist and community legal worker who works with working-class families and immigrants on mental health, workers rights, race and gender discrimination issues.[1] In July 2019, Chen announced her interest to seek federal NDP nomination in Scarborough North.[2]

Activism and social work[edit]

Chen's experience began at Support Enhance Access Service (SEAS) and Polycultural Immigrant Community Services (PICS) as a settlement worker. Working at the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (CSALC), Yan conducted public legal education workshops and speaking engagements on seniors' benefits, housing, employment, and immigration laws.[3][4][5] As a summer student in 2019, Chen served as a Projects Assistant in Professional Development and Training at OCASI.[6]

Working as a community legal worker at the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (CSALC), Yan collaborated with the Nail Technicians’ Network (NTN) to empower marginalized racialized women (mostly of Chinese and Vietnamese descent) to create better working conditions and rights at nail salons.[7][8] Chen, as organizer for the initiative, informed the Star that salons evade minimum workplace standards.[9] Her work involved outreaching to nail salon workers, organizing and facilitating immigration and employment workshops for workers to share their concerns, and

Chen is also outspoken advocate for voter education of Chinese communities, and was involved in canvassing at Toronto's Chinatown during the October 2018 Provincial Elections.[10]


"Upholding and Promoting Human Rights, Justice and Access for Migrant Sex Workers" Butterfly, 2018. Funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario, Chen also co-authored a document for promoting human rights, justice and access to health and legal services for migrant sex workers as part of a four day workshop for migrant sex workers.[11] The workshop came about as a partnership between the The Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO), Butterfly (Asian Migrant Sex Workers Support Network), St. Stephen’s Community House and the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic with the Law Foundation's Connecting Communities Project.[12]

"Sweet and Sour: The Struggle for Chinese Restaurant-Workers" (2015)

During her tenure at the Metro Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, Chen co-authored a report on the challenges faced by Chinese restaurant workers in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area.[13] The report found that workers often earn less than minimum wage, don't receive overtime pay or vacation pay, and that pay stubs don't reflect their actual hours of work.[14][15]

"So the Chinese Restaurant­ Workers Report has been released. Now what?" Workers Rights Newsletter, Inter-Clinic Employment Law News, Fall 2016 Edition.

Chen penned a follow up on the media coverage and impact of the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic's report on Chinese restaurant workers.[16]

#UsToo Roundtable (2018), co-hosted by the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants – OCASI and the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic

On March 2, 2018, Chen was part of thirty leaders in anti-gender based violence advocacy and service provision from across Ontario who were gathered to identify how to better meet the needs of migrant and racialized communities when addressing gender-based violence and supporting survivors. A Call to Action was drafted as a result of the meeting.[17]


  1. "Citizenship and Employment Precarity". Collaborators. York University. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  2. "Yan Chen for NDP Scarborough North". Facebook. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  3. "Recent Changes to Housing, Employment, Immigration & Citizenship Law (Free)". Training and Events. Toronto Drop In Network. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  4. "Free Legal Training". Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  5. "A Free Workshop on Residency Requirements for Accessing Benefits". Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  6. "Staff Directory". OCASI. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  7. Mojtehedzadeh, Sara. "Nail salon network seeks to empower newcomer women on the job". Toronto Star. Toronto Star. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  8. "揭开多伦多华人美甲店员工 饱受盘剥压榨的黑幕". BC Bay. CyberMedia Network.
  9. Mojtehazadeh, Sara. "Initiative seeks to empower nail salon workers". PressReader. Toronto Star. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  10. Gupta, Rahul. "Toronto immigrant voters risk being left out of 2018 election campaign". Toronto.com. TorStar. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  11. "Migrant Sex Workers' Labour and Employment Rights". Q & A for Service Providers. Butterfly.
  12. "Recent Projects". Home. Chinese Canadian National Council.
  13. "Sweet and Sour: The Struggle for Chinese Restaurant-Workers" (PDF). Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  14. "Chinese restaurant workers underpaid and overworked, new report says". CBC. CBC/Radio-Canada. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  15. "報告:中餐館工人超低工資超長時間工作". Sing Tao News. Sing Tao Daily Limited.
  16. "Workers Rights Newsletter, Fall 2016" (PDF). CLEO Connect. Workers Rights Action Group. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  17. "#UsToo: Meeting the needs of migrant and racialized communities in anti-gender-based violence work in Ontario" (PDF). Immigrant and Refugee Communities. Retrieved 20 July 2019.

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